Magnanimity in victory and grace in defeat are essential qualities for a sportsperson. The Indian team and Virat Kohli haven't lacked either usually. But after this team suffered a loss in the semi-final of 2019 World Cup, among the fans and in the media, there have been unnecessary discussions about the format of the tournament.
People have questioned why a team like India, which finished atop the points table and lost just one game in the league stage, is out of the tournament just because of having one bad day, and New Zealand into the final despite suffering three losses in a row at the back end of their league journey.
This argument is incredibly stupid as tournaments like World Cup, across sporting disciplines, tend to have a knock-out format in their latter stages. Whether its football, handball or hockey, no major sports decides its world champion through a league format. So, what's the big deal about India getting knocked out after losing the semi-final?
Then, there is the argument that World Cup should have an IPL-style format where instead of semis, there should be play-offs. Now, have you ever heard anyone suggesting that a similar format be used in football World Cups? Most probably, no.
It just seems that Indians are unwilling to come to terms with the idea that there team has been knocked out. The argument that this format made India's achievement of finishing atop points table irrelevant is equally flawed. It is because of being at no. 1 in points table that India got to play the weakest among the four semi-finalists – New Zealand.
Just recall the exuberance among Indian supporters when Australia lost to South Africa and ensured that Men in Blue won't be facing either England – the only team that defeated them in the league stage – or Australia – the second most formidable-looking side in the tournament. If the Kiwis proved too tough to beat for India, then it's not the fault of the format that they are out of the tournament.
Also, knockout matches have their own unique atmosphere and dynamics. Rising to the occasion in a semi-final or final is something that turns cricketers into legend. In fact, it is in these matches that the temperament and character of players is tested to the hilt. If a team manages to win all its matches in the preliminary stage but falls apart when it matters the most, why should that team not suffer.
In short, India's defeat and New Zealand's win were fair and square. It's time to congratulate the Kiwis for rising from the ashes and delivering on the big stage. Indian fans should rue things like a batting line-up overly reliant on Kohli and Rohit Sharma and a middle-order that isn't able to deal with good spinners. These are the reasons that India is out of the event and not the format.