Favourites going into the semi-finals, one bad day in office ruined India’s World Cup hopes, and Virat Kohli suggested the International Cricket Council to consider introducing Indian Premier League-style playoffs in the knockout stages in future to ensure a level-playing field.
By his own admission, India lost the match in the first 45 minutes of their chase of 240, shattering a billion hopes days after the team finished on top of the league stage.
Asked whether IPL-style playoffs should be an option in future, Kohli said, “Who knows in future. Maybe. If topping the table means anything. I think these things can come into consideration, looking at the magnitude of this tournament.
“That is a really valid point. You never know when that is going to be implemented.”
The Indian skipper, however, said the semi-final format has its own charm as it completely negates a team’s previous performances in the event. “But I think that’s the challenge and different kind of fun of these games as well that you have to be precise. It doesn’t matter what you have done before that. It’s a fresh day, fresh start, and if you are not good enough, you go home,” Kohli said.
“So you have to accept that, as I said. It’s a different challenge for all the teams to turn up on that day and be absolutely at the top of their game and whoever does that they get the result, as you saw today.”
Kohli was effusive in his praise for Ravindra Jadeja (77 off 59 balls), who, in the company of Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50), stitched 116 runs for the seventh wicket to keep India in the hunt.
Jadeja’s knock came after his tiff with former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, who had called the all-rounder a “bits and pieces player”.
“I don’t think we, any of us had to say anything to Jadeja after what happened over the last one week. He was quite ready to just get on to the park, to be honest (smiling),” said the India skipper. “And you saw the passion with which he played and we have seen it in Test cricket a few times, he’s played knock under tremendous pressure and he’s got three triple hundreds in first class cricket if I’m not wrong, so the talent has obviously always been there.”
Kohli rated Jadeja’ rear-guard knock as one of the best he has ever seen of the left-hander, which raised visions of an improbable win for India.
“And in my watching Jadeja for 10 years, me playing with him as well, this is probably his top quality, like best knock according to me because the kind of pressure, the stage we are at, almost out of the game and then he produces that. So he was very motivated,” he said.
“Yes, at that stage, we all felt like in the changing room the game can be closed out, it can be done, but then again he played so well and then a mistake can happen at any stage — I don’t think it was even a mistake, it was lack of execution which in one-day cricket you have to take a risk here and there,” he said.
“I’m really happy for him because he’s been a very understated cricketer but a top quality cricketer for India in the field, with the ball, with the bat, priceless.”
Kohli was also full of praise for the Black Caps, saying he wasn’t at all surprised by the way they came out fighting while defending the modest total.
“I wasn’t surprised with how New Zealand played, to be honest. If there is a low total, we knew there’s probably only one or two sides in world cricket that will put seven fielders in the ring and that was always going to be New Zealand,” he said.
“We knew they were going to attack more and not let the game go to the end, they won’t take it deep, they will go all out and play the game that way because I have seen them play that way.
“Today also third man was up in the ring. In the one-day game you had five catching fielders. So they know how to put pressure because they play very consistent cricket and today was an example of that,” he added.