For now, it stings, just gut-wrenching: South Africa captain Markram on World Cup final heartbreak

Despite the disappointment and heartbreak, Markram did not forget to applaud India's brilliance and composure in the final.
South Africa's captain Aiden Markram walks from the field following his team's nine wicket win over Afghanistan in their men's T20 World Cup semifinal cricket match
South Africa's captain Aiden Markram walks from the field following his team's nine wicket win over Afghanistan in their men's T20 World Cup semifinal cricket match (Photo | AP)

BRIDGETOWN: A devastated South African skipper, Aiden Markram, is hopeful that at some point he will be able to see the good in his team's T20 World Cup campaign, but for now, all he feels is a "sting," which he hopes will ensure a "fire in the belly for next time."

South Africa needed 30 off 30 balls in a chase of 176 against India but fell short by seven runs despite Heinrich Klaasen's awe-inspiring 27-ball 52 in the see-saw summit clash on Saturday.

India had Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya's death bowling and a blinder of a catch by Suryakumar Yadav to thank for the close win after Virat Kohli set up the match for them with a brilliant 76-run knock.

"It's not the first game of cricket that's been lost with a team needing 30 off 30, it's more that India was allowed to bowl well, they're allowed to field well, they're allowed to go from that position to a position of strength," the 29-year-old Markram said in the post-match press conference.

"Right now, to pinpoint something is quite tough, but we'll reflect over the next few days, over the next few weeks, try and find areas that we could have maybe improved in during today's game, but also to highlight the things that went really well for us," he added.

South Africa's captain Aiden Markram walks from the field following his team's nine wicket win over Afghanistan in their men's T20 World Cup semifinal cricket match
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The pain aside, Markram is proud of his teammates, who managed to get rid of the chokers' tag to an extent by making their first World Cup final.

"I think one thing that I will definitely say is how proud we are. Not just today, the game itself, but the competition as a whole, the build-up to get here. So, in hindsight, things will still feel really good about this competition. But like I mentioned, just for the time being, it stings a bit, but it's good for it to sting. It gives you that little bit of fire in the belly for next time that you're here," he said.

Markram admitted that Klaasen will find it tough to make peace with the result after such a "special effort."

"We've seen him do it many, many times around the world and to deliver it on a stage like this is a really special effort. So, it's going to be tough for him, that's what I say when I mean we reflect back. There's going to be lots of things to be happy about," he said.

While the Indian players had happy tears in their eyes, the Proteas broke down in the realisation that another major title had slipped through their hands, only this time at the final hurdle.

South Africa's captain Aiden Markram walks from the field following his team's nine wicket win over Afghanistan in their men's T20 World Cup semifinal cricket match
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"It's just gut-wrenching, that's really what it is. Each player has been on a different individual journey to get to this first final. Ultimately you become really tight as a group and you want good things to happen to this group because you know they're great people," he said.

"When you get really close like that, especially the nature of how the game went, obviously adds to the emotions and it's one of those things. But yeah, we can channel it moving forward, but I think for the next couple of days you let it be. You let yourself feel the way you want to feel and then really start reflecting in a positive manner."

Despite the disappointment and heartbreak, Markram did not forget to applaud India's brilliance and composure in the final.

"It's tournament cricket, it's tough cricket, it's not easy to win trophies and you've got to take your hats off to a team like India for lifting the trophy. A lot of hard work goes into it,” he said.

"But yeah, we'd like to think we're one step closer and hopefully moving forward we can get that first win and it can be a snowball effect of quite a few to come," he added.

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