After their loss in the World Test Championship (WTC) final to New Zealand on Wednesday, India have now become the new chokers of international cricket, having fallen at the semi-final and final hurdles on multiple occasions over the last seven years in International Cricket Council (ICC) events.
The last decade had begun well and offered hope to India, promising a decade of dominance in which they bagged multiple tournaments. India won the 2011 50-over World Cup and followed it up with the 2013 Champions Trophy.
But since 2014, India have tripped at the final hurdle several times. They lost the 2014 T20 World Cup final to Sri Lanka, the 2015 50-over World Cup to Australia, the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final to West Indies, the 2017 Champions Trophy final to Pakistan, and the 2019 50-over World Cup semi-final to New Zealand.
On Wednesday, the sixth — reserve – day when the WTC final seemed to be heading for a draw, India ended up losing the match and the title.
On most occasions – like in 2019 World Cup or the WTC – India have ended as the best of all teams in league standings.
Three of those losses have come under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, while the other three – the latter ones – have come under Kohli’s leadership.
“The WTC final should have ended in a draw,” said former India all-rounder Madan Lal, himself a World Cup winner in 1983.
“If you have to win this sort of tournament, one of two players like Kohli or [Rohit] Sharma cannot win. The team has to perform as whole. Being experienced players, I am surprised they have not performed,” he added.
The Indian team was exceptional in the league stage, having a better win percentage than New Zealand. India had a win percentage of 70.6, having won 12 of the 17 Tests they played. New Zealand, on the other hand, had a win percentage of 63.6, having won seven of the 11 matches they played.
Importantly, India won two of the three overseas series they played while New Zealand won none out of the two series they played abroad.
“If you look at the recent records, the Indian team gets under pressure,” said Madan Lal.
While in some of the finals, like the 2017 Champions Trophy of the 2019 World Cup semi-final, they were completely outplayed, in others like the WTC final, they lost from a position where they were in no danger of losing.
“I think it helps being an underdog. It (the occasion) doesn’t bog you down. Having said that they need to handle that better,” said Madan Lal who was part of a World Cup-winning team, an underdog India.
Kohli said that one game couldn’t decide the best side.
“I am not in absolute agreement of the deciding the best Test side in the world over the course of one game, to be very honest. We are not too bothered by this result because we understand, as I said, as a Test side what we have done over the last three-four years, not just over the last 18 months,” he said.
In many ways, India have begun to resemble the South Africa of yesteryear — consistent throughout a tournament, but off-colour towards the end.