Asia Cup 2014: Virat Kohli Praises Mishra and India's Fighting Spirit After Narrow Loss to Pakistan

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By Deepak Vikraman | March 3, 2014 4:08 PM EST

Bhuvneshwar Kumar reacts during the Asia Cup 2014 match between India and Pakistan, 2 March. Reuters
Bhuvneshwar Kumar reacts during the Asia Cup 2014 match between India and Pakistan, 2 March. Reuters

Hindsight can be a beautiful thing. Had India given Amit Mishra a real go a little earlier in the tournament, then their chances of making the final of the Asia Cup 2014 would perhaps not be virtually nonexistent.

Mishra was brilliant for India against Pakistan, flighting the ball, turning it and making the batsmen play to areas they'd much rather not. His final figures of 10-0-28-2 was a testament to his control and guile, not something easy to do after sitting on the bench for seemingly eternity.

"The way he bowled with such a small target to defend I think it was brilliant on his part," India skipper Virat Kohli said. "The amount of character he showed, he certainly put his hand up.

"In the future as well, if we want to play with three spinners or we want to go with the same kind of bowling attack, he would certainly be one of our priorities. He's brilliant with the ball, turns it on any sort of wicket and today he showed what he could do. I'm really, really happy for him."

So, should Mishra have been given an opportunity much earlier? "Well that's one thing you can say now," Kohli said. "If he went for 70 in 10 I don't think you would have asked me that question. But I've always been really impressed by Amit Mishra. He's an attacking bowler, which I like as well. He always likes to make the batsman take on that extra fielder inside the circle."

The India bowlers did pretty well to take the game to the last over, before Shahid Afridi's brilliance came to the fore. Kohli said he was proud of how his team showed fight.

"We almost pulled it off as well in the end," Kohli added. "Those last two sixes were not quite off the middle of the bat. One side was a small boundary, but that's how it goes.

"We almost pulled it off and I'm really proud of the way the team showed character in the field and with the bowling as well - 245 against a team like Pakistan and on that wicket with the dew is not easy to defend, but I think the guys showed a lot of character.

"If you compare the experience of our team with their team, it's massive, it's huge. And in international cricket it really counts a lot. You can get away with it in Twenty20, but in the 50-over format you need to show a lot of character and that's exactly what the boys did."

But at the end of the day, Pakistan were the better team, with the bowlers restricting India to a relatively small total of 245 - India's inexperienced middle order again failing to stand up to the test.

India also dropped a couple of chances in the field, with Dinesh Karthik, who missed a crucial stumping of Kumar Sangakkara in the previous match which turned the game in Sri Lanka's favour, again missing an opportunity to send Sohaib Maqsood back to the pavilion early, which would have ended the Pakistan batsman's partnership with Mohammed Hafeez a little prematurely.

"We are making mistakes regularly, which we need to correct because they are costing us in international cricket," Kohli said. "If we make three or four crucial errors in each game, it's quite costly in the end.

"That is one thing we have to learn from and improve on because there's quite a bit of inexperience in batting and bowling. People learn from mistakes and I hope in the coming games we don't repeat these mistakes and play more smartly at crucial times."

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar reacts during the Asia Cup 2014 match between India and Pakistan, 2 March. Reuters
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