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India and their knockout hoodoo in ICC tournaments 

  • Since 2014, India have failed to cross the hurdle in ICC knockout fixtures as many as 10 times - six finals, four semi-finals.
Sahil Jain
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 09 Mar 2020, 16:55 IST

The Indian women
The Indian women's team

Top / dominate group stages and sail through. Knockouts. And heartbreak. Rinse and repeat.

That has become a trend in Indian cricket over the last few years. Be it the men’s team, women’s team or even the Under-19 side, India bottling in the knockout stages of ICC tournaments has become an infectious pattern.

The knockout hoodoo has well and truly got to them, and in fact they are being called the new ‘chokers’. Since the 2013 Champions Trophy win, India have not won a single ICC event.

2014 World T20 final, 2015 Men’s World Cup semi-final, 2016 Under-19 final, 2016 World T20 semi-final, 2017 Champions Trophy, 2017 Women’s World Cup final, 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final, 2019 Men’s World Cup semi-final, 2020 Under-19 World Cup final and now, 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup final: each one of them has been nothing short of a heartbreak.

10 times India have failed to cross the hurdle in ICC knockout fixtures. Since 2014, the only triumph came in the 2018 Under-19 World Cup when the Prithvi Shaw-led side lifted the title for a record fourth time.

India reaching the semis or even the finals at times is almost a given, but crossing those final hurdles has become a big problem.

In the group or league stages of the same tournament, you’ll find India breezing past most opponents. Even against the toughest of opponents, they find a way to win. But there’s something that happens to them on the big day.

The ‘Men/Women in Blue’ simply crumble, letting the pressure get to them, and that’s been evident ever since the start of the year 2014.

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Also see – MI 2020 team

As they say, you need to treat the big game or the knockout game as just another one. Yes, it’s tough to do that and there will always be nerves, but you need to push that into the background.

The 2020 edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup is the latest addition to the list. It’s the third time that the women’s side has faltered in the big game.

First, it was the Women’s World Cup final in 2017 where they crumbled from a winning position. They were in a strong position but the nerves of the big final just got to them and they fell agonisingly short of England’s total of 228.

Another batting collapse took place in the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final. And it happened again against Australia this time, as they let the nerves get the better of them in a chase of 184.

The dejected looks on the faces of the players say it all
The dejected looks on the faces of the players say it all

This is particularly surprising given the way India have been dominating world cricket for a while now. They have a great record in bilateral series and tournaments, but they somehow find a way to succumb under pressure on the big day.

It’s not that they’ve been outplayed every single time. Yes, you could say that in the 2015 Men’s World Cup, 2017 Champions Trophy or even this 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup, they were clearly second best. But even in these matches, there were moments when India failed to control the controllables.

For instance, that Jasprit Bumrah no-ball or the two dropped catches in the 2020 final against Australia immediately come to mind. Those were big mistakes, and they ended up coming back to haunt the team.

ICC World Twenty20 India 2016: Semi-Final: West Indies v India
ICC World Twenty20 India 2016: Semi-Final: West Indies v India

If you were asked to name one team that has been the most dominant in world cricket since 2010, you would answer India without any hesitation. Even the women’s team has raised its level, and has been getting better at winning rubbers consistently over the last few years.

The only black mark has been the inability to win ICC tournaments.

Yes, they’ve won three in a decade (2011 World Cup, 2013 Champions Trophy and 2018 Under-19 World Cup). But they threatened to win a lot more and probably should have won a lot more, given their quality and the way they played in the lead-up to the final stages.

There’s certainly a psychological issue with the Indian teams and ICC knockouts. They simply need to get over this. They are too good to be missing out on ICC trophies and faltering in the semi-finals and finals of every tournament. There’s been enough of ‘better luck next time, they deserved to win but one bad game ruined it’.

For how long will this hoodoo last? The next stop is the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup later this year. Can the Virat Kohli-led side finally end the jinx? Can they finally end the ICC trophy-drought? Only time will tell.


Published 08 Mar 2020, 17:57 IST
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