As Virat Kohli led India to a stunning six-wicket victory and passage to the semi-finals of the World T20 on Sunday, Aussie captain Steve Smith was left ruing another painful exit in the only format of the game his country has failed to taste the ultimate success.
Australia has won pretty much everything there is to win in the cricket world, but the World T20 crown has remained elusive for six editions now. The closest Australia came to correcting that anomaly was in the 2010 edition in the Caribbean, when Kevin Pietersen played a brilliant knock in the final to help Paul Collingwood lift the trophy.
“It’s all international cricket and we are playing against the best players from around the world,” the Australian skipper said as he tried to put a finger down on why Australia hasn’t cracked the World T20 puzzle yet. “So, they all present different challenges. We haven’t done as well as we would have liked in T20Is, we are still learning but hopefully we can continue to get better. It’s very compressed isn’t it, you can see an innings like that and one guy taking the game away from the team, which you may not have the luxury of doing in the longer format. It was a pretty serious innings from Virat Kohli tonight to take the game away from us.”
Kohli went into overdrive in the last three overs of the chase with India needing 39, smashing two fours and a six from James Faulkner’s 18th over and four fours in Nathan Coulter-Nile’s 19th. “Perhaps he could have taken the pace off a bit more,” said Smith of the Coulter-Nile over. “He did it for two balls, Virat didn’t get bat on both of those. Then, he seemed to bowl more on pace and they went to the boundary. Just looked like anything Virat did at that point was going to go to the boundary. It was a serious innings, hats off. I told Nathan after the game that it’s difficult. [You’ve] just got to keep your head up. We always face these sort of situations in cricket. That’s the game, you don’t always come off. You just have to learn from it and try and get better.”
Smith was asked if, considering the present scenario, it was fair to compare Kohli with Sachin Tendulkar. “I think they are different players,” he replied. “Virat Kohli is an extremely talented and very good player, and has been for a long time. You have got to see the way he played tonight, timed the chase to perfection. He has done that so consistently in T20 cricket. He averages 60-odd while chasing, which I think is remarkable. Tonight was just another example of that. He played beautifully, and hats off to him.”