Manchester: After missing out on the opportunity to enter the finals of the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, Indian skipper Virat Kohli shed light on why as to wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni came out to bat at number seven against New Zealand.
His remarks came after India's 18-run loss against New Zealand in the semi-final in Manchester on Wednesday. Dhoni played a knock of 50 runs but he was dismissed via run-out in the penultimate over, ending the hopes of an Indian win.
"He was given this role of playing with the lower order after the first few matches. So that was the game plan. I think today Dhoni was batting with Jadeja. There had to be a good balance in the team, if one is striking the ball well, the other has to play second fiddle," Kohli told reporters at the post-match conference.
When asked on Dhoni's future in the ODI team, skipper Kohli replied: "He hasn't told us anything about this matter".
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja had a sensational match as he scored 77 runs and went on to take one wicket. His exploits, however, were not enough for the Men in Blue as they capitulated in the end.
Jadeja and Dhoni got together when India were reeling at 92/6 and they stitched together a partnership of 116 runs.
Recently, former Indian cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar had called Jadeja a 'bits and pieces" player and this comment irked Jadeja who responded by saying that he's had enough of Manjrekar's verbal diarrhoea. Kohli said that there was no need of saying anything to Jadeja after what had happened in the last week.
"I do not think any one of us had to say something to Jadeja after what had happened in the last week. He has three triple hundreds in first-class cricket, the talent has always been there. In my opinion, this was his best knock. He was very motivated. When he was batting, we felt we could have won the match. I am really happy for him," Kohli said.
After the match ended Kohli had said 45-minutes of bad cricket cost Men in Blue the match. The Indian Premier League (IPL) has playoff matches in which the top side gets two chances to make it to the finals. Kohli said that if topping the table has any significance in the World Cup, the playoff thing can be brought into use in World Cup cricket.
"Who knows in future, maybe, if topping the table means anything, then these things can be taken into account. However, there's a different kind of challenge in the knock-out games," Kohli said.
The Indian top-order failed to rise up to the occasion as the first-three batsman were dismissed with just 5 runs on the board. KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli all scored just a single run and it was the first time in cricket that the first three batsmen of any team were dismissed for one run.
Kohli said it was very disappointing to not produce a good performance when the team required him to do so.
"It was very disappointing for not displaying a good performance when the team required me to do so. I think game pretty match changed in the first 40 minutes of our innings. New Zealand deserves a lot of credit for bowling tight line and length. The pressure created by them was immense," Kohli said.
"We feel bad for the result, but everyone goes out to the middle to win the match for their country. These games are called knock-out for a reason, the opposition played better than us. Today we were not good enough," he added.
Rishabh Pant was looking good in the middle as he played a knock of 32 runs, but the batsman got out at a crucial juncture leaving the team in a spot of bother. Kohli called Pant an instinctive player and said he will learn in future.
"He's an instinctive player. He did well to curb his natural gameplay. It was commendable. He's still young. I have made many errors in the starting days of my career as well. He will learn in the future," Kohli said.
New Zealand ended India's campaign at the World Cup as they defeated the Men in Blue by 18 runs. India got off to a horrendous start while chasing a moderate target of 240 on the reserve day. The Kiwi bowlers rattled the top-order of India. Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni rebuilt the innings and added 116 runs.
Trent Boult changed the match contours as he dismissed Jadeja. Towards the end when the onus was on Dhoni, Martin Guptill pulled off a close run out. India were bundled out on 221. Earlier, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson helped New Zealand post 239 runs for the loss of eight wickets in a rain-hit innings after electing to bat.