Heavy favourites coming into their World Cup 2019 semi-final after topping the league stage, India's campaign came to an end in a thriller at Old Trafford and captain Virat Kohli admitted New Zealand got through to the final because "they were far sharper when it came to the crunch moments."
"It always feels disappointing when you've played such good cricket and then 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out of the tournament," Kohli told the host broadcaster at the presentation. "It's difficult to accept, it's difficult to come to terms with, but look, New Zealand deserve it because they put enough pressure on us and they were far sharper when it came to the crunch moments."
New Zealand finished fourth in the league stage, and had entered the semi-finals on the back of losses against Pakistan, Australia and England - but their bowling stepped up to dismiss India for 221 while defending 239.
WATCH on Hotstar - Jadeja's fighting 77 (India only)
"I think the first half, we were very, very good with the ball. In the field I think we were spot on," Kohli said. "Absolutely what we needed to get, we got in the field and we thought we had restricted New Zealand to a total which was quite chaseable on any surface. But, the way they came out and bowled in that first half an hour really was the difference in the game.
"We knew that we had a good day yesterday and we were very proud of that effort. And then a very professional effort again with the ball this morning. So we felt like we had the momentum and we had the right mindset to go in, but the credit has to go to the New Zealand bowlers because with the new ball I think they were outstanding with the areas that they hit, and the kind of swing that they got on the surface, the help that they got from the surface. I think it's the skill level that was on display for everyone and it made life very difficult for the batsmen."
WATCH on Hotstar - India's Powerplay collapse (India only)
Matt Henry and Trent Boult had reduced India to 24 for 4 in ten overs, and they were later 92 for 6 when Ravindra Jadeja joined MS Dhoni to revive the chase. Jadeja smashed a 59-ball 77, and while he was there, India looked like they would pull off a heist as he and Dhoni put on 116 runs for the seventh wicket. But Jadeja was caught off Boult while a crucial direct hit by Martin Guptill from backward square leg caught Dhoni just short to end India's hopes.
"I think Jaddu had an outstanding game, outstanding couple of games," Kohli said. "The way he played today was a great sign for his skillsets and what he can do for the team, and just going out with so much clarity and turning the whole game around in no time was outstanding to see. MS had a good partnership with him again and, you know, again it's a game of margins, he got run out in the end, it could have been anyone's game."
Kohli lauded India's show overall in the World Cup, only pointing to stray instances of poor shot selection as areas for improvement. "At times I think our shot selection could have been better, that's probably the only thing I can think of," he said. "Otherwise, we played really good brand of cricket and we're really proud of the way we competed in this tournament. You know, we played a good standard of cricket throughout. But as I said, come the knockouts, it's anyone's game and New Zealand showed more composure than us, and they were braver in those crunch situations so they deserve to go through to the finals."