The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, hosted by India for the first time since 2011, was a roller-coaster ride for the Men in Blue, who reached the final for the fourth time in history, only to lose to Australia by 19 runs in a thrilling encounter. Despite their consistent wins throughout the tournament, Team India’s dismal performance in the final drew flak from Indians and brought the spotlight to their lack of the killer instinct which wins matches and championships.
The Indian cricket team has faced setbacks in crucial matches during recent ICC tournaments, including the World Test Championship final in 2021, the T20 World Cup semi-final in 2020, and the ODI World Cup semi-final in 2019. These defeats raise questions about the team’s ability to handle pressure and close out games successfully.
A noticeable pattern within the Indian cricket team is a tendency to become complacent and overconfident following initial victories, subsequently losing momentum and focus in subsequent matches or series. An instance of this is evident in the team’s loss to South Africa in 2023, surrendering the Test series after an impressive initial win. Similarly, the team faced a setback in the ODI series against Australia in 2020 after a dominant victory in the first ODI.
Consistent dominance against opponents across all formats and conditions has eluded the Indian cricket team. Struggling to adapt to diverse pitches and situations, the team has often found itself at a disadvantage. Moreover, the heavy reliance on a few key players, including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Ravichandran Ashwin, has hindered the team’s ability to nurture new talent or find suitable replacements for injured or out-of-form players.
Cricket transcends mere sport in India; it is a national passion that nurtures the aspirations of countless middle-class youths towards success in the Indian dream. Requiring skill, passion, and teamwork, cricket mirrors the diversity and unity of Indian society. The game not only offers opportunities but also rewards excellence, motivating millions to pursue their goals. Serving as a global connector, cricket showcases the talent and spirit of the Indian people. Through legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Mithali Raj, Kapil Dev, and Virat Kohli, cricket has spawned heroes inspiring generations. Beyond a game, it brings joy and pride, symbolizing the essence of the Indian dream. Therefore, the Indian cricket players should develop that killer instinct that wins matches, so that it percolates down to the girls and boys getting inspired by the persona and lifestyle of the players.
Team India’s loss in the final was a heartbreaking moment for the players and the fans, who had high hopes and expectations from the hosts. However, Team India should not let the result dishearten them, this is the moment to go back to the drawing board and rethink strategies, regroup and relearn. India, though proud of how far they have come since the World Cup victory in 1983, with their achievements and contributions, should also look forward to the future where they will have a winning streak and work well under pressure. Champions possess tougher mettle and do not let pressure break them or allow successes to go to their heads. It is time the Indian cricket team pulls up its socks and learns from the six-time winning champions Australia.