Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar believes India's was a great fightback, courtesy M.S. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja despite their top-order collapse as the Men in Blue fell just short of crossing the line against New Zealand in the first semi-final of the ongoing World Cup.
On Wednesday, India lost to New Zealand by 18 runs at the Old Trafford to bow out of the competition.
Chasing 240, Indian batters were undone by Matt Henry's brilliant opening spell as he returned figures of 3/37. Jadeja (77) and Dhoni (50) shared a 116-run stand for the seventh wicket. However, in the end that proved to be not enough, especially after Dhoni was caught short of crease by a brilliant direct hit by Martin Guptill.
"So close, yet so far for India. It was a brilliant fightback from the lower order after the top-order batsmen gave away their wickets on ordinary deliveries," Akhtar said in a video posted on his Youtube channel.
"It was a poor batting performance by the top five players. Rohit (Sharma) got a brilliant ball. However, I think Virat Kohli was unlucky as it was a poor decision to give him out. The ball was just clipping the bails and he was given out by the on-field umpire.
"The other batsmen also did not show much intent until Jadeja came in and played superbly. And so was Dhoni who kept India in the hunt."
"It was unfortunate that Jadeja got out to a ball that he could have hit for a six. And had Dhoni dived, who knows, he wouldn't have got run-out and would have taken India across the finishing line," he added.
He also termed 37-year-old Dhoni as legend. "Dhoni is an absolute legend. He is a great ambassador for the game. Till the time he was there, it looked like he would win the game for India. However, he was unfortunate and couldn't take India to the finals."
"Indian fans should be proud of the way their team played in the World Cup," he added.
New Zealand will now play either Australia or England in the finals to be played on Sunday at Lord's.