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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Hosts India have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead against their nemesis New Zealand in the three-match series at home. However, the chokers tag for the 'Men in Blue' at big ICC events still remains intact.

After the stupendous run in the big ICC events under the captaincy of MS Dhoni, Team India has found winning knockout games in such tournaments tough. In fact, the team hasn't won a single ICC knockout game since 2013.

Cricket experts are probably down to over-thinking the fact that one of the formidable teams of world cricket has not won an ICC knockout game for more than seven years.

As per many experts, there is no particular reason for choking apart from the fact that Team India players and think tanks may be taking too much pressure and over-thinking just because it's a big game in an ICC tournament.

The latest examples of India 'choking' in the crucial stages of the tournament are the league matches against their arch-rival Pakistan and the latest nemesis New Zealand in the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE.

Toss played a crucial role in the game against Pakistan due to the severe dew factor. However, huge pressure to stay afloat in the mega tournament and severe trolls by fans over various social media platforms for the disastrous loss against their rivals took a heavy mental toll on the struggling Indian side. As a result, they suffered another humiliating loss against the Black Caps. Though India showed signs of improvement by scripting emphatic wins against three greenhorns, the effort was not enough for them to proceed to the next stage of the tournament.

While there is no denying of the fact that India have not done well in the ICC knockouts, most experts feel that Team India should not be branded as 'chokers'.

"Every game is different and there is every reason to look into those individually. Team India shouldn't be dubbed as chokers for losing some major ICC tournaments. They have done reasonably well in some toughest tours like Australia and England," said a former cricketer.

Another reason for India's capitulation at the big events is the failure of the big guns to fire and stand out on the occasion.

"The onus is mainly on the best batsmen and bowlers of the team to absorb the pressure and deliver on big occasions. It will release the pressure on the younger members of the team and they can express themselves freely in the middle," said another expert.

"There is no obvious reason why they can't do it. Not winning many ICC tournaments is probably playing in their minds and they are feeling the heat which in turn is affecting their performance. The players should forget about the numbers and consider any important game just as another game. They should express themselves freely in the middle and enjoy up to the hilt which could be an effective solution," he said.
 

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