MANCHESTER: Sachin Tendulkar led the cricketing fraternity in lauding the fighting spirit of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, but said the Indian batting cannot always rely on its famed top-order to deliver the goods.
A disappointed Tendulkar said Indian batsmen made a mountain out of a molehill during their 240-run chase, losing the match by 18 runs to crash out of the tournament.
“I am disappointed because we should have chased 240 without any doubt. It wasn’t a big total. Yes, New Zealand got off to a dream start by picking those 3 wickets upfront,” Tendulkar said.
“But I feel that we can’t be all the time relying on Rohit (Sharma) to give a good start or Virat (Kohli) to come and make sure that a solid foundation is built. Players around them also will have to take more responsibility,” the batting maestro told ‘India Today’.
After restricting New Zealand to a modest 239 for eight, the famed Indian top-order failed for the first time in the tournament, as Virat Kohli and his men were all out for 221 in 49.3 overs.
In fact, at one point of time, India were completely down and out of the game after the Kiwi bowlers reduced them to 92 for six.
But then, Dhoni (50) and Jadeja (77) joined hands and stitched 116 runs for the seventh wicket to keep India in the contest.
“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.
He also lauded New Zealand’s incisive bowling display and skipper Kane Williamson’s tactical moves.
“There came a stage where New Zealand kept things simple. If you saw their fast bowlers, they didn’t try too much upfront. They just bowled in the right areas, right channels and got those wickets,” he said.
“I felt Kane Williamson’s captaincy was incredible.”
He also tweeted that he was heartbroken just like every Indian supporter.
“A good fight put up by @imjadeja & @msdhoni but @BLACKCAPS were exceptional today. Congrats to (New Zealand) on making it to the Finals & all the best for the same.
I felt #KaneWilliamson’s captaincy & composure played a crucial role in this result.”
Former India middle-order batsman VVS Laxman said Dhoni and Jadeja were brilliant even though they couldn’t finish the job.
“Congratulations to Kane Williamson and the @BLACKCAPS for making it to a second successive World Cup Finals. Ravindra Jadeja along with Dhoni fought brilliantly and got India so close but NZ were brilliant with the new ball and that was decisive,” Laxman tweeted.
Harbhajan Singh wrote on Twitter: “Feeling heart broken for @BCCI. Congratulations to @BLACKCAPS. Well done @imjadeja.”
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir wrote on his Twitter handle: “I’m proud of the way @BCCI played at the @cricketworldcup. It’s disappointing but that’s the nature of the game. Well played @BLACKCAPS on a fantastic game and all the best for the final.”
Cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar wrote: “India no less a champion side in my eyes. Won 7 lost 2. Last one narrowly. Well done India!”
“Well played Jadeja!,” Manjrekar wrote about the all-rounder whom he had called ‘bits and pieces’ player.
India Test player Ajinkya Rahane wrote: “Well played #TeamIndia throughout the tournament! We fought hard and took it close.”
Suresh Raina felt despite being knocked out, India won millions of hearts with their performance in the World Cup.
“Tough luck, boys. Well played. You’ve won hearts with your efforts throughout the tournament. Congratulations @BLACKCAPS,” he wrote on his twitter handle.
India pacer Ishant Sharma also expressed the same sentiments as he tweeted: “Well played boys!!! One bad day, you were brilliant the entire tournament. So heads up and let’s move forward!! Jai Hind! #TeamIndia.”
Former Australia skipper Michael Clarke was effusive in his praise for Williamson’s captaincy.
“Congratulations absolutely brilliant win. Kane Williamson take a bow, outstanding captaincy. Bad luck to team India,” he tweeted.
Ex-Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi tweeted: “Stunning result in Manchester!! I had predicted an England-India final but NZ have been brilliant, unbelievable effort to restrict this India batting for such low total. Great game for Jadeja, hard luck India.” PTI