The World Cup final loss to Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday was of course extremely disappointing for India. And more so, after the kind of run the team had going into the decider with the pillars of their batting line-up — skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — leading from the front.
However, by no means can one loss take the sheen off the impact both Rohit (597) and Kohli (765) — the two leading run-getters in the just-concluded World Cup — have had in the showpiece, feels Sri Lankan legend and former captain Aravinda de Silva.
“To speak of Kohli first, you’ve got to understand that he’s a player who has been carrying the expectations of a billion people whenever he goes out to bat. So, what he has achieved over the years and how he fared in this World Cup has truly been extraordinary,” De Silva, who was recently inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame, told The Telegraph late on Sunday evening.
“Right through the World Cup, he looked quite relaxed and it was quite encouraging as well given the way he played in the competition. Besides, when he was going through that rough patch, it was just a matter of time for him to get himself out of the rut.
“He’s too good a player to keep failing. A great cricketer will always find a way,” De Silva, man of the match in the semi-final and final in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph, emphasised.
As for Rohit, the fliers he took India off to in most of the games played a critical role in their march to the final, De Silva acknowledged. The 58-year-old was also effusive
in his praise for Rohit’s captaincy which, barring some stages of the decider at the Motera, had a fair amount of precision in it.
“Obviously, the way Rohit batted in the initial stages set the game up for his team. Captaincy-wise too, he has handled the side very well, leading from the front and being an example for others.
“Obviously, India were the most balanced side in the tournament with all the players turning up and doing their job. But credit to Rohit for handling his bowlers so well,” De Silva, who played 93 Tests and 308 ODIs, said.
Does De Silva see both Rohit and Kohli in the next edition of the ODI World Cup, in 2027? “It’s difficult to say that now as it’s too early. But alongside fitness, it also depends on how motivated they will be as that makes a difference.”
De Silva, who also bowled a bit of off-spin, was the first — and still the only — player to take three scalps and score a century in a men’s World Cup final (1996).