Virat Kohli: 'They didn't let us come into the game at any stage'

Virat Kohli: ‘They didn’t let us come into the game at any stage’

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India’s captain conceded that Pakistan’s powerplay bowling had left them too much catching up to do

After India suffered their first defeat to Pakistan in World Cups, losing by ten wickets, Virat Kohli admitted that his side was outplayed. In response to India’s 151 for 7, Pakistan rattled off the target in 17.5 overs with both their openers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, hitting unbeaten half-centuries. It was India’s first ten-wicket defeat in T20Is.

“They [Pakistan] definitely outplayed us. There’s no doubt about that,” Kohli said. “You don’t win by ten wickets if you don’t outplay the opposition. We didn’t even get any chances – they were very professional and you definitely have to give them credit. We tried our best and we tried to create enough pressure on them, but they had the answers. There is no shame in accepting that a team played better than you.

“When you step onto the field as 11 players from either side, you have an equal opportunity to win the game and there’s no guarantee that you will go out there and win every match. But, having said that you also don’t go out there being casual, right? So, we tried our best, we made a decent total out of our situation and we thought we could put them under pressure, but they didn’t let us come into the game at any stage. They definitely deserve the credit for finishing off the game very strongly and not allowing us to put any pressure on them through the innings.”

Kohli reckoned that the onset of dew later in the night made life difficult for India’s attack. Earlier in the evening, Babar had opted to bowl first, citing concerns around dew.

“I wouldn’t say that it [conditions] became very, very difficult but if the pitch becomes a little better to bat on, you get off to a start, you start feeling more confident about the chase and that’s what happened,” Kohli said. “The more dew came in towards the second half of the Pakistan innings, ten overs onwards and they were able to rotate strike. We weren’t even able to get dot balls in because the pitch was obviously providing a bit more pace for the batsmen to work with. The slower balls were not holding up as much.

“So, these small little factors, they make a massive difference and as a team you need to understand what was the reality of the situation out there in the middle and that’s where those 20-25 extra runs would’ve been good. But brilliant bowling in the first six didn’t allow us to get those extra runs. We know how exactly the game went and where it went wrong and we have absolute clarity of that. That’s a good thing to know where you went wrong so that you can work on it and try and correct it and move forward. We still have a lot of matches in this tournament and if we stick to the processes we follow we definitely feel like we can overcome these mistakes.”

India will next face New Zealand at the same venue on Sunday. Kohli welcomed the week-long break, saying it will help the side reflect on their opening loss and fine-tune their plans for the rest of the tournament. Kohli had also raised concerns around player burnout in trying to cover-up for cricket lost to Covid-19 on the eve of the match. India have had a particularly busy schedule, home and away, in bio-bubbles of varying elasticities, in the past year.

“I think it [the break] works really well for us from all points of view, knowing that we’ve played a full-fledged season already,” Kohli said. “We’ve played the IPL, which is very high-octane by itself in testing conditions here in the UAE and then we come into the World Cup. So, for us, these big breaks are definitely something that will help us as a team to be in the prime physical condition that we need to play this high-intensity tournament.

“A T20 World Cup is always a high-intensity tournament. It will help us to regroup as a team to get to the practice sessions, eager to execute the things we want to and prepare in a very confident manner and then arrive on the day again to make sure again this time we execute our plans. We have enough confidence in our ability that with this preparation time we will come out once again being in a positive frame of mind. So, for us as a team, personally I can say it’s a good thing that is happening. We will have time to reflect and prepare again.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo