India lack belief in knockout games: Gambhir

Crushing blow
Indian opener Rohit Sharma is crestfallen after the loss to New Zealand in the semifinals of the 2019 ICC World Cup. File photo: AFP

New Delhi: Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes the current Indian team lacks belief while playing in the knockout stages of multi-lateral tournaments and that's why they end up on the losing side while playing in the semifinals and finals.

India last won an ICC event in 2013 when M S Dhoni led the side to victory in the Champions Trophy in England. Since then, they have entered the semifinals of both the 50-overs World Cups but lost there. Similarly, they lost to West Indies in the semifinals of the 2016 ICC World 20 before going down to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy 2017 final.

"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 while speaking on Star Sports show Cricket Connected.

"If you look at all the semifinals and finals, it just show when playing really well in the league stage and you don't play well in the semi-finals or knockout, it's probably your mental toughness as well," he added.

Hopes belied
Indian fans can't hide their disappointment after the Kiwis pulled off a shock win in the 2019 World Cup semifinals. File photo

The former Indian opener, who was part of the Indian team in both the successful campaigns at the 2007 World T20 as well as the 2011 World Cup, believes unless and until our team proves on the field and emerge victorious in the knockout stages of the tournament, they cannot be termed as world champions.

"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 champion," said Gambhir.

One of the problems with the Men in Blue in the recent ICC events has been their inability to take their momentum of the league stage into the knockouts. For instance, in the 2019 World Cup, Virat Kohli's men had topped the league stage but they faltered in the semifinal clash with New Zealand.

Big-match players
M S Dhoni, left, and Guatam Gambhir played key roles in India's win over Sri Lanka in the 2011 ICC World Cup final. File photo: AFP

"So it's just your ability in those crunch situations. I've always said this, in bilateral and league stages you have got probably a chance to make the mistake, come to the knockout stage you don't have a chance to make a mistake, you make a mistake and you're going back home," Gambhir said.

"So that's where beliefs come into play and that where India lacks in all those crucial games," he added.

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