ADELAIDE (Reuters) - As India lick their wounds after the 10-wicket shellacking by England in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup on Thursday, the inaugural champions would be thoroughly justified in thinking their misfiring opening pair have let them down.
Rohit Sharma's men beat arch-rivals Pakistan in their opener and breezed into the last four as Group 2 winners before Jos Buttler's England dismantled them in a ruthless manner at the Adelaide Oval.
The opening pair of Rohit and KL Rahul once again failed to give India a strong start, falling for five and 27 respectively.
Half-centuries by Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya helped India to a modest 168-6 but the target was chased down with ridiculous ease after an England record unbeaten 170-run opening stand between Buttler and Alex Hales.
"You need strong starts in T20 cricket," India head coach Rahul Dravid said after the deflating loss.
"If you lose the first six overs, both with the bat and ball, it becomes really difficult."
It has been a poor tournament for Rohit whose only fifty came against the Netherlands.
Rahul struck half-centuries against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, which did little to convince critics that he is a big match player.
They often failed to make the powerplays count and the sluggish starts pushed India onto the back foot early, leaving the onus on Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav to help post defendable totals.
If well begun is half done, England won the semi-final in the powerplay itself.
While India managed 38-1 in the first six overs, England milked 63 for no loss and never took their foot off the pedal.
"Once they got off to that kind of start, they could really sit back and control the run rate," Dravid said almost wishfully.
"On a small ground like that, they were always in control.
"They didn't really need to take too many risks. They could sit back, not that they did. They played some very good shots right through."
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ken Ferris)