LONDON: India captain Virat Kohli said the pressure created by Pakistan’s bowlers proved too much for his title-holders to handle in a stunning 180-run Champions Trophy final defeat at The Oval.
After Kohli won the toss and, surprisingly, opted to field first, Pakistan posted an imposing total of 338 for four 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. Ironically, the mark they had to top was the 322 for three made by Sri Lanka in seven-wicket win over India at The Oval on June 8 — the lone group-stage loss suffered by Kohli’s side.
The already considerable scoreboard pressure became impossible for India to cope with when Mohammad Amir reduced them to 33 for three.
The Pakistan left-arm quick’s brilliant burst of three for 16 in 28 balls saw him snare opener Rohit Sharma lbw for a duck and have Kohli, the world’s leading ODI batsman, caught off a leading edge for just five.
“They made us make those mistakes with the way they were bowling, creating that pressure,” Kohli told reporters.
If left-handed opener Fakhar rode his luck at times, he also produced an array of superb shots, notably in a first-wicket stand of 128 with Azhar Ali. “When players like that get going on their day, it becomes really difficult to stop them because I think 80 per cent of his shots were high-risk — and they were all coming off,” said Kohli.
“As a bowler and as a captain when that is happening … sometimes you have to sit and say ‘the guy is good enough on the day to tackle anything’. 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,” he added.
The Indian captain further said, “It was disappointing. Congos to Pakistan. The way they turned things around, it was amazing. They can upset anyone on their day,” Kohli said after the match. “I have a smile on my face because I am very proud of the boys. Credit to Pakistan. They outplayed us. They were more intense and more passionate. With the ball, we could have had more wicket-taking opportunities. Sometimes, the opposition does play very well. Even with the ball, they were very aggressive,” he added.
Meanwhile, reflecting on India’s tournament as a whole, Kohli insisted: “We can (still) be very proud … and we leave here with our heads held high.
“Credit to everyone for standing up and showing that resilience and reaching the finals — (but) we were outplayed in all departments. In the end … you have to accept and admire sometimes the skill of the opposition,” Kohli added sportingly.