Defeated but not disgraced

Indians put up a great show till the final where they were no match for Pak

Defeated but not disgraced

The Indian cricket team’s worst fears came true as they suffered a rare collective failure on the biggest day to lose their precious Champions Trophy crown to arch-rivals Pakistan on an unforgettable Sunday.

Although they were outplayed by an inspired Pakistan and suffered one of the heaviest defeat in the final of an ICC event in terms of runs (the margin being 180), the Men In Blue can still walk away with their heads held high for the all-round professionalism they displayed. The final was one of those days when everything went right for Pakistan and almost nothing went right for India. 

The day the Indians touched down in England, their build-up was marred by the alleged rift between skipper Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble. Various theories kept floating as to how Kohli and Co were not happy working under the spin legend as they found him like a ‘school headmaster’.

While Kohli and the BCCI authorities kept rubbishing the claims as just pure media speculation, the cold vibes between the captain and the coach were obvious during practice sessions. An unhappy relationship between the two major forces that the team doesn’t bode well for the others in the squad but the entire unit performed its duty seemingly unaffected.

No praise is enough for leader Kohli, whose energy and the desire to keep raising the bar are infectious. Kohli, apart from being caught in a needless controversy, arrived for the Champions Trophy in poor form. But, in one of the premier cricketing events, the Delhiite led from the front, hammering 258 runs, including three half-centuries and also becoming the fastest man to 8000 ODI runs.

It was Kohli’s first ICC event as man in charge and judging by the calls he’s made and the confidence and assuredness he brings, it is safe to say that the Indian team is in good hands.

Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma also excelled in their roles. Dhawan was returning to the side after being dropped last year while Rohit was making a comeback. But both resumed their roles as if they weren't separated at all with Dhawan topping the run charts with 338 runs and Rohit (304) one place behind him. With an injured K L Rahul waiting in the wings, it only augurs well for Indian cricket.

The Indian pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were in good form for the majority of the tournament. Despite the pitches not offering much help and swing hardly present, they showed good skill and temperament to outfox the rival batsmen. They were good at the start of the innings and accurate at the death as well.

The find of the tournament is Hardik Pandya. The highly-rated Baroda all-rounder came in with a lot of hype and he certainly lived up to it. He bowled well in the middle overs and in the two games against Pakistan he showed how destructive he can be with the bat as well.

Disappointments were spinners Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, who were instrumental in India's triumph four years ago. Normally an economical bowler, Jadeja conceded 5.92 runs per over this event against a career economy of 4.92 to endure an ordinary event. Ashwin, who played three games, looked well below his best. Injuries and fatigue following a punishing 2015-16 season could have played a role in their poor show.

Veterans M S Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, with the limited chances they got, did reasonably well. Both made a half-century each and showed the swagger of old is still intact. Dhoni also doubles up as a consulting advisor for Kohli and can be seen often offering words of advice for the bowlers too.

With two years left for the World Cup in England, bulk of the team seems to have taken shape. The performance of youngsters like Rishab Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Kuldeep Yadav will be also be keenly watched in the coming days. If they too click then Indians could be a force to reckon with.


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