Outplayed by Pakistan in all departments, India succumbed to a 180-run defeat in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday (June 18). Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, lauded the rivals for showing better composure in the all-important game while also admitting that his team just couldn’t match up. He also praised allrounder Hardik Pandya, who top scored with a blistering 43-ball 76 when all else failed, and backed R Ashwin, who leaked as many as 70 runs in his 10-over quota. Excerpts from his post-match press conference:
‘You have to accept the other team outplayed you’
On where it went wrong for India in the all-important final
I think everyone desires composure, not just me but the players, as well, individually, and everyone wants to go out there and do well. No one goes out there to throw their wicket away or get out. We give our best every time we go out on the field, and I’m really proud of the way the team has played in this tournament. The cricket is played between two teams. There’s no one team on the box, so you have to accept losses, you have to accept that the other team has outplayed you and they’ve shown better skill than you, they’ve shown better composure in pressure situations than you. Yes, we have shown the composure in pressure situations most often in this tournament, but that is no guarantee that you’re going to do it every time. Obviously your best effort is to try and do it every time, but cricket is not about doing well in every game that you play. You will have failures, and one team has to lose on the day, and today was our day to lose because the opposition played much better than us.
‘One big partnership would have been the key’
On whether the early wickets dented India’s chaces right at the start
See, you can never tell in a short format game in a chase because when Hardik started hitting, everyone started getting the feeling that if we could take the game deep… then we can probably get closer to the total, and that’s the kind of ability players have these days. But again, a mix-up or an error at that stage, so these things happen on the field, you understand that as cricketers, but yeah, early wickets are never good, especially in a chase. Then we kept losing wickets. One big partnership would have been the key to set it up nicely, but as I said, credit to the opposition. They’ve also come to express their skill and win a cricket game, and they certainly did. They had to own their win. They made us make those mistakes because of the way they were bowling and the way they applied the pressure in the field, as well, and we have no hesitations or shame to admit that we could not play our best game today.
‘Hardik can be a match-winner for us’
On whether the disappointment of a terrible mix-up with Jadeja got to him
He’s fine. Obviously everyone who plays for the country is committed to winning cricket matches for the team, and he’s a very passionate, very committed cricketer. He felt he was in the zone today and he could have done something really special, and that’s why the disappointment came out, and that’s part of playing international sport. You’re so committed, you’re so motivated that when things don’t happen, and without even it being a mistake, it can get frustrated. You don’t understand why it has happened. But yeah, the way he batted today and the way he bowled and the way he fielded, that’s exactly why we back him, because he can be the match winner for us in situations where the team is in trouble. I mean, today was a bit too far-fetched because we knew one more wicket and it will keep getting tougher. But yeah, when he was striking it well, I think he also felt and everyone in the changing room felt that if he can go on for a bit more, then things could become interesting, but yeah, unfortunately that didn’t happen.
‘We just couldn’t make things happen today’
On how difficult was it seeing the batting disintegrate early
Yeah, it’s always a bad feeling when you get out or the batting doesn’t work collectively, and everyone feels bad about not having contributed to the team in any way. So yeah, I also felt the same kind of emotions, but you know, you’ve played enough to understand that your job is done, you tried your best, and then you can’t control anything afterwards. In the end, you know, you have to accept and admire sometimes the skill of the opposition, as well, and see that, you know, they also have come to win a game of cricket. Not that we are not playing at our best; we tried our level best, but we just couldn’t make things happen today. But personally, yes, it does feel bad. But you have to understand that you can only control so many things and the game has to move on from there on, so that’s the kind of thinking I have when these things happen.
‘It’s not humanly possible to not concede boundaries and sixes’
On whether Ashwin needs to revisit his plans, especially on flat decks
Every spinner has challenges on flat decks, even every spinner could go for runs like when Hardik started hitting today, although the late spinner was bowling well, he could still travel for runs. You can’t really sit and pinpoint these things in white ball cricket, especially on wickets like these where if a batsman gets going, it really becomes difficult for the spinner and people are slogging across the line and getting away with it. You can’t really do much as a spinner because you’re making them play where you want to play, but still, they are executing those shots. There’s only so much you can do as a bowler, I feel, watching from the sideline, and then you have to accept that, yes, this was a high-risk shot and I can accept getting hit for a four on a short like that. It’s not humanly possible to not concede boundaries and sixes. You have to understand whether you made the batsman hit where you wanted him to hit and take a risk, or you have bowled a bad ball. I think that’s the only analysis a person needs to do and nothing more.
‘I have no regrets in playing this combination’
On whether playing two spinners on the Oval track backfired
Not at all. We created a combination after the loss against Sri Lanka. We didn’t want to be too predictable from there on in the tournament, and two spinners together did a good job for us. I have no regrets in playing the combination that we played today, and we have stuck to the same ever since we lost to Sri Lanka, so I have no feelings otherwise about the combination.