Grading India’s Performances in knockout games at ICC tournaments since 2013

Now that India’s focus shifts to the 2023 World Cup at home, it becomes imperative to look back at India’s constant failures over the past decades in ICC tournaments and notice the significant downtick in their performance in every major knockout game.

Once is bad luck, twice is a coincidence. Six times is the need for deep retrospection and a burning requirement to identify the cause of failure. Because that is exactly what India’s record has been in knockout games of ICC tournaments in white-ball cricket since 2013. The Men in Blue have managed just two semi-final victories since their triumph in England almost a decade ago, losing four semi-finals and two finals in the process.

Here is an in-depth look at how the team actually fared in all of these encounters and what has kept them from repeating the feats achieved by the previous generation.

Semi Final, April 4, Mirpur

India 176/4 (19.1 overs)  [Virat Kohli 72*(44), Suresh Raina 21(10)] beat South Africa 172/4 [ Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-22-3] by 6 wickets

Batting A+, Bowling B, Fielding A 

To prepare for the tournament, India had played a grand total of 5 T20Is since the start of 2013, including none in 2014 ahead of the marquee event. Yet, somehow, here they were in the semi-finals against South Africa.

A flying start for India, courtesy of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma, saw both Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla back to the pavilion and restricted the Proteas to just 44/2 in the powerplay. The spinners constricted the opposition to 66/2 by the 10th over, well supported by an energetic fielding display, spearheaded by the agile Suresh Raina and an enthusiastic Virat Kohli. Ravichandran Ashwin piled on the pressure as well, taking a crucial wicket in each of his first three overs. However, the likes of David Miler eventually let loose, pummeling both Kumar and Sharma in death to reach a commendable 172/4.

Rohit Sharma kicked off the chase with a brilliant show of aggression before falling, enough to take India to 56/1 after six overs and bring Virat Kohli to the crease. The talisman patiently watched from the other end as Ajinkya Rahane and Yuvraj Singh succumbed under the pressure to accelerate, leaving India first reeling at 80/2 and then needing 60 off the last six overs. But he is known as the chase master for a reason and aided by a crucial cameo from Suresh Raina, blitzed India to the win with five balls to spare.

Final, April 6, Mirpur

India 130/4 [Virat Kohli 77*(58)] lost to Sri Lanka 134/4 (17.5 overs) [Suresh Raina 4-0-24-1] by 6 wickets

Batting C, Bowling B, Fielding B+

The game started with Rahane bowing to early pressure as India crawled to 31/1 in the powerplay, resigning Virat Kohli to watch partner Rohit Sharma struggle and leave India reeling at 64/2 in the 11th over. Well aware of his status as the team’s best batsman, Kohli took the opportunity to accelerate only for Yuvraj Singh’s infamous 21-ball knock to restrict the team to dire straits by the time he was dismissed. An exhibition of pace bowling from Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara in the death meant the side managed just 19 runs off the last four overs, registering a subpar 130/4.

India’s new ball duo started off brilliantly yet again, giving away just 12 runs and picking a wicket in the first three overs. However, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan threatened to take the game away with their experience but Ashwin orchestrated a comeback with the scalp of Dilshan, leaving Sri Lanka at 41/2 after the powerplay. Even though the mountain always seemed too steep to climb, the spinners and fielders joined in on the effort with two brilliant catches, bringing the score to 69/3 after 10 overs. Nevertheless, veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera eventually put the final nail in the coffin by smashing Mishra for 29 runs in two overs leading the Lions to a six-wicket triumph.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Quarter Final, March 19, Melbourne

India 302/6 [Rohit Sharma 137(126), Suresh Raina 65(57)] beat Bangladesh 193 (45 overs) [Umesh Yadav 9-1-31-4, Mohammed Shami 8-1-37-2] by 109 runs

Batting B+, Bowling A+, Fielding A+

The Men in Blue raced to 51.0 in the powerplay courtesy of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan tallied 51/0 in the powerplay. However, the duo took their foot off the pedal two quick wickets of Dhawan and Virat Kohli saw them fall from 72/0 to 79/2. Bangladesh seized the momentum in the middle overs and typically, Ajinkya Rahane succumbed to leave them reeling at 126/3 after 30 overs. However, a young Rohit Sharma and an in-form Suresh Raina were always going to prove to be too good for the Tigers as they piled on 74 runs between the 37th and 44th overs, followed by Ravindra Jadeja’s fiery cameo of 20(7)* to take India past 300.

