Team India not making it count when it matters most
Nobody called this team a golden generation but it so happened that a lot of India’s greatest white-ball match-winners assembled for a final charge at the game’s holy grail.
As the saying goes, that is the way the cookie crumbled. After taking the country on an emotional, uplifting journey for six weeks, the World Cup dream was diminished in front of more than 90,000 fans at Ahmedabad on Sunday. While one loss would not make this a bad team—this will probably still be remembered as one of the best teams to have not won the Cup—the loss is why we are not world champions.
Some progress has been made though. The team embraced a more modern batting approach with a number of batters among the top five wanting to set the agenda. But the pattern of losing big matches continues. India have now lost each of their last five ICC tournament finals. Since winning the rain-curtailed Champions Trophy final in 2013, they have lost the T20 World Cup final in 2014, the Champions Trophy in 2017, two World Test Championships in 2021 and 2023, and this.
Even if some of those losses can be legislated as bad planning, curious selection calls, and some freakish innings, at the end of the day, sporting teams are defined by what they do on the grandest of stages.
When the players reflect on this journey, the memory will be tinged with regrets. Of failing to cross the finish line when it was in sight. Nobody called this team a golden generation but it so happened that a lot of India’s greatest white-ball match-winners assembled for a final charge at the game’s holy grail.
Jasprit Bumrah, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja may not get another chance to lift a World Cup. Three of the four will be pushing 38 or be past the age when the next event comes around in four years; Bumrah will be well over 30.
On Sunday night, coach Rahul Dravid blamed the final defeats—three under his watch—as just being beaten by better teams. One argument that has been made time and again is that India lacks the minerals for a big knockout encounter. Even if the players themselves have discounted this theory, the evidence is racking up against them. Luckily for them, though, there is the T20 World Cup in seven months’ time. Can they make it count?