India cruise against Namibia provides subdued send off for Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri

Captain and coach end their tenures with easy win in final T20 World Cup group match

Given all that Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri have achieved during their captain-coach alliance for India, this hardly represented a fitting end.

Yes, their side dominated. But well they should have done, given it was the world’s largest cricket-loving nation playing against one which has just five cricket fields.

The routine nine-wicket win over Namibia at a largely subdued Dubai International Stadium was the last match of Kohli’s reign as T20 captain, and Shastri’s last as coach.

While Pakistan, New Zealand, England and Australia vie for the T20 World Cup trophy this week, India’s players will be heading home.

It was not the result they wanted, but could be the respite they need. India’s leading players have been on tour, living under managed conditions, since before the Test World Championship in the UK in June.

This World Cup started just two days after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League. After six months of that, no wonder this has been a tournament too far for them.

“I’m mentally drained, but I expect that at my age. These guys are physically and mentally drained,” Shastri said, ahead of his final assignment before handing over to Rahul Dravid.

“It has been six months in a bubble. What we would have ideally liked would have been a longer gap between the IPL and the World Cup.

“It is a matter of when the big games come and the pressure hits you. You are not as switched on as you should be.

“This is not an excuse. We take defeat because we are not scared of losing. In trying to win, you will lose a game. Here, we didn’t try to win because that X-factor was missing.”

Despite finishing on a low ebb, Shastri reckons he has overseen “one of the greatest teams in the history of the game” during his four years in charge.

“When I took this job, I said in my mind that I want to make a difference. And I think I have,” Shastri said.

“Sometimes in life, it's not about all you accomplish, it's what you overcome.

“And what these guys have overcome in the last five years, the way they've performed in every corner of the globe in all formats - irrespective of what has happened here - will make this one of the greatest teams in the history of the game. I've no doubt about that.”

Kohli did not even make it to the wicket in his last game as India’s T20 leader. His side were cruising to the win, and when the first wicket did fall in their chase, he sent Suryakumar Yadav in ahead of himself, anyway.

Namibia’s batters had few answers to the battery of India spinners. Ravindra Jadeja took three for 16 and Ravichandran Ashwin three for 20, as Namibia eked out 132 for eight from their 20 overs.

Rohit Sharma led the reply with a rapid 56 from 37 balls, having been dropped in the first over sent down by Ruben Trumpelmann.

KL Rahul struck the winning runs and ended not out on 54 as victory was sealed with 28 balls to spare.

“It’s been an honour to have the opportunity and I have tried to do my best,” Kohli said.

“It is time for me to create some space and prioritise things moving forward. Unfortunately, the shortest format of the game has to give way to the longer formats.

“I have been immensely proud of how the team has played, and also grateful for the opportunity to have led the Indian cricket team in the T20 format for so many years.

“Now it is time for the next lot to take this team forward. Obviously, Rohit [Sharma] has been overlooking things for a while now, and we will always be the leaders in the group.

“It is a milestone moment for Indian cricket moving forward.”

Updated: November 8th 2021, 5:30 PM
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