"I don't think we were brave enough with bat and ball..."
This was Virat Kohli's first reaction following that humiliating eight-wicket defeat against New Zealand. As a result, India are now staring at an unexpected early exit from this ongoing ICC T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
On Sunday night at the Dubai International Stadium, we witnessed one of the worst all-round performances by an Indian team in an ICC event match in recent years. Even against Pakistan last week the batting at least showed some resistance and scored 91 in the last 10 overs to give the bowlers something to bowl at.
However, in this must-win game against the Kiwis, Kohli & Co. were like a rocket without the thrust. From their body language it seemed like they were not mentally there. There was too much tentativeness in the approach.
Was it the fear of failure? Well, it certainly seemed so ever since Kane Williamson asked India to bat first.
In a crunch game like this, when as a team India were expected to be proactive and come hard on the opposition especially after losing the toss, they did exactly the opposite.
Quite inexplicably, the think-tank tried to protect Rohit Sharma from Trent Boult's new ball burst and pushed young Ishan Kishan at the top. Either there was too much of introspection of that Shaheen Shah Afridi spell or the management wanted to use the powerplay better with this move.
At times the format demands experiment and we can give India the benefit of the doubt. However, when the youngster failed in the third over, the experienced pair of Rohit and KL Rahul should have taken control of the situation and tried to steady the ship first.
In the first innings it was not easy to time the ball on that two-paced pitch. Yet, back of their minds the Indian batters were always thinking about that extra 30 odd runs which could have given the cushion to the bowlers to counter the better batting conditions in the second half, as mentioned by Jasprit Bumrah in the post-match presser.
Hence, quite a few top-order batsmen perished while trying to play the "attacking game". And despite all those attempts, India's run-rate never crossed the six runs per over mark, throughout the innings.
Perhaps, that is what happens when you overthink about an aspect, which is not under anyone's control. For India's case, it was the dew factor. It was the fear of the wet ball in the second half which forced the likes of Rohit and Kohli to go for those uncharacteristic shots against Ish Sodhi in the middle-overs, which led to their downfall.
All of a sudden India were tottering at 48 for 4 in the 11th over with all the big boys back in the hut.
Then we all witnessed an intent-less crawl from the middle-order against the likes of Sodhi and Mitchell Santner. There was a clear lack of clarity in shot selections as not a single boundary was hit for 71 balls (between the sixth and the 17th overs). Instead of going down fighting, like the Afghan batters did on the other night, the Men in Blue strategically opted for a slow and painful death.
Fans continued to wait for that slog in the final overs and hoped for a target of around 125-130 runs. Some of the journalists in the press box were even anticipating an over in which Pandya can do an Asif Ali.
But it never happened.
The innings went nowhere and apart from a brief 19-ball 26 by Ravindra Jadeja, there was no spark whatsoever as India finished with a below-par 110 for 7.
Thereafter, the rest was just a mere formality.