In response, Umesh Yadav breathed fire with his first spell reading 5-1-9-1, including the scalp of a dangerous-looking Tamim Iqbal, to have Bangladesh at 44/1 in 10 overs. Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah attempted to pull the game back against spin, triggering Shami to return to the attack to get rid of the duo. This kicked off a 20 dot-ball streak in 21 deliveries, taking the score to 91/4 in 24 overs, and India did not look back thereon. Buoyed by sensational fielding featuring two stunning catches and a run-out, Bangladesh wrapped up for 193 to award India a 109-run victory.

Semi Final, March 26, Sydney

India 233 (46.5 overs) [MS Dhoni 65(65), Shikhar Dhawan 45(41)] lost to Autsralia 328/7 [Umesh Yadav 9-0-72-4, Ravichandran Ashwin 10-0-42-1] by 95 runs

Batting C, Bowling C, Fielding B+

India did well to get David Warner out early after he looked all set to erupt, but the consequent partnership spelt doom for them. Steven Smith broke the shackles in Umesh Yadav’s fifth, pummelling him for four boundaries to set the tone. 56/1 in the powerplay became 155/1 at the end of 30 overs before Smith blazed his way to 100 off 89 balls in a 182-run partnership. Some ordinary, unenthusiastic fielding did not help India either. Yadav eventually nabbed both him and Glenn Maxwell while Finch and Michael Clarke fell soon after but the pacers failed to capitalize, allowing the Kangaroos to reach a commendable 328/7.

The reliable opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma yet again started off well, taking James Faulkner apart for 29 runs off two overs when he came in at first change. However, the onslaught did not survive for long as the former fell victim to Josh Hazlewood as a result of an unnecessary shot. Virat Kohli followed suit courtesy of an inexplicable desperation to get going and India went from 55/2 after 10 to 80/2 in 16 overs. Sharma’s failure to curb his instincts led to disaster while Raina’s short-ball weakness came back to haunt him. Once down to 108/4 after 23 overs, the required run rate rose steeply over 10 and MS Dhoni’s solitary efforts of 65(65) were only enough to see the team bowled out for 233.

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ICC World T20 2016

Semi Final, March 31, Mumbai

India 192/2 [Virat Kohli 89(47)*, Rohit Sharma 43(31)] lost to West Indies 196/3 (19.4 overs) [Ashish Nehra 4-0-24-1] by 7 wickets

Batting B+, Bowling B, Fielding B+

As per tradition, India started off slowly but Rohit Sharma’s flurry in the final over of the powerplay catapulted them to 55/0. The stage was set as were the players, yet the next six overs only fetched 43 runs to put India on the backfoot once again. Even so, Rahane and Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking and once the former got dismissed for 40(35) in the 16th over, run-machine Kohli imbibed his chasing persona to register a stunning onslaught. From 128/1 in 15.3 overs, India zoomed to 192 as the talisman tallied 48 runs off 18 balls in the period.

Even so, the pitch made it feel like a subpar score but hopes were revived when Jasprit Bumrah sent Chris Gayle packing with his very first delivery. Once Ashish Nehragot rid of Marlon Samuels, the Caribbean outfit looked in dire straits at 44/2 after six overs. However, Ravichandran Ashwin’s deception was met with Johnson Charles’s brute force as the next four overs went for 40 runs. Lendl Simmons joined the party, bringing the equation to 77 off the last seven overs. A surprise move saw Kohli take the ball and like an invincible, he registered a scalp on his first attempt. Alas, it was not enough – all the remaining overs featured at least one six, capped off with a maximum and a four off Kohli in what was a power-hitting masterclass.

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Semi Final, June 15, Birmingham

India 265/1 (40.1 overs) [Rohit Sharma 123(129)*, Virat Kohli 96(78)*] beat Bangladesh 264/7 [Jasprit Bumrah 10-0-39-2, Kedar Jadhav 6-0-22-2] by 9 wickets

Batting A+, Bowling A, Fielding A

India’s new ball duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar started off with a bang. The latter scalped Soumya Sarkar in the first over itself and then a 13-dot ball run culminated in dismissing the aggressive Sabbir Rahman as well. An attempt at counterattack took the Tigers to 46/2 at the end of the powerplay but was quickly stifled. Nevertheless, a switch to defensive bowling allowed Bangladesh to take charge once more as they managed their way to 152/2 in 27 overs. However, Kedar Jadhav struck at a crucial moment, triggering a slow period resulting in two more successes in the next 10 overs. A potential score of 300+ was restricted to 264 courtesy of sustained pressure through excellent fielding and consistent bowling.

Little needs to be said about the clinical chase that followed. A characteristic blistering powerplay saw the score reach 63/0, as not once did the team fall behind the required run rate. When Shikhar Dhawan fell in the 15th over, there was a slight glimmer that was quickly blacked out by Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. The duo went on cruise control, picking up boundaries at will while keeping the scoreboard moving and before one knew it, India were already 165/1 at the halfway stage. Rohit completed his century, Kohli became the fastest to 8,000 ODI runs and the Men in Blue sealed an immensely emphatic 9-wicket win.

