Three consecutive losses in the ICC finals. Here’s why Australia has an advantage over India.
Young Indian team inherits the challenge of beating Australia
The young guys had a great deal of responsibility. In the eight months that had passed, their older, more seasoned peers had failed twice at the last hurdle, each time running into the unstoppable Australians. The task of ending the Australian curse fell to Uday Saharan and his daring boys in Sunday’s Under-19 World Cup final in Benoni.
It was not meant to be. Similar to Rohit Sharma‘s team in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in June and the 50-over World Cup final in Ahmedabad in November, India finished second to Australia in a one-sided championship match between undefeated teams, losing by 79 runs.
It was easy to understand why Australia won, at least in this particular case. With their four towering pacers, they could take advantage of the favorable circumstances better since they were not only fast but also had significant bounce off the Willowmoore Park deck. Saharan lamented a string of careless pitches from his hitters, including himself, but a few of them found their way into the hands of fielders because the ball arrived sooner or higher than the Indians had anticipated or been used to.
India’s Tight Win and Potential Upset
Had the World Cup remained in Sri Lanka, the original hosts before the International Cricket Council suspended the Sri Lankan board due to political meddling, the tale would have been quite different. India was better suited to take use of the island nation’s slower, lower tracks. However, Australia clearly outclassed India in Benoni. If not for a brilliant fifth-wicket partnership between Saharan and Sachin Dhas, they may have been eliminated in the semi-finals themselves, after their top order was destroyed by the South African quicks. The Aussie hoodoo may not have been extended at all in that case.
The most obvious—and alluring—reason for India’s run of defeats against Australia would be to tout the winning mentality that permeates Antipodean sports. The women, too, were thoroughly embarrassed by the hosts at the MCG in March 2020 during the T20 World Cup final. The Australians are undoubtedly a hard group to “settle” for; they detest being second best and are driven more by the idea of handling silverware than by anything else.
They flourish in the security of numbers, especially in team sports, where they may bounce ideas and energy off one another. When combined with their enormous skill sets, they exude a sense of fear and swagger in finals, particularly in cricket. This makes them a formidable force that will never give up.
Inadequacy, cognitive obstruction, or readily gratified?
Does it imply that Indians are too easily satisfied? After all, in our nation, supporters were mostly unaffected by the outcome for years on end as long as Sunil Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar mentioned their own achievements. Not that either legendary Mumbaikar was satisfied with his or her own success, but as a nation we were too quick to judge and too quick to jump to the other extreme when it came to expressing our extreme disappointment at a bad performance, like when India failed to advance past the first round of the 50-over World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007.
Highlights the shift in Indian sports expectations
Once upon a time, Indian athletes were proud to have made it to the Olympics. There is now a real anticipation that a few athletes will take home medals. That is the extent of the public’s maturity among sports fans.
Why, therefore, do India always show Australia the white flag during cricket finals? There wouldn’t be a jinx if there was an easy solution, a single explanation for it. India was utterly outmatched in both the World Cup final and the WTC final. It was a tough pill to take, especially in Ahmedabad, considering the very powerful and outstanding campaign India had fought throughout the tournament.
It’s possible that stage anxiety overcame the middle order after Rohit was fired for his typical aggressive opening. They may have paid a high price for abandoning the aggressiveness that had worked so effectively for them in favor of caution due to the significance of the situation and the stakes involved. Or maybe Australia was simply that brilliant that night—they can be, right?—and they made India change their strategy, much as Ben Stokes’ England is doing right now in the present Test series.
There won’t be a turnaround till India defeats Australia in a final. Even with new individuals, the baggage from previous setbacks will mount up. Ask Pakistan, who had an 0-8 record in 50-over World Cups versus India.