Kohli's decision to bowl first was baffling

Kohlis decision to bowl first was baffling
Anis Sajan with his son Sahil Sajan at the Oval on the eve of ICC Champions Trophy final.

Dubai - Credit has to go to Sarfraz Ahmed and his young team for bouncing back after being beaten easily in their opening match against India

By Anis sajan

Published: Thu 22 Jun 2017, 10:51 PM

Last updated: Fri 23 Jun 2017, 1:22 AM

Pakistan ended the jinx against team India in an ICC tournament, by thrashing them in the final of the Champions Trophy by 180 runs.
Credit has to go to Sarfraz Ahmed and his young team for bouncing back after being beaten easily in their opening match against India. And after that game, every  match for team Pakistan was a knockout and the fact that they emerged as champions showed the character of the team and their hunger.
But what about team India? They came in as one of the favourites along with England in the Champions Trophy and must have felt that they had the cup in their hands when Pakistan beat England in the first semifinal. England were the team India must have feared the most, going in to this tournament.
Past history has proved from 1992 to 2015 that Pakistan are not good while chasing and they had lost to India in six World Cup matches, with five of those defeats coming after India had batted first. The only exception was the 2003 World Cup when Sachin's brilliance with the bat saw India chase down the target with ease.
Even in this tournament's first match, India who were put in to bat by Sarfraz, Pakistan were nowhere in the hunt and never looked like chasing India's target of 324 and lost by a big margin by 120 runs.
Then the question arises that why would Indian captain Virat Kohli put Pakistan in to bat when history has proved that Pakistan struggle big time when chasing?
It was a beautiful sunny day at the Oval and the pitch was a batting beauty and with India's strength being their batting. Nasir Hussain, who did the pitch assessment, had clearly said that it is a belter, with the sun beating down, and team winning the toss should bat first and put runs on the board, to put pressure on the team batting second.
Why would you field first when batting is your strength and chasing is the weakeness of team Pakistan? So, why not bat the opposition out of the game?
Kohli's line of thinking may have been because he is a master at chasing and has won many matches for team India while chasing.
But then, where were those matches won? Against which teams and which tournaments? Most of the matches Kohli chased were in bilateral series in their home country and none in an ICC tournament of 50 overs.
Why go far? In the 2015 World Cup opening match against Pakistan in Adelaide,  Dhoni won the toss and batted first and Kohli himself scored a hundred as India beat Pakistan easily. And, as always, Pakistan struggled while chasing.
In the same tournament in the semifinals against Australia, Australia won the toss and batted first and beat India hands down and Kohli failed miserably, scoring one run in 15 balls.
The wicket was same as it was at the oval but Australia felt the best way to beat India was to put runs on the board and put pressure on the opponents. India, who were unbeaten in the tournament until then, were soundly beaten in the semifinals and Dhoni had admitted that had he won the toss, the result might have been different.
Even in 2011 Champions Trophy, India had lost to Pakistan as they could not chase 300 runs as batting first was always Pakistan's strength.
Barring Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, this was a young Pakistan team and Sarfraz was leading them for the first time in an ICC tournament. And we all saw how Pakistan barely managed to chase against Sri Lanka in their last league game, despite getting a good start.
The 1992 World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan won many matches by batting first as he felt Pakistan's strength has been their bowling. And, in this tournament, it was their bowlers who brought them back, starting with the game against South Africa, then Sri Lanka and lastly England.
That India would chase was pre-decided by Kohli just because he believed in himself. But I am afraid no player is bigger than the team and Kohli has cost India this Champions Trophy.
Twenty-five years of dominance over Pakistan in ICC tournaments has been shattered by the over confidence of one player, and sadly, that being the captain of India.
Without taking away any credit from Pakistan, who showed that they can be world beaters on their day.

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