About 20-30 more runs while batting, a bigger partnership between KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, and ideally a score of 270-280 are among the things Rohit Sharma would have liked his batting line-up to have achieved to make the World Cup final more of a contest rather than the eventual six-wicket loss to Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
India managed a modest 240 after they were put in to bat, with half-centuries from Kohli and Rahul after Rohit gave them another rollicking start. But Australia's excellent bowling with the help of variations and reverse swing on a slow pitch restricted the hosts, and their batters then chased it down with 42 balls remaining, led by a match-winning 137 from Travis Head, who was named the Player of the Match.
"Honestly, the result hasn't gone our way," Rohit said at the post-match presentation, "And we know that we were not good enough today. But I'm really proud of the team, how we played from game one. It wasn't our day, we tried everything we could from our side but it wasn't supposed to be.
"Honestly, 20-30 [runs] more would've been good. We spoke around 25-30 overs when KL and Virat were batting. I thought when they were batting they were stitching a good partnership there and then we just needed to bat as long as possible. We were looking at 270-280 at that point, but then we kept losing wickets. We couldn't stitch a big partnership there, and that's exactly what Australia did to win the game. They stitched a big partnership after that three [early] wickets."
Despite scoring quickly in the first powerplay and being 81 for 3 in the 11th over, India were slowed down considerably in the middle overs, managing just two fours in the period without any big hits. Rahul and Kohli were rebuilding with a partnership of 67 off 109 balls when Pat Cummins dismissed Kohli to start India's slide as they lost their last five wickets for just 37 runs. The total of 240 was India's second-lowest in this World Cup batting first, and came after they had amassed scores of 397, 401, 326 and 357 batting first in their last four games.
Australia got off to a jittery start in swinging conditions under lights as they lost David Warner, Mitchell Marsh and Steven Smith in the first seven overs to be 47 for 3. But conditions got much better for batting once the ball's shine faded, the ball skidded on nicely onto the bat and Head and Marnus Labuschagne avoided any further hiccups with a century stand that was dominated by Head's century.
Rohit said just one more wicket soon after the third could have opened up the game.
"When you have 240 on the board, you want to take wickets as early as possible, and we did that," he said. "But then credit to Head and Marnus, they stitched a big partnership and put us completely out of the game. But again, we tried everything we could but I thought the wicket got slightly better to bat under the lights.
"We knew under the lights it would be slightly better. I don't want to give that as an excuse, we didn't bat well enough to put enough runs on the board. And then up-front we got those three wickets and we thought another wicket there we can open up the game but again credit to those two guys in the middle for stitching that big partnership.