Gautam Gambhir has stated that India, despite being a dominant force in league stages, have lacked the mental toughness to succeed in the knock-out stages of the tournament. The former Indian opener has also added that the team has failed to muster enough belief on their ability in big games.
After winning the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013, India have been on the wrong side of the result in world events - losing the 2014 World T20 final and 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final while bowing out from the semi-final stage thrice: in 2015 WC, 2016 T20 WC and 2019 World Cup being the latest. While many have attributed this to their over-confidence, Gambhir, who played two crucial knocks in India’s two World Cup-winning campaign and considered as one of the finest players under pressure, said that it is down to mental toughness.
"What sets you apart from being a good player to being a very very good player in a team squad is what you do in those crucial games. I think probably we have not been able to handle the pressure, probably other teams have been able to handle the pressure that way," Gambhir said on 'Cricket Connected', reported Times of India.
"If you look at all the semi-finals and finals, it just shows when playing really well in the league stage and you don't play well in the semi-finals or knockouts, it's probably your mental toughness as well."
The 2019 World Cup came as a clear demonstration of the trend as India threw in the towel very early in the game against New Zealand, with the top three failing massively. Although MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja played valiantly, it was too little too late. Gambhir demanded a bigger level of performance from the Indian stars in the big events.
"We can keep talking that we've got everything, we have the ability to be the world champions, but till the time you don't go on the cricket field and prove that, you will never be called the world champions," the 38-year-old said.
"It's just your ability in those crunch situations. In bilaterals and league stages you have probably got a chance to make the mistake, come to the knockout stages, you don't have a chance to do that, you make a mistake and you're going back home. That's where belief comes into play and that's what India lacks in all those crucial games."
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