India v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, final, The Oval June 18, 2017

'We leave with our heads held high' - Kohli


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'Unorthodox batsmen like Zaman hard to stop' - Kohli

In the end, Virat Kohli fronted up with a smile on his face. He had lost a match that India entered as favourites. India had a superior record over Pakistan at ICC events, including a win when the sides last met in the final of a global event, the World T20 in 2007. But it all came tumbling down in the final as Pakistan's bowlers unraveled the Indian batting unit like a pod of green peas.

India were that bad. Batting, bowling, fielding and intensity - they fell short in each of these facets of their game they had worked hard to improve in every subsequent match this tournament. Kohli was honest in defeat, gave credit to Pakistan for being the better team, but pointed that India should be proud to finish as the runner-up.

"We can be very proud of that as a unit, and we leave here with our heads held high because we understand the kind of expectations and pressures we face as a team," Kohli said. "Credit to everyone for standing up and showing that resilience and reaching the finals, and today we were outplayed in all departments.

"They had to earn 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."

Kohli did not hesitate to bowl first, perhaps because of India's comfort factor in chases. He has done so Bangladesh in the semi-finals too. When it was their turn to bat, Mohammad Amir turned the match by removing Rohit Sharma and Kohli in his first two overs. Kohli admitted failure to stitch a partnership didn't help matters.

"Early wickets are never good, especially in a chase," he said. "Then we kept losing wickets. One big partnership would have been the key to set it up nicely. It is always a bad feeling when you get out or the batting doesn't work collectively. 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."

There were a couple of bright sparks, though: Bhuvneshwar Kumar walking virtually unscathed through the ring of fire and Hardik Pandya finally living up to the potential his captain had been speaking about throughout the campaign.

Pandya was hungry to bowl throughout the Pakistan innings and was the second-most economical Indian bowler behind Bhuvneshwar. Bowling with intensity and hard lengths, Pandya bowled some tight middle overs. He showed the same attitude with the bat.

India were down and out at 72 for 6 in 17 overs. Unaffected, Pandya smashed a 32-ball half-century to give India a glimmer of hope. "When Hardik started hitting, everyone started getting the feeling that we could take the game deep," Kohli said. "That was a pleasant moment. If we can take the game deep, then we can probably get closer to the total. But again, a mix-up or an error at that stage, so these things happen on the field, you understand that as cricketers."

That mix-up was Pandya being run out after Ravindra Jadeja turned his back on him. Pandya bared his frustrations out in public, exchanging words with Jadeja and then grunting loudly all the way back to the dressing room. Kohli was clear Pandya did not need to be apologetic about letting his emotions get the better of him.

"He felt he was in the zone today and he could have done something really special, and that's why the disappointment came out. You're so committed, you're so motivated that when things don't happen, and without even it being a mistake, it can get frustrating. You don't understand why it has happening."

Earlier in the morning, Pakistan had plugged away as soon as their opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali raised a robust 128-run partnership, which could only be broken through a run out. Kohli said it was Zaman who hurt India the most by his "high risk" strokeplay.

"When guys like Zaman get going, he plays unorthodox shots, they're really difficult to stop," he said. "Eighty percent of his shots were high risk and they were all coming off. Sometimes you have to sit and say, the guy is good enough on the day to tackle anything. You can only do so much.

"We certainly tried to make them hit in areas that we felt it would be uncomfortable, but we just didn't have anything going our way in that partnership. Yes, they opened it up a little bit, but they kept going positive, which was something that could have upset the lines and lengths of the bowlers."

The one area Kohli felt they could have done better was with the extras. India conceded 25 on Sunday, which he felt was a bit too much. "That's something that we certainly need to take care of in the future. Obviously the same bowlers are going to play, the same guys are going to be back. The more consistent you get in learning from games like this, it's better for the team in the future. So yeah, that's an area we certainly need to look at."

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • deshwani on June 21, 2017, 19:16 GMT

    Though Kohli is a great batsman but no a great captain... he has not captaincy skills which Dhoni had.. Everybody know who gives advises in match and everytime Kohli have to ask Dhoni to take actions.. if Dhoni is sill playing for India then he must be captain till his retirement. Afterward, Ashwin or Rohit can lead the team...

