The new chokers

November 26, 2023

By consistently losing big-ticket games, the Indians have earned the tag that used to be South Africa’s

The new chokers

Australia regained their status as the champions of one-day cricket by beating hosts India in the World Cup final 2023 and extended their staggering record of title wins to six.

Australia last won the title at home in 2015. India and the West Indies have won the trophy twice while Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England have won the title once each.

India’s loss against Australia marks another extension of the team’s agonising wait for an ICC event trophy and the players’ lack of big match temperament has become a talking point.

The defeat puts a question mark over team India’s ability to handle big-match pressure and players’ physical and mental toughness to match the firepower of a team like Australia.

You cannot win when players are one-trick horses. You need multiple players who can excel in more than one discipline. Not bits and pieces players. Australia has Maxwell, Head and Marsh while India has only Jadeja.

In the group stages and until the semis, the top 4 of India were scoring big. The all-rounder issues have been plaguing India for almost a decade now. Loss of Hardik Pandya hurt India big in the final.

Australia played exactly the same way they played in the tournament. India played poorly in the final. They had no idea what score to set. Once India were three down, they literally shut the shop down. There was no effort to even score singles. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli were defensive because they knew that once India were five down, their game was over.

Now India will have to wait for at least four more years. Many members of the present team are likely not to be part of India’s squad in 2027.

In the final, the Australian team’s planning and execution were on the target. They maintained composure even after Indian openers’ initial surge. Pat Cummins’ strategic bowling changes supported by excellent fielding restricted the Indian batting to 240.

The Indian team just can’t handle that pressure in big finals. Cricket is different in India. The pressure can’t be compared. Before the final, Australia were the underdogs against the hosts who had won 10 consecutive matches.

After South Africa, India have proved themselves the biggest chokers. It’s been more than 10 years since they won a global title. India won their last ICC title in 2013 - Champions Trophy. The World Cup final loss to Australia was the second one in just five months. They also lost to the Aussies in the World Test Championship final in June.

India 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. They lost to arch-rival Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy and the inaugural World Test Championship in 2021, semi-final loss in the 2022 T20 World Cup.

India deserve the tag of “chokers” more than South Africa. These comments were written by former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar for a newspaper after Australia slaughtered India in two consecutive finals and won the VB series without any resistance in February 2004.

South Africa earned the tag of “chokers” after losing a few big games from a winning position under pressure, including the 1999 World Cup semi-final in England against Australia.

India lost to Sri Lanka in the ICC World T20 final in Dhaka on April 6, 2014. Sri Lanka beat India by six wickets. India managed to score only 130 runs and their bowlers could not defend it.

In 2015, India lost to Australia in the World Cup semi-final at Sydney. India were bowled out for 233 while chasing 328. The top and middle order again failed to perform well. Virat Kohli, who was the biggest hope for India, managed just one run.

India lost to West Indies in the ICC World Twenty20 semi-final in 2016 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. India scored a massive 196 runs and were favourites to confirm another World T20 final birth. But the Indian bowlers failed to defend that total.

The most famous defeat of India came against arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy final in England. India were favourites to defend their title. They had beaten Pakistan in the group match convincingly and qualified for the final without facing any tough competition.

Yet again, the Indian top order choked, as Mohammad Amir removed their top three batsmen. Amir dismissed Rohit Sharma (0), Virat Kohli (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (21). Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy with a huge margin.

Despite all the above-mentioned defeats in the knockout matches, India remain among the best. India won the first World T20 in South Africa in 2007, a triangular series in Australia for the first time in 2007-08, the Compaq Cup in 2009, Asia Cup in 2010, the 50-overs World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013.

The new chokers