India captain Virat Kohli was surprised at the playing conditions which were on offer during their World Cup clash against England at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.
On Sunday, the Men in Blue suffered their first loss in the ongoing tournament as they failed to chase down a mammoth target of 338 and could manage 306/5 in their 50 overs, falling short by 31 runs.
In what was a must-win game for England, a belter of a track was presented with one side of the boundary measuring only 59 metres. It was just in line with ICC's permissible limit of 59.43 metres.
The English batsmen, especially Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy, made full use of the shorter boundaries and took the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, to the cleaners.
"The toss was vital, especially looking at the boundaries that are so short. And it's a coincidence that it just falls under the limitations of the shortest boundary you can have in the tournament. Quite bizarre on a flat pitch, it's the first time we are experiencing this. It's crazy that things fall in place like that randomly," Kohli said after the match.
"If batsmen are able to reverse sweep, sweep you for a six on a 59-meter boundary you can't do much as a spinner. They had to be more smart with their lines as it was difficult to contain runs with one short boundary," he added.
During the chase, India batted very slowly in the first 10 overs as they managed only 28 runs for the loss of K.L. Rahul's wicket in the first powerplay. However, Rohit Sharma and Kohli stitched together a 138-run partnership for the second wicket. Later on, both the batsmen picked their respective scoring rates and coupled with handy cameos by Rishabh Pant (29-ball 32) and Hardik Pandya (33-ball 45), the Men in Blue managed to reduce the requirements to 104 off the last 10 overs.
However, after Pandya fell in the 45th over, the visitors failed to press the accelerator. And M.S. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, the two batsmen at the crease, couldn't manage to up the ante and scored just 39 runs of the last five overs. Their slow scoring was criticised by many, including former skipper Sourav Ganguly who seemed to be completely baffled by the batting approach of the two Indian batsmen, especially Dhoni.
Speaking about the Indian batting in the death overs, Kohli said, "It's up to the discussions with the two guys who were in there. I think MS was trying really hard to get the boundary but it wasn't coming off. They bowled in good areas and the ball was stopping, hence it was difficult to bat towards the end. We have to sit and assess and improve on things in the next game."
With 11 points from seven games, India are currently placed at the second spot. They need to win one of their remaining two matches to confirm their berth in the semifinals.