After Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to field first, Pakistan posted an imposing total of 338/4 featuring Fakhar Zaman’s maiden one-day international hundred, an innings where he might have been run out for one and was caught off a no-ball on three.
It all left India needing to set new tournament record for a team batting second to win if they were to retain the title they won in England four years ago. Instead, India were first reduced to 33/3 and eventually were all out for 158 in about 30 overs – not what Kohli would have expected after winning the toss.
In his post-match conference, the Indian captain spoke about, what went wrong in the chase, Hardik Pandya’s lone effort, Indian bowling’s problems with conceding extras and more. Here’s the full transcript.
Q. Winning the toss and a wicket on the no ball, did you feel any pleasant moment in this match?
Kohli: Any what?
Q. Pleasant moment. You won the toss and got a wicket on the no ball. Did you have any other pleasant moments in this match?
Kohli: For who?
Q. For you.
Kohli: How can no ball be pleasant for me?
Q. Because you got the wicket.
Kohli: Was that even sensible? I don’t know what’s happening.
Q. Throughout the tournament you mentioned the word composure, staying cool, not getting excited; where did we go wrong today, considering the fact that we have such a fabulous batting lineup which did not show the accomplishment you probably desired?
Kohli: 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.
Q. You probably thought that 339 was a score that could be chased, but early wickets probably dented it
Kohli: See, you can never tell in a short format game in a chase because when Hardik [Pandya] started hitting, everyone started getting the feeling that if we could take the game deep – there was a pleasant moment, sir, for you. (Laughter.) If we can 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.
Q. Virat, I was supposed to ask about Hardik, but you always back him and his talent. Today the way he was batting, we were in the press box, and the Pakistan media were talking about him, maybe he can pull out this from here. Was that thought coming in your mind, as well, when he was hitting so well? And he was very upset; is he all right?
Kohli: 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.
Q. Virat, you’ve been extremely honest and gracious, which is a very good quality. I was just wondering from a passionate captain like you how difficult was it seeing the team, the batting disintegrate early, talking purely from a personal point of view, what were your own emotions? When you were out, it’s not that the whole team was out, but what did you feel subsequently?
Kohli: 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.
Q. Virat, I imagine you’re not happy that you have lost a match but you are still happy you have done very well in this tournament. Do you feel what Pakistan did today is a big moment in our region because Pakistan and India are playing at the same level in the same region, so do you think it will be a move for the regional cricket in Pakistan?
Kohli: I cannot comment on that, but they really had a good performance. I congratulated them in the post-match. I would do the same here because they deserved to win. They certainly played really good cricket, and they also needed victories like these for them as a team. You understand those dynamics as a team. Things are not happening and then you win a tournament like this. So yeah, credit to them for winning the title today.
Q. For a bowler like Ashwin, white ball cricket, like do you think as a technical person he needs to revisit his plans when he’s bowling with two new balls on flat decks, especially when it’s a challenge for spinners? Do you think – what is your take as captain?
Kohli: 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 four on a shot 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.
Q. You said that you played with a game plan against Pakistan, keeping in mind the opposition. Do you think somewhere playing two spinners on this track backfired? Would you say that?
Kohli: 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.
Q. How much did Zaman’s and Azhar’s high-risk cricket upset the bowlers’ rhythms where they couldn’t actually get plans? How much did it actually upset the bowlers’ rhythms?
Kohli: See, when a guy like – I mean, Azhar [Ali] is a very conventional cricketer; he plays shots that you can plan against, and you can still have bowling plans and so forth, but a guy like [Fakhar] Zaman, when he gets going because he plays a number of shots, when players like that get going on their day, it becomes real difficult to stop them because I think 80% of his shots were high-risk and they were all coming off. So you can only do so much, as I said, as a bowler and as a captain when that is happening and you try to hit the best day as possible for those players. But sometimes you have to sit and say, the guy is good enough on the day to tackle anything. You can only do so much. As I said, the control of us becomes very little when people are going well like that, and 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. We tried our best to hit good areas, as I said, but they just batted really well today.
Q. For India’s bowling in terms of the extras conceded, 25 extras, how disappointing was that to see, and why do you think it happened?
Kohli: The extras are something that are - never a good feeling to concede so many. That is something that we need to keep a check on. You know, those things are something that are controllable. A guy hitting a good shot is something that after a stage it’s not in your control, you’ve already bowled the ball, but conceding extras is something that we can control as a team, and yeah, I mean, 25 extras is a bit too much in a game like that, and 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 bat. But 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.
Q. For a quality team, how hard is it to sit down and analyse these defeats? I mean, is that another challenge as captain?
Kohli: Not at all. I mean, we analyse our victories, also. We analyse defeats, as well. As I said, you learn with every cricket game that you play. It’s up to you whether you are open to learning things or you’re not. I mean, if you’re happy with success and then you’re completely ignoring it, and you want to ignore failures or dwell too much in it, it’s not a good balance at all. We have identify areas, even in victories, that we can improve at, and this is a loss. I mean, it’s the final, so it looks magnified to everyone, but we have won before, we have lost before, and we have always learnt things from all those games. There’s nothing – there’s no game that we play that we feel like, oh, we don’t even need to look back and see what we can improve on, and definitely when you haven’t done things right, more things have gone wrong in a game, you obviously sit down and analyse and learn from it.
Q. Do you take heart from the fact that you were batting very well in this tournament, given the fact that previously you had not done well in England and given the fact that India has to come here for the next two years for important assignments?
Kohli: I said it when I came here, it doesn’t matter if it is happening in England or Australia or South Africa. This is cricket, and we’re here to play good games and win games of cricket. It wasn’t about me coming to England and doing well. It was about the team doing well, and we have done well to be in the finals. 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, but credit to everyone for standing up and showing that resilience and reaching the finals, and today we were outplayed in all departments.