UNSOLVED: India’s World Cup enigma since 2014
India U19 lost the World Cup Final against Bangladesh at Potchefstroom on Sunday. It was a historic moment for the young Bangladeshi boys who emerged triumphant in a rather close U19 World Cup Final. While it was a moment etched forever in Bangladesh's cricket history, the Indians fans couldn't fathom the disappointment of yet another loss in a World Cup knockout match.
This has rather been the story for India in the past 7-8 years at the ICC events. Ever since India's Champions Trophy win in 2013, the ‘Men in Blue' have capitulated at the business end of probably each ICC tournament hosted. In the last seven years of International cricket, India has failed to live by the expectations of their fans in winning another ICC trophy after the CT 2013.
2104 – A horror show in the T20 World Cup Final
It all began with an embarrassing loss in the 2014 World T20 Final against Sri Lanka. Under the leadership of MS Dhoni, this was India's first-ever loss in a World Cup Final. However, this triggered a series of India's disappointing run in World Cup knockout matches.
The Dhoni-led team was yet again under the scrutiny in the 2015 World Cup Semi-Final against Australia. Riding on their flawless campaign in the World Cup that year, the sub-continent giants went down against a dominant Australian outfit. This was a one-sided match where the hosts proved too good for the young Indian side.
Come 2016, India was hosting its first ICC event after the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. The fans yet again had their hopes pinned on their team to put an end to their T20 World Cup drought in 2016. In an unusual World Cup outing, the hosts somehow managed to reach the Semi-Final against West Indies in Mumbai. However, the story repeated itself as West Indies stormed their way into the T20 World Cup Final knocking India out of the reckoning. Even a Virat Kohli special couldn't help India in making it to their first-ever T20 final since 2007.
2017 – Double whammy for the Indian fans
In a bid to defend their Champions Trophy title, India reached England for the CT 2017. Under the leadership of Virat Kohli, India reached the Finals to book a title clash against their arch-rivals Pakistan, The defending Champions yet again stumbled to cross the finishing line as they faced a heavy defeat against high-flying opponents in the ultimate game. One bad day made India looked terribly weak as they paid the price for an untested middle-order in the tournament.
In the same year, the Indian Women's team also reached the World Cup Final to face England at Lord's. But the dream diminished for the Indian girls as they succumbed under pressure and lost the final by a slender margin of 9 runs. It was a case of a double disappointment for the Indian fans.
In 2018, the Indian Women's team was competing in a T20 World Cup in West Indies. On the back of an unbeaten streak in the group stages, India was up against England in the Semi-Final. Another tale of ifs and buts as it was a walkover for England as they cruised their way to the 2018 Women's World T20 Final.
2019 – Heartbreak
2019 was a huge setback for a majority of Indians. A much anticipated year, 2019 was the World Cup year. India was the real favorites including the hosts England in a ten-team tournament. Kohli-led side yet again showed why they were unbeatable in the group stages. Except for their loss against England, India was flawless in its campaign before the awful Semi-Final against New Zealand.
A team of individuals which was meant to bring the Cup home, India were left in shock after their Semi-Final defeat against the BlackCaps. Later, it was explained as a matter of 15 minutes of poor cricket that cost India a place in the Final. Kiwis delivered the knockout punch as Martin Guptill's throw to run-out MS Dhoni still remains to be the most dreadful sites of 2019 for an Indian supporter.
Come 2020, the year hasn't begun well for the Indian team. The U19 boys' loss against Bangladesh has glorified India's Unsolved World Cup enigma since 2014.
With a T20 World Cup in prospect later this year, Indian fans, for the umpteenth time, will get behind their team in a bid to find answers to the unsolved mystery. Will Kohli and co. fulfill the joy of winning a World title this year, or will the disheartened faces continue to wait in agony to rejoice India's first World Cup win this decade, will all be answered in October this year.