Manchester: India gave left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner "too much respect" after the reserve day's conditions at Old Trafford aided New Zealand in their World Cup semifinal, feels former captain K Srikkanth.
In the semifinal played over two days due to rain, the Black Caps stunned fancied India by 18 runs to reach their second successive World Cup final on Wednesday.
Rain interrupted the match when New Zealand were 211 for five in 46.1 overs after they opted to bat on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, New Zealand added 28 runs to their overnight score to finish at 239 for eight, a total which India found difficult to chase following a top-order collapse in overcast conditions.
"I think because of the rain and the match getting spilled over to a second day, that was in my opinion one of the root causes for the defeat as far as India is concerned," Srikkanth wrote in his column for the ICC.
"The rain and the overcast conditions on the second day meant the wicket helped New Zealand more than India as it was ideal for the bowlers."
Srikkanth felt if not for the rain interruption, India would have easily come out on top.
"Had it been a full day, India probably would have had it easy. I remember in the 1983 World Cup, we batted first and scored about 260 against West indies in the opening match in Manchester," he said.
"The match then went into a second day and we bowled West Indies out and won the game, so these things do happen when the games move over to the next day because of rain."
Srikkanth was effusive in his praise for New Zealand bowlers despite a 116-run seventh-wicket stand between Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) and Ravindra Jadeja (77), which raised hopes of an improbable win for India.
"New Zealand successfully defended a total of 239-8 to make the World Cup final after MS Dhoni (50) and Ravindra Jadeja (77) gave India hope but New Zealand's bowlers got the job done," he said.
"Congratulations to New Zealand but that really was a thrilling semi-final right up to the end. But if you look at the first three wickets and ask if it was bad batting or good bowling from New Zealand, I would say it was fantastic bowling by New Zealand.
"All those first three wickets, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, were outstanding international wicket-taking deliveries and got rid of players who were in brilliant form," he added.
Defending the modest total, New Zealand reduced India to five for three in 3.1 overs and that, according to Srikkanth, rocked India's backbone.
"They literally finished off the backbone of the Indian side and then there was a good fightback, hats off to MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, especially Jadeja in just his second game of the World Cup," he said.
"He (Jadeja) really made a fantastic fight out of it, he made it a brilliant game. He almost won the match alongside Dhoni and his all-round performance was brilliant for the entire match.
"His bowling was fantastic, great batting and great fielding, but he cannot do it on his own and unfortunately, he was left with too much to do in the end."
The former India opener also lauded Kane Williamson for his outstanding captaincy.
"I have to give great credit to Kane Williamson's captaincy. One thing about New Zealand's batting and bowling approach, they played to their strengths and limitations," he said.
"That's why when they were batting they didn't play the big shots as they knew they only had their two main batsmen in Williamson and Ross Taylor, they just wanted to hang around.
"They knew if those two could stay in and they could get near 250, they could make a match out of it and they ended up winning the match and reaching the final," Srikkanth added.
Srikkanth felt Indian batsmen should have been more aggressive in their approach against left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who returned impressive figures of 2/34.
"I also thought Mitchell Santner bowled brilliantly, but India gave him too much respect.
"They should have played more positively against Santner. When I say positively, that doesn't mean hitting out, it's showing some sort of positivity against Santner, putting him under pressure," he said....