India's top-order suffered a mighty collapse upfront as New Zealand snuck through the table-toppers to achieve an 18-run victory in a low-scoring thriller on the reserve day at Old Trafford.
India's chase began in the worst possible manner as the pace bowling duo of Matt Henry and Trent Boult removed India's star trio - Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul - for a solitary run each.
From being reduced to 5-3 and later 92-6, India were finally able to resuscitate their hopes of emerging triumphant after a valiant effort from Ravindra Jadeja brought them quite close to New Zealand's total of 239 before falling short by a narrow margin.
A glum Kohli examined his side's shock defeat with deep regret as he rued not being able to cope with the Black Caps' pace challenge.
"We've played outstanding cricket throughout this tournament. To just go out on the basis of 45 minutes of bad cricket is saddening," Kohli said in the aftermath of his team's World Cup exit.
"It breaks your heart also, because you worked so hard throughout the tournament to build momentum, you finish number one in the table, and then a spell of bad cricket and you're out of the tournament.
"New Zealand deserves a lot of credit because they really put up a great display of how to bowl with the new ball. They hit perfect line and length and forced us to make errors."
Kohli praised his bowlers for wresting control from New Zealand early during their innings as India restricted the Black Caps to a modest 239-8 at the conclusion of their 50 overs.
"We got what we needed to get in the field this morning and we thought we had restricted them to a total that is chaseable on any surface. But the way they bowled in that first half an hour was the difference in the game," he said.
Kohli emphasized India were unaffected by the persistent rain which forced the match to be carried over to the reserve day.
"It was fine having to come back today. We had a good day yesterday and I'm very proud of that effort. Then it was a professional effort with the ball this morning and we had the momentum.
"But credit to the New Zealand bowlers, the way they bowled with the new ball, moving it around, it was an outstanding skill level on display and they made life very difficult for our batsmen."
Henry proved to be India's tormentor as he was rewarded for his blazing spell of 3-37 with the player of the match prize.
'We are sad but we are not devastated because we know the kind of game we have played in this tournament' says @imVkohli in a post-match conference after their defeat against New Zealand.— Cricingif (@_cricingif) July 11, 2019
Learn more ?? https://t.co/azkt4TAPky#INDvNZ #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/ic0urtJJPA
Boult also played a key role in ensuring New Zealand completed a dramatic win by trapping Kohli lbw for a single digit contribution before getting the important scalp of Jadeja towards the end of the game.
For a brief period, India looked on course for a come from behind victory when Jadeja and MS Dhoni forged a crucial 116-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Kohli insisted India were still a top-drawer team despite not being able to progress into the final at Lord's, given their consistent run during the group stage.
"We are sad but not devastated. Because the kind of cricket we played in this tournament, we know where we stood as a team," Kohli added.
"Today we were not good enough. That's the nature of the tournament, one bad day at this stage and you are out of this tournament."