Rohit Sharma defended India’s slow run-rate against England, insisting a deteriorating pitch and clever bowling hampered their chances of a record World Cup run chase.
The opener put on a 138 with Virat Kohli for the second wicket at Edgbaston and went onto make 102, his third century of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. But he and Kohli struggled to score fluently, with the run-rate only moving above four runs per over in the 21st as England's bowlers turned the screw.
Sharma and Kohli, who made 66, sparked an increase in tempo mid-way through the innings and that was progressed by the big-hitting Hardik Pandya (45) but it was too little too late and India finished on 306/5 – 32 runs short of the target.
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“Losing wickets put you under pressure and we lost KL (Rahul) at the start. They bowled well so it is only natural the guys who are in form bat as long as possible,” he said.
“Virat and I decided to put on a partnership. We took a long time, yes, but those were the conditions. The bowlers bowled well and we needed those guys to bat as long as possible. They were trying to hit the ball but at the end, it got pretty slow.
“You have to give credit to England’s team because they mixed up their variation nicely and kept us guessing all the way through the game.”
The result marks India’s first defeat of the tournament but they know a win against Bangladesh on Tuesday will be enough to book a semi-final berth.
Spin is likely to play a key role between the two sub-continent teams and India will hope Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav return to their best.
The pair had 14 wickets between them before arriving in Birmingham but England’s openers Jason Roy (66) and Jonny Bairstow (111) attacked them from the off, scoring 97 runs from the first ten overs of spin as part of a tournament-best 160 stand for the first wicket.
“It's always challenging for the bowler, especially for the spinner, if you don't have any wickets down, and we know that they like to put pressure on the bowlers,” he added.
“And when Kuldeep and Chahal came to bowl, they already got off to a decent start, and they didn't allow them to settle down, which was, I think, a tactical move from their side against our two spinners.
“But it was just an off day for these two guys. We have seen them bowl in tandem really well and put pressure on the batting unit, the opposition rather.
“So it's just one off day. Like I said, the England team, they played complete cricket. They bowled really well. They batted really well. They got the result.”
(Inputs from ICC)