Hyderabad: Team India's heartbreaking defeat against Australia at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 final extended its 'cup of woes' and added another layer to the agonising failure of players, who attracted larger-than-life media attention but came a cropper when everyone expected them to live up to the big-match pressure. Team India's persistent drought when it comes to annexing major ICC Cricket tournaments becomes all the more apparent after Sunday's heartbreaking loss to Australia despite the host having home advantage right from playing conditions to the constant cheer of a boisterous crowd.
The last time India won a major tournament was in 2013 when the team won the ICC Champions Trophy under the charismatic leadership of MS Dhoni. On Sunday, the way India choked under hostile Australian bowling led by their skipper Pat Cummins, can only remind the defeats of South Africa which earned the sobriquet of chokers of the world cricket.
The defeat puts a question mark over the team's ability to handle big-match temperament, and players' physical and mental toughness to meet the firepower of a team like Australia.
The team which continued to enjoy the tag of 'invincible' was left to bite the dust in the ICC World Cup final and its series of near-misses and heartbreaks in the years that followed since 2013 became a glaring example of the cricketing culture of a country where the game is considered a religion and cricketers gods.
The team which was hyped as tigers on papers consistently failed to to clinch the trophy despite reaching the knockout stages.
The narrative of India's elusive dream of winning the ICC World Cup continued with the recent ICC ODI World Cup 2023 final held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. The Indian team, led by Rohit Sharma, which unbeaten until they faced Australia in the final on November 19.
Despite the hype and great expectations, India choked like novices suffering a six-wicket defeat to Australia, who claimed their record-extending sixth 50-over World Cup title.
The final match saw India score 240 which was successfully chased by Australia, which played with mathematical precision. A scintillating century by opener Travis Head paved the way for the team's victory. None of the Indian bowlers could give a headstart to fire up performance as it was in the case of previous games.
The defeat added another layer to India's ongoing ICC trophy debacle, which has now extended to over a decade since their last major ICC win.
Reflecting on the past decade, India's journey has been mired by instances where they came close yet fell short, especially in ICC events.
- They were runners-up in the T20 World Cup in 2014, and experienced semi-final exits in the 2015 ODI World Cup, the 2016 T20 World Cup, and the 2019 ODI World Cup.
- Additionally, they faced defeats in the finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy and the inaugural World Test Championship in 2021, as well as a semi-final loss in the 2022 T20 World Cup. In 2023, this was their second loss to Australia in an ICC event.
- India and Australia would lock horns in the second World Test Championship final at the Oval in England. Once again, it was Head who was the tormentor-in-chief for India as he scored a winning knock of 163, setting the tone for Australia. His partnership with Steve Smith was pivotal, helping Australia post a formidable first-innings total of 469 runs.
- India's second innings saw them collapse dramatically, losing 7 wickets in the morning session, leading to a 209-run defeat.