  • nexus-7 on June 21, 2017, 16:43 GMT

    If Dhoni and Yuvraj won't be there for WC 2019, I am not sure how Kohli is going to manage on his own? What are his plans? Does he want to go into WC 2019 with an intention, desire and motivation to win the cup, or would he simply hold his 'head high' again as usual if the team gets knocked out in QF or SF ? India needs a captain with a plan and a vision for the future, just like how Dhoni was. Unfortunately, I am not seeing those qualities in Kohli :(

  • SACHINNRUPATUNGA on June 21, 2017, 12:39 GMT

    First of all Mr. Virat Kohli is not right person to cptain to india he is a ego and arogant person, Virat kohli under captaincy India never achieve in top level tournaments like W.C, T W/c. he will probably step down in his captaincy in few months. We do not Agree is win the toss and elected to bowl C.T final he is not matured captain

  • koushikkrishna on June 21, 2017, 12:26 GMT

    The immediate step they need to make is 1) Jadeja should be demoted as player who can play only in matches in india.. He should not give chance for overseas. 2) Rohith Sharma.. has a starting trouble for every match and always gets out for LBWs..that needs to changed.

    3) give extensive military strict training for Bumra in bowling. So that he wont give that many extras 10 +

  • kashomasho on June 21, 2017, 12:07 GMT

    India is still the better team of the world. one bad game doesn't show any conclusion. Pakistan was outstanding that day .

  • WeirdBeard420 on June 21, 2017, 11:52 GMT

    Kohli deserves to hold his head high! Just getting this India team to the final is an amazing achievement, given his team's overall mediocrity. India can sometimes score runs and take wickets at home, when pitches are prepared to suit their abilities, but it's no secret that India barely make the top-10 when playing outside the subcontinent. Be proud, Virat! Never mind the haters and the bandwagon fans! This result for India is far better than what is expected on paper...

  • cricfan1526790275 on June 21, 2017, 4:38 GMT

    How can Kohli leave with his held high when he lost the final?? Baffles me. He has to much of a big ego and thinks the limelight should always b in him (thats y Kumble resigned), he is a great batsmen no doubt, but not a good captain and his attitude stinks, not good 4 rest of team, he should stay quite and jus do his job which is gettin runs and winning.

  • nexus-7 on June 21, 2017, 1:16 GMT

    "We leave with our heads held high" Hmmm so you didn't play CT 2017 to defend your title from last CT tournament? I am not really sure what Kohli means by the above? Well, it's nice that he lauded the Pakistani players as for sure they played awesome. But should he have instead said, we are disappointed that we could not win the cup.. right? Because that was superbly pathetic & embarrassing in the way they lost. So, how does one feel great after such a show? :p

  • cricfan2943626600 on June 21, 2017, 1:07 GMT

    i really cannot see how kohli can have his head held high after such a humiliating loss. his contribution in the final was nothing. he should have batted first after winning the toss. it was a stupid decision to put pakistan in. india lost the most important match of the CT so how can kohli feel proud of that. i think kohli is too arrogant and should be replaced as captain. i feel someone like shikhar dhawan or rohit will make a better captain.

  • Adisaggi on June 20, 2017, 22:35 GMT

    Time for yuvraj and rohit to go and let new comers come in. Moreover outside india, jadeja is not required in the team.Well his batting hasn't improved over the years and bowling hasn't been effective outside sub continent. Too much hype about Jaspreet Bhumbrah and Kedhar Jadhav.Raina has a very good record, strange he wasn't picked.Shami and Karthik were in the squad but didn't get a chance.Here is what should be the playing 11. 1.Shikhar Dhawan 2.Rishabh Pant 3.Virat Kohli 4.Ajinkhya Rahane 5.M.S.Dhoni/Kartik 6.Raina 7.Pandya 8.Ashwin/Kuldeep Yadav 9.Bhuveshwar 10.Shami 11.Bhumrah/Umesh

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