The Disappointment of India’s Cricket

Unveiling the Disappointment: India’s Cricket Struggles

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Exciting comeback, shocking results, broken records and shattered dreams, it was that heartbreaking. The 2023 edition of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup truly had it all. But what stands out the most is that one of the greatest teams in the history of cricket that did not end up winning the tournament. That’s right, folks. Today, we’ll be talking about how and why Team India failed to perform on the biggest stage of cricket. This is the story of the disappointing fate of India’s super team. With Virat Kohli in the front line, Rohit Sharma showing promising signs as a captain with excellent team management and field setting, and Rahul Dravid proving himself as a tactical genius, it was all upon the shoulders of the players to deliver when it matters.

But before we talk about this year’s campaign, we need to roll back and understand how India became the cricketing superpower that they are today. The all-conquering Indian cricket team that we know is very different from the one that debuted in the World Cup. In fact, in the first two editions of the tournament, the only highlights were the horrible performance of their players. Be it Sunil Gavaskar’s embarrassing 36 off 174 balls in 1975, or the fact that the team did not score 200 in a single match in 1979. However, one tournament changed everything. We’re talking about India’s legendary 1983 victory. Prior to this tournament, no one believed in the team, and they had valid reasons, given the team’s poor track record. The brilliance of India’s amazing all-rounders Kapil Dev, Rajavini and Ravi Shastri forced him to do just that.

This victory fueled changes outside the field as well. India’s fan base grew exponentially and Kapil Dev developed into a national hero. In the 1987 World Cup hosted by India and Pakistan, India crossed the group stage with ease, winning five out of six matches and finishing first with a promising start in the tournament. Unfortunately, their dream run ended in the semi-final with a disappointing loss against England. Fast forward three years, winning the 1990 Asia Cup, India hoped to work wonders in the 1992 World Cup as the world witnessed the debut of arguably the greatest batsman of all time, Sachin Tendulkar. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as expected as India exited the World Cup only in the group stages and saw bitter rivals Pakistan lift the trophy.

India hosted the World Cup again in 1996 and they crossed the group stage with relative ease. There was a lot of good that came off of that tournament with 23-year-old Sachin scoring over 500 runs and Anil Kumbul impressing the world with his 15 wickets. However, this tournament haunts Indian cricket fans and lives in infamy for one reason, the semi-final against eventual champions Sri Lanka. There was nothing embarrassing about the loss. In fact, restricting a world-class side with Sri Lanka to 251 runs was impressive, to say the least. The batting left a lot to be desired, though. and this is what set off one of the most violent crowd reactions in cricket history. Seeing a score of 120 for 8, the fans rioted, setting fires and throwing stones and bottles at the players.

Match referee Clive Lloyd had to award the match to Sri Lanka at this stage as play simply could not continue under these conditions. The 1999 World Cup was also a bad campaign for the men in blue. They reached the Super Six, but they only won one match and finished dead last in the table at this stage. On the bright side, this is where the legendary batting trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Saurav Ganguly was formed. After winning the coveted champion’s trophy in 2002, India was geared up and ready to shine in the 2003 world, and they did shine by reaching the finals under the captaincy of Saurav Ganguly. This campaign saw India improve their squad in all areas, with batsman Varenda Sewag.

bowler Zaheer Khan, and all-rounder Yourav Singh. All this talent wasn’t enough to stand up to the mighty Australia, who won their second World Cup on the bounce with a dominant display in the final. 2007’s campaign was their worst in years, with the team not even reaching Super 8. There was a national uproar with riots and public outrage. The team, however, did quickly earn back their nation’s support by winning the T20 World Cup later that year. With the 2010 Asia Cup in the bag, India looked to make it three trophies in a row by winning the 2011 World Cup. And after 27 long years, India was the world champion again. Led to success by MS Dhoni, this team saw the introduction of modern-day greats Ravi Chandran Ashwin and of course, King Virat Kohli.
India had a sensational run, no doubt thanks to all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, whose 362 runs and 15 wickets earned him the Player of the Tournament award. What’s more impressive than his stats is the fact that he was battling cancer at the time. They followed this massive victory up with another major trophy in the 2013 Champions Trophy led by MS Dhoni. Things could not be better for Team India. Perhaps we spoke too soon. You see, after bringing home the 2013 Champions Trophy, India would not win a single World Cup or Champions Trophy.

