A dejected Virat Kohli admitted that despite playing some of the best cricket throughout the tournament 45 minutes of poor cricket in the semifinal is what cost them a place in the final of the Cricket World Cup 2019.
Chasing New Zealand's 239/7, the Indian top order for the first time in this tourney was put under pressure and they wilted. Matt Henry (3/37) and Trent Boult (2/42) ran India's famed batting unit ragged reducing them to 5/3 and soon 24/4.
Kohli, giving the New Zealand bowlers due credit confessed that the stuttering start cost India the match eventually.
"To go out after 45 minutes of poor cricket is saddening. It breaks your heart too," said Kohli at the post-match press conference. "A spell of bad cricket and you're out of the tournament. But you have to accept it.
"You obviously feel bad for the result. Everyone wants to win the game for the team. If it doesn't happen, you can look at things in hindsight. That's why it's a knockout. We have to accept that. We're sad but not devastated."
India would have harboured hopes of chasing down the 240-run target despite the surface a bit two-paced and the conditions overcast. But Henry and Boult sent back Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli - India's top three run scorer's in the tournament - for 1 each to stymie the progress.
While Kohli said that the shot selection of the top order could have been better, he was also effusive in praise of the New Zealand seamers who were on the dot at all times.
"The game pretty much changed in the first 40 minutes when we were batting. NZ deserves credit, they put up a great display on how to bowl with the new ball. They hit good line and length and forced us to make errors. The pressure created was immense. The first spell made all the difference," Kohli conceded.
"Rohit got a really good ball. My ball was also decent. A couple of shot selections could have been better. We were confident we can get 240. NZ did not provide any opportunity for us. We didn't get a ball to drive in the first seven overs or so."
Despite being reduced to 24/4, India made quite a fist of the chase with Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya stitching a 47-run stand for the fifth wicket. But Pant fell at a crucial juncture to a cross-batted heave to be caught at deep midwicket for 32.
The dismissal left Kohli in the change room visibly agitated but the Indian captain insisted the 20-year-old will learn from his mistakes and become a better player in future.
"Pant is an instinctive player. He strung in a partnership with Hardik, it was quite commendable. He's young. I've made many errors when I was young. He will learn," said Kohli on Pant.
"He has a lot of pride and passion to play for the country. The person who makes the error suffers the most. I'm sure he'll reflect on it and come out better."
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