In bilaterals, they are the team to beat. Dominant batting, performing under pressure and an overall team effort have often been Team India’s strengths in bilateral cricket. But things change drastically when the scenario arises as that of an ICC trophy match, especially a knockout. Suddenly, surprising team selections, poor batting (on most occasions) and low confidence characterize the Indian team’s performance as they never seem to get over the line. India’s ICC trophy heartbreak has continued since 2013 when the team led by MS Dhoni won the Champions Trophy in England. Since then, India have come close but never really gotten over the line. T20 World Cup 2014, Champions Trophy 2017, 2019 World Cup, T20 World Cup 2021, T20 World Cup 2022, 2021 WTC final, 2023 WTC final—India’s list of heartbreaks at ICC tournaments is big. India Fined Whole Match Fees for Slow Over-Rate in WTC 2023 Final; Shubman Gill Sanctioned for Criticising Controversial Catch to Dismiss Him on Day 4.
Ranked no 1 in Tests, India would have fancied themselves to go the distance at the start of the WTC final, but the opposite happened. After a decent start, Australia took control of proceedings from Day 1 and never really let it go. The Indian team played a catch-up game ever since conceding 300+ runs on Day 1 and although the bowling was slightly better in the second innings, it did not matter much. With a huge 444 target to chase, India were always under pressure. The top-order would rue some poor shots that they played and after Virat Kohli's dismissal on Day 5, the collapse began as India lost the match eventually by 209 runs. 'Different Events, Same Emotions' ICC Shares Picture of Virat Kohli Walking Past WTC Mace, Draws Parallel With Kane Williamson's Snap From 2019 World Cup Final.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s Non-Selection: A lot of eyebrows were raised when Ravichandran Ashwin was left out of the playing XI. The World No 1 Test bowler, who has enough experience of bowling in several different kinds of pitches, did not find a place in India's team for the match with Shardul Thakur preferred ahead of him. The decision was self-explanatory as India wanted a four-pronged pace attack for this match. But did India miss someone like Ashwin in terms of experience? In hindsight, it did. There have been several moments where he could have made an impact with both bat and ball. With Australia having a lot of left-handers, Ashwin made a strong case to be selected but that did not happen. The likes of Travis Head and Alex Carey could have found batting against Ashwin a tad more tough had he played. The decision to leave out Ashwin also baffled many former players, including Sachin Tendulkar, who 'failed to understand' the move. 'Sau Dard Hai' India's WTC 2023 Final Defeat to Australia Sparks 'Funny' Meme Fest Online As Indian Cricket Fans Try and Digest Another Heartbreak!
Batting Failure: The batting performance of the Indian team was not very different from how they performed at the Rose Bowl in Southampton two years ago in the inaugural WTC final against New Zealand. One of the biggest and most obvious reasons for India’s defeat was the lack of runs from their top order. The pair of Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma did get off to decent starts but failed to make it count. Cheteshwar Pujara would rue how he was dismissed in both innings of this match. Virat Kohli failed in the 1st innings but tried to keep India in the contest in the last innings. But his weakness of fishing at deliveries outside the off-stump cost him his wicket, which eventually started the procession for India on Day 5.
Misreading conditions: Not many would have been too unhappy when Rohit Sharma won the toss and opted to bowl first with overcast conditions at The Oval. India did manage to make the most of that, taking two wickets—that of openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner in the first session of play. But post that, the sun came out and the track became easier for batting. Adding to this, the Indian bowlers did not accurately hit the correct lines and lengths, which made things a lot easier for Australia, specifically the pair of Travis Head and Steve Smith. Head, in particular, was lethal on anything outside the off-stump and his legs. The partnership between these two actually helped set up Australia’s victory. ‘He’s Making Streak’ Kumar Dharmasena’s Selfie With Rohit Sharma Goes Viral After India’s WTC 2023 Final Loss, Fans React.
While these may be some of the reasons for India's shocking defeat at The Oval, some quite consistent patterns have been constantly seen in the Indian team's performance at ICC events. Poor team selections have been one of them. Yuzvendra Chahal, who had a great time in IPL 2021, was not even picked for the subsequent T20 World Cup in the UAE. Ravichandran Ashwin and Varun Chakaravarthy over Chahal, who is India's leading wicket-taker in the shortest format. Rewind a bit, and Ambati Rayudu, one of India's most reliable batters, was ignored from the 2019 World Cup squad. Not just this, but the ability to perform under pressure is also a problem.
In the 2019 World Cup semifinal, India had to chase 240 runs to win and fell short by just 18. Regular loss of wickets and the failure of the top order resulted in a collapse which was somewhat arrested by a 116-run stand between Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni. But after the former fell, things went south for India as they eventually messed up the chase, losing by 18 runs. Batting failure was also one of the reasons for India to lose the inaugural WTC final against New Zealand. 'Silence' Virat Kohli Shares Cryptic Message Post India's WTC 2023 Final Defeat Against Australia at the Oval (View Ig Story).
Having gone 10 years without any ICC trophy, the desperation level to get one would be too much in the Indian camp, but that needs to be translated into on-field performances, good moments of captaincy, winning the right moments and eventually coming up with a strong performance. With the ODI World Cup approaching as the next ICC event, all Indian cricket fans can do is sit and hope for the Men in Blue to do a better job this time.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 12, 2023 03:18 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).