India introspective as ICC success eludes captain Kohli again

Cricket - ICC World Test Championship Final - India v New Zealand - Rose Bowl, Southampton, Britain - June 22, 2021 India's Virat Kohli reacts Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's defeat in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) forced the cricket-mad nation into introspection, while accepting New Zealand were worthy winners of the honour.

India's eight-wicket loss in Southampton prolonged their wait for a first global title since Mahendra Singh Dhoni led them to victory in the 2013 Champions Trophy.

It was Virat Kohli's fourth unsuccessful attempt to lead India to an ICC title, the previous being the 2019 One Day World Cup when they lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals in Manchester.

"India fail the ultimate test," the Times of India newspaper said as it questioned India's team selection and their preparation for the match.

"The lack of match practice in England hurt them but shouldn't India have played an extra batsman in Hanuma Vihari?"

The Times suggested seamer Mohammed Siraj should also have been picked in the match in which India played both their spinners in conditions that gave more assistance to swing and seam bowling.

"The answers will arrive in due course but it will rankle this proud Indian team, which has towered over the rest of the test pack for a few years now," the daily said. "No one, after all, remembers who came second."

While captain Kohli's title drought in global tournaments continued, New Zealand put behind their losses in successive 50-overs World Cup finals with their victory at the Ageas Bowl.

"Kiwis bury the ghosts of 2019, crowned first World Test champion," The Hindu newspaper said on its sports page.

The Indian Express also hailed New Zealand's victory with the headline "An island conquers the world".

"Even as India worryingly continued to trip up in knockout games, New Zealand, the team that not even the most parochial Indian fan can stir up any negative emotion for, admirably held their nerve to become world Test champions," it said.

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir summed up the sentiment when he tweeted: "Nice guys don't always finish last! Congrats NZ. World No.1!"

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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