ICC World Cup: Former greats attribute India's loss to missed opportunities

Sydney: Attributing India's ouster from the World Cup to crucial missed opportunities, former cricketers today said the team needed a big knock from a top-order batsman to have a shot at overhauling the mammoth Australian total.

Set a steep target of 329, the defending champions lost by 95 runs to the Aussies in the semifinal here to crash out of the World Cup.

Australia's paceman Mitchell Johnson (left) celebrates after clean bowling India's Rohit Sharma (R) during the World Cup semi-final at Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. Pic/AFP

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's run-a-ball 65 was the best by an Indian batsman in a botched up chase as Australia set up a summit showdown with co-hosts and trans-Tasmanian rivals New Zealand in Melbourne on Sunday.

"I think the best two teams have reached the final. They have the best two captains on display at the World Cup and they are the most balanced for these conditions," said former India skipper Rahul Dravid.

Another former captain Sourav Ganguly said that India lost to a much better team and once they let the co-hosts score 328, the dice was heavily loaded against Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men.

"India were outplayed by a much better team. First it was a good toss to win for Australian captain Michael Clarke. Second, it is the pressure of the target of 329, the pressure of chasing a big total that did India in. Had India batted first and put up 329, Australia would also have been under pressure.

"Third, Australia had a better bowling attack. Once you (India) let Australia score 328 then it was a difficult proposition for India," he added. Australian spin legend Shane Warne said the Indians let it slip when they failed to capitalise on the good start that openers Rohit Sharma (35) and Shikhar Dhawan (45) provided.

"Both Rohit and Shikhar got off to a flier and gave India a real chance. Ultimately, you need the top three-four to get a big hundred to have a chance in such a huge chase," Warne said. Warne, however, credited the Australian bowlers for exerting relentless pressure on the Indians. The iconic tweaker also felt star batsman Virat Kohli's early dismissal pegged India back.

"Australia bowled outstandingly. Besides, Virat Kohli got out early and when he gets out cheaply, India struggles," Warne pointed out.

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