Cricket-mad Indians tried Thursday to come to terms with their shock World Cup exit, with the Times of India telling readers “The Sun will still rise tomorrow” and Ravindra Jadeja emerging as a new national hero.
The defeat to New Zealand in Wednesday’s semi-final came after a top-order batting collapse had left them teetering at 24-4.
Jadeja and veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni, renowned as one of the game’s great finishers, rekindled the hopes of the cricket-crazy nation with a fighting seventh-wicket century partnership but it wasn’t enough as India, cahsing 240 to win, fell 18 runs short.
“For a while it looked like he (Dhoni) would turn back the clock and script another great escape, but that was not to be,” wrote the Indian Express under the headline “The un-finisher”.
Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar said the target was straightforward but India had been too reliant on the top three in the batting order — Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and captain Virat Kohli — who each only scored one run.
“I am disappointed because we should have chased 240 without any doubt. It wasn’t a big total,” Tendulkar told India Today.
“But I feel that we can’t be all the time relying on Rohit to give a good start or Virat to come and make sure that a solid foundation is built,” he said.
“It’s not fair all the time to expect Dhoni to come and finish the game. He has done it time and again,” Tendulkar said, while also praising Kane Williamson’s “incredible” captaincy for the Black Caps.
Former spin bowler Harbhajan Singh tweeted that the result was “heart breaking”.
And former greats Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman said that Dhoni’s experience meant he should have batted higher in the order.
“Dhoni should have come ahead of (Hardyk) Pandya. It was a tactical blunder. Dhoni should have walked in ahead of Dinesh Karthik. The stage was set for Dhoni,” Laxman said.
Former captain Ganguly said that Dhoni would have had a calming effect had he come in sooner.
“India needed experience at that stage. If Dhoni was there when (Rishabh) Pant was batting, he would not have allowed Pant to play that shot against the breeze,” Ganguly said after the youngster holed out on the boundary to put India in further strife at 71-5.
“Dhoni should have batted up. You need that composure and not just his batting.”