New Delhi: Cricket-mad Indians tried yesterday 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 unexpected 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, chasing 240 to win, lost by 18 runs.
“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 “not big” 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.
“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 greats Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman said that Dhoni’s experience meant he should have batted higher in the order.
“It was a tactical blunder... The stage was set for Dhoni,” Laxman said.
On the streets of Delhi, fans were disappointed but philosophical.
“Well I thought we should have won. But well I suppose cricket is cricket,” said Gorinder Wallia. “We have to accept it.”
Kohli’s last three scores in World Cup semi-finals have now been nine, one, one – the US emergency number – a coincidence not lost on some Twitter users.
“For sure that calls for an emergency,” tweeted one, Rohit Thakur.
Many focused on the heroics of top-scorer Jadeja, whose sword-twirling bat celebration after reaching 50 was as a rare moment of cheer.
“When he walked out to bat, situation was dire. Dirge played in the stands... Chest out, brisk walk, and steely glint in his eyes. In six balls we knew he meant business,” the Indian Express said.
Former India opener Virender Sehwag said the all-rounder’s rapid 77 was “an outstanding innings” and got India back into the game.
“Yet it was a case of so near yet so far,” he said.