Mohali: Australia captain Steven Smith said his team was in a winning position before an unbelievable innings from Virat Kohli took the game away from them in their must-win ICC World T20 match in Mohali.
"It was a pretty serious innings on wicket which was tough to bat on. I thought we were in a good position with India needing two runs a ball at one stage. It just took an unbelievable innings under pressure by Virat Kohli to get his team over the line. It looked whatever Virat did at that point would go to the boundary. It was a serious innings. Hats off," said Smith after the six-wicket loss to India in the virtual quarterfinal at the I S Bindra Stadium last night.
Kohli keeps on winning games after games for India and it was no surprise that Smith was asked to compare the star player with Sachin Tendulkar.
"I think they are two different players. Virat is an extremely talented, very good player. He has been for a long time. You have to see it how he played today. He times his chase to perfection. He averages more than 60 while chasing, which is quite remarkable. I think he is a perfect example of that you can succeed by playing orthodox strokes in this format. He has got incredible wrists which is a great skill in this format. Hats off to him," the Australian captain said. Understandably Smith was disappointed for his team as well as Shane Watson, who played his last international match yesterday.
"It is always difficult. You got to keep your head up. You always face these situations. It is a game. You have to learn from it. I thought we had the team win (the title). We let ourselves down against New Zealand. We should have won that game and after that we had to win every game. It is quite hard to do that in T20 cricket," he said.
"Our preparation was fine. We played three T20s in South Africa, where they tried to replicate the Indian conditions. Then it was a warm up against the West Indies. So preparation was fine, just the execution let us down."
Asked about Watson, Smith said: "It was a pretty good last game for him. It shows there are no fairytales. But Shane gave his all in the game, like every game for Australia. He bowled beautifully and he looked like 25 while taking that catch of Yuvraj."
Smith was caught behind on the first ball Yuvraj bowled in the tournament but the Australian skipper felt he didn't hit the ball.
"I didn't feel like I hit that. But it is a game of cricket and that was it. I have moved on. It is a bit disappointing. It was the Virat show that took over. To get an 80 plus on a wicket like that was quite remarkable," he said.
Australia scored 160 after a blazing start and Smith thought it was a par score.
"We probably let ourselves down in the middle overs. That is one area where we have not done well in these conditions consistently. We could have got 10-15 runs more. The players will learn a lot from these conditions. Hopefully we continue to learn and get better."
Asked to pick a reason why Australia are yet to win the World T20 title, Smith said: "I am not sure about that. International cricket pose different challenges. We have not done as well as would have liked to in T20s. Hopefully we will get better with this experience."