India 158 (30.3 overs) [Hardik Pandya 76(43)] lost to Pakistan 338/4 [Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10-2-44-1, Hardik Pandya 10-0-53-1] by 180 runs

Batting D, Bowling D, Fielding A

A fresh, green pitch seemed tailor-made for Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to wreak havoc and the duo delivered, with the former getting Fakhar Zaman caught behind in his second over – until it was called a no-ball. One simple error and the entire game flipped with over 96 overs to play. Pakistan piled on 56 in the powerplay, and it took India 23 overs to get the first breakthrough as Azhar Ali departed for 59(71) with the score 128/1. On the other end though, there was no stopping Fakhar who took just 92 balls for his century with a confident Babar Azam in support. With the run rate reading six at the end of 30 overs, Pakistan started accelerating despite the opener’s dismissal soon after courtesy of a brilliant Jadeja catch. The last 10 overs went for 91 runs, putting India firmly on the back foot.

All it took was one Mohammed Amir spell to completely kill off a half-dead game. Three brilliant deliveries and India’s top order was already in the dugout, the score a tragic 47/3 in 10 overs. Then came Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali in the attack to trigger the middle-order collapse, scalping MS Dhoni and Yubraj Singh in successive overs. Hardik Pandya pulled off a blitz for the ages, even as wickets tumbled at the other end, and in a match reminiscent of the 2003 World Cup final India folded for 158 with 20 overs still in hand.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

Semi Final, June 9-10, Manchester

India 221 (49.3 overs) [Ravindra Jadeja 77(59), MS Dhoni 50(72)] lost to New Zealand 239/8 [Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10-1-43-3, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-34-1] by 18 runs

Batting C, Bowling A, Fielding A

Cloudy conditions at The Oval? A bowler’s dream, a batsman’s nightmare, and the deciding factor of the semi-final. At the end of four overs, New Zealand were on their knees at 2/1, and all the bowlers kept plugging away with dots but the breakthrough just would not come as the Black Caps reached 27/1 in the powerplay. In the 19th over, Ravindra Jadeja finally waved Henry Nicholls goodbye after a 68-run partnership, and the struggle with run rate sustained and grew. 135/2 in 35 overs became 170/4 in 42 after Kane Williamson fell for a gritty 67(94), as did James Neesham. It was here that the settled Ross Taylor flicked a switch – targeting Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal, he tallied 32 runs in his last 18 balls, taking his team to 239/8.

And then it all collapsed for India. Matt Henry, Trent Boult, and the new ball; 4/1, 5/2, 5/3, and 24/4. The entire top-order back in the hut, a mountain to climb for the middle order. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya rallied to stabilize under sustained pressure against brilliant bowling, but inexperience finally gave way with the former falling while attempting an unnecessary wild heave to leave India at 71/5. At the end of 30 overs, the score was a shocking 92/5 and Pandya could hold back no longer, him falling victim too to Santner’s tempting offerings. A Ravindra Jadeja special of 77(59) offered India hope, as did a huge blow from Dhoni right after his departure taking the equation to 25 off 11. Alas, Martin Guptill’s brilliant throw from the deep was enough to decide India’s fate and resign them to an 18-run defeat.

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ICC World T20 2022

Semi Final, November 10, Adelaide

India 168/6 [Hardik Pandya 63(33), Virat Kohli 50(40)] lost to England 170/0 (16 overs) [Arshdeep Singh 2-0-15-0] by 10 wickets

Batting A, Bowling D, Fielding B

Another failure from the openers saw India at 38/1 in the powerplay and down to 56/2 by the ninth over. Another Suryakumar Yadav-Virat Kohli run-fest looked to be in the offing but the former departed after just two juicy blows, forcing the other to stabilize things with a steady 50(40). However, the lack of aggression meant the Men in Blue had tallied just 110 runs with four overs to go, triggering Hardik Pandya to launch a counter-attack for the ages. Five sixes and four fours saw his last 18 balls fetch 50 runs, powering India to a competitive total of 168/6.

However, it didn’t take long for England to deflate all Indian hopes of a titanic final against Pakistan. At a ground with short square boundaries, the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar strayed time and again, offering a little challenge to Alex Hales and Jos Buttle.r The duo grew in confidence with each passing over, staying miles ahead of the chase. A mammoth 63 runs in the powerplay meant the required run rate was just 7 at the halfway stage, and this was before Buttler’s blitz. The skipper helped hammer 31 runs in two overs as the Asians eventually succumbed to an emphatic 10-wicket loss.

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