The only trophy they’ve won since then is the Asia Cup, and they’ve done so a record eight times. What’s painful for India fans is that the team has all the qualities to win every single tournament they play.
This is proven by the fact that India almost always regularly features as the number one ranked team in all formats. To add fuel to the fire, they came so very close in every single tournament they’ve played thus far. How close? Let’s start where we left off. In the 2015 World Cup, they were undefeated in the group stages with the debuts of battling talents Rohit Sharma, and Shakar Dhawan and bowling maestros Jadeja and Mohammad Shami. They were knocked out in the semis by hosts and eventually champions Australia. MS Dhoni, having cemented his legacy as a captain, now handed the reins over to Kohli, who faced his first challenge in the 2017 Champions Trophy. India performed admirably in this tournament, losing in the finals to none other than Pakistan.

This devastating loss saw India desperate to win the 2019 edition of the World Cup, and to their dismay, this too was left unaccomplished. India topped the group but was beaten in the semis by New Zealand. This campaign saw Rohit Sharma shatter the record for the most centuries in a single World Cup, getting an unbelievable total of five centuries to his name. The scene in 2-20 for India fans was also quite bleak. 2014 saw them reach the finals and lose out to an experienced Sri Lankan team. Despite hosting in 2016, they lost to eventual champions West Indies in the semis. Their 2021 campaign was by far their worst, not even making it past the Super 12. 2022 was far better, but they still couldn’t defeat the winner England in the semis.

Fans had to suffer heartbreak through all three formats as the Test World Cup brought them even more sadness. They lost two finals back-to-back in 2021, and 2023 to their rivals down under. New Zealand and Australia respectively. With so much talent in the squad, consistent performances and no trophies to show for it, one thing was clear, the players were not entirely to blame. In an attempt to solve this, their first mission was the hunt for the perfect coach. After Gary Kirsten left the team for his native South Africa, India hired Duncan Fletcher. His performance in the 2013 Champions Trophy really wowed the fans and the board, his failure to achieve a result in the 2015 World Cup caused equal disappointment. His journey with the Indian team ended in 2015 as he was not offered a contract renewal.

From that point on, the role of head coach rotated between four former players with Sanjay Bangar as interim for a brief period and legends Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble, and Rahul Dravid all taking up permanent positions. Eventually, the board decided to trust Rahul Dravid to usher in a new era of glory for the nation. It would be poetic justice as he was never able to win the World Cup as a player or captain despite performing excellently. The team still struggled after the appointment of a trusted coach and now questions began to arise around the dressing room. Specifically, is Virat Kohli a good captain? The board clearly didn’t think so and his IPL captaincy record with Royal Challengers Bangalore wasn’t doing him any favors.

Slowly but surely, the board selected his much more successful fellow IPL captain, Rohit Sharma, place him as ODI and T20 captain. Kohli eventually stepped down as test captain too, making Rohit Sharma captain in all three formats. There were rumors about this causing a major dispute between the two legendary batsmen and that Ravi Shastri actually had to step in to cool the rift. It seemed that the weight of captaincy was clearly impacting his game. As soon as Kohli left captaincy, His slump in form was over. Kohli was back to his best after a year-long period of inconsistency. This was expected. All greats suffer periods of poor form, and only the best overcome them. They formed a super team that includes arguably the greatest batsmen playing at the moment. Virat Kohli, alongside a strategic mastermind who also bats like his life is on the line, Rohit Sharma.

Rahul Dravid, the coach who can identify the tiniest flaws that they need fixing. and the most feared bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami. There was no doubt that India was surely the favorite of the 2023 World Cup in their home ground. Proven talents like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and KL Rahul can be relied upon to get the team plenty of runs. In the middle order, they have Suryakumar Yadav whose explosive style has made him a household name in the IPL. In case they fail, veterans Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah can keep the opposition at bay with fine bowling. All-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja can cover up lacking on either side. But what truly makes this a super team is the mixture of experience and youth.

Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan are set to form a formidable batting duo, while Mohamed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav are at the peak of their careers, making India a nightmare for opposition batsmen. Dravid left out big names like Shikhar Dhawan, Sanju Samson, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Washington Sundar, questioning the squad’s perfection. Rotations continued until the last ODI series before the World Cup, drawing criticism but possibly contributing to creating a super team. With a passionate coach and home ground advantage, 2023 seemed to be India’s year for World Cup victory.

Was it finally time for Rahul Dravid to end his curse in World Cups? Would India finally find success in the world after MS Dhoni? Would the hopes and prayers of 1.4 billion Indians finally get answered? The 2023 World Cup started off with a bang with a convincing victory against world beaters Australia. They would go on to win all of their remaining fixtures with little to no competition, even breaking the record for largest margin victory by beating Sri Lanka by a whopping 302 runs. In sharp contrast, the winners Australia lost both of their first two games. If India had won the tournament, they would have been only the fourth team to go the entire campaign undefeated. The other teams achieving this feat include Australia, Sri Lanka, and West Indies.. It wasn’t just the team collectively that was performing.

India showed glimpses of individual brilliance consistently with Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami at the forefront. Kohli’s 765 runs earned him the Player of the Tournament award. He also beat his compatriot Sachin’s record of 49 ODI centuries to hit the magic number 50 over the course of the World Cup. What’s more, he also broke the record for most half centuries with a batting average of 95.62 in the tournament. With the ball, Shami was showing true magic. He picked up 24 wickets during the tournament. Additionally, he achieved the best bowling figures in ODI World Cup history, taking 7 wickets for just 57 runs. What makes this feat more impressive is the fact that he did this in a semi-final against New Zealand. With the stage set and brilliant performances all around, India failed to make it count when it mattered.

The final saw a total collapse from a usually reliable batting side that put up only a total of 240. Australia comfortably chased this total. They did so with 7 overs and 6 wickets to spare. Travis Head’s excellent knock, scoring 137 off 120 balls, played a significant role in this achievement. So, how did the Super Team do at the 2023 World Cup? To answer this question, we need to understand the expectations of this team. On paper, winning every single group stage match appears commendable. Blowing New Zealand out of the water in the semi-finals also adds to this achievement. However, considering the quality of the Indian side and the fact that it was played on home soil, the fans simply didn’t deem this enough.  Australia’s wins seem to have delighted most of the cricketing world.

A loss in the final meant that it would officially be at least 16 years till they win another World Cup. Indians must be asking themselves, What does it take to be a fan? This is the question in the midst of millions of fans right now. How on earth did India lose after such a dominant showing? Well, on the field, there can be four reasons for this. First and foremost, the slow dry pitch did not do India any favors. It was meant to hinder Australia’s batting as the board trusted the men in blue batting. However, it backfired severely as India’s batsmen collapsed like dominoes.

Secondly, India’s dominance itself created an issue. You see, up until the final, India did not have any obstacles to overcome. They found every match decisive, indicating they were never truly challenged. Consequently, when the World Cup arrived, they were mentally unprepared to confront a formidable opponent. On the other hand, Australia had anything but an easy group stage. They lost both their first matches and almost lost to Afghanistan had it not been for Maxwell’s magical innings. Third reason why India lost is simple. Australia was just too good on the day. Pat Cummins displayed perhaps the greatest decision-making ability as a captain with strategic bowler selection and a perfect field setting. With the bat, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head formed a strong partnership that eventually won them the match.

These Aussies were simply unbeatable. Finally, and perhaps most controversial, some claimed that the cricketers were too greedy for individual success. Former Indian captain Gautam Gambhir stressed the negative sides of this. He praised the current captain Rohit Sharma. He advised people not to overhype youngsters. Plenty of veterans graced the 2023 World Cup, and it’s likely that most of them will have retired by the time 2027 rolls around. This raises the question: Can the youngsters match the achievements that their seniors couldn’t? Our money is on the youngsters. Fans may feel disappointed and lack hope now. It’s essential to remember that India hadn’t won any World Cups between 1984 and 2011. During this period, there were other super teams. Some of these teams were arguably better than the current one.

Do you think that India will win a World Cup anytime soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Till then, keep loving and supporting your teams. It’s the fans that make the sports.

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