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  Opinion   Edit  31 Dec 2023  DC Edit | 2023: Triple disappointment for Team India

DC Edit | 2023: Triple disappointment for Team India

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 1, 2024, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Jan 1, 2024, 12:05 am IST

The Australians outthought and outplayed the Indians in two finals

 Indian batter Richa Ghosh reacts after being dismissed during the second ODI match between India Women and Australia Women, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (PTI Photo/Shashank Parade)
  Indian batter Richa Ghosh reacts after being dismissed during the second ODI match between India Women and Australia Women, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (PTI Photo/Shashank Parade)

Like the curate’s egg, 2023 was good only in parts for Team India. In fact, the three most forgettable performances came in the three most significant cricket matches they played in the year — the World Test Championship final in London, the World Cup final in Ahmedabad and the first of two Tests in South Africa, a frontier that has remained stubbornly unconquerable.

The best moments came in a coruscating run up to the final in 10 victories on the reel in which Team India seemed invincible in the ODI World Cup, except that it had once again managed only to live up to a 10-year record of falling at the final hurdle. There were great individual performances as well as admirable teamwork in tough situations, but the historical inability to win crunch matches made the team appear more like a posse of men rolling the stone of Sisyphus.

The incapacity to win cup events remains the biggest mystery for a team endowed with talented individuals who together fail to show up on any big day. The Australians outthought and outplayed the Indians in two finals, once again illustrating the gap between habitual winners and helpless underachievers, destined to be challengers rather than champions despite the riches of the ecosystem of modern Indian cricket.  

The chasm between expectations and actual achievements may seem bigger because hyperbole vests on Team India a cloak of invincibility, drummed up by the cacophony of paid comments men who must sing to the tunes demanded by the one who pays the piper. If only Team India can start viewing cricket as just a game, it might learn to relax and win a cup rather than eternally be weighed down by great anticipation.

There were, of course, fine cricketers who lit up the year with sterling performances — most of all K.L. Rahul who withstood withering criticism and rank poor form to emerge as a cool competitor with the willow and the keeping gloves, Mohammed Shami who bent the ball like Beckham, Rohit Sharma who espoused selflessly reckless aggression in the team cause, and the unmatched professionalism of the indefatigable Virat Kohli who simply stressed in 2023 that class is permanent.

As the New Year dawns, so will the opportunity, to begin with in the T20 World Cup. If Team India were to view it as just another Cup for cricket in a hurry, it could make amends for a decade and more of drought since adding worthwhile silverware. Winning cup finals is a test of character and calmness in the face of a sporting challenge more than of talent, and money.

Tags: aa edit, odi world cup, team india cricket