On Thursday, England beat India in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup and made sure that one of the richest boards of the world continue to lack an ICC silverware since 2013. More than nine years have passed and one thing continues to remain the same: Getting so close, yet so far—Losing the semi-final. Thursday’s loss was among the many knockout losses that has happened to Team India. We take a look at the previous occasions which affirms that India are yet to break the semi-final jinx.
1987- It was the semi-final of the Reliance World Cup—first such global tournament which was being played in the global south—developing nations. Now India were suddenly up against their colonial masters at the iconic Wankhede Stadium. They had won the toss, but made an error of judgement by fielding first. England posted more than a respectable score (in those times) 254/6 in 50 overs. Graham Gooch scored a hundred (115 off 136 balls), and was ably supported by Mike Gatting (56 off 62 balls). In reply, India had started off well, but the batters failed to kick on. The likes of Kris Srikanth, Sunil Gavaskar and Navjot Singh Sidhu all three were dismissed despite good starts. Only a young Mohammad Azharuddin hung on and scored a valiant 64, but that wasn’t enough. England won the game by a margin of 35 runs. Surprisingly, Gooch was the player of the match despite a four-for from Eddie Hemmings and a three-for Neil Foster.
1996- In one of the most ill-fated World Cup games in history, Sri Lanka won or were forced to win as Kolkata crowd went berserk at the iconic Eden Gardens. Sri Lanka had batted first and had been reduced to 35/3 at one stage. Despite this, they were let off the hook and managed to post 251 runs on the board. After this whatever transpired was certainly beyond imagination! The pitch started to turn square and Lankan spinners ruled the roost. Sanath Jayasuria registered insane figures of 3/12! Meanwhile, only Sachin Tendulkar managed to negotiate the turn on offer and scored a fifty (65 off 88). Once he was gone, crowd quickly sensed the futility of the situation and started to throw water bottles and what not in shear anger. Match referee Clive Lloyd had to hand over the game to Sri Lanka. India were knocked out in the most unanticipated way with the face of a crying Vinod Kambli forever etched in fans’ memories.
2015-India started off well in the tournament, beating arch rivals Pakistan and South Africa. In fact, they went onto beat every other team they faced, beating UAE, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe only to go down when it mattered the most. Taking on the hosts, India lost the crucial toss at the iconic SCG in the second semi-final. Australia made merry riding on Steve Smith’s century (105 off 93). Meanwhile Aaron Finch played the second fiddle, scoring 81 off 116 balls. Chasing 329, Indian openers gave them a good start. But once that stand was broken, they were reduced to 178/5 despite a valiant 44 from Ajinkya Rahane. Nevetheless, with the ever increasing run rate, they never looked like winning. Skipper MS Dhoni scored run-a-ball 65, but it was way too late.
2016-After losing to New Zealand very badly in the opener, MS Dhoni’s side did really well to storm into the last four on back of some terrific wins over Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia. Nevertheless, against West Indies they had a formidable unit who just knew how to play the modern day game in a better fashion. India had won the toss on a belter of a Wankhede pitch and riding on man in form Virat Kohli (89 off 47 balls), they had posted a target of 193. But with due prevalent under the night sky, the bowlers struggled to grip the ball and the Men in Maroon took full advantage. Except Ashish Nehra, every other bowler’s economy rate was north of ten. But the hero was Lendl Simmons who smashed 82 off 51 while Andre Russell scored 43 off 20 as West Indies won with two balls to spare.
2019- After just one loss in the entire tournament, India came out to face tricky New Zealand in the semi-final clash. Moreover, they also had to fight rain and damp conditions at Old Trafford where the game took place for two days! New Zealand had batted first and managed to post 239/8 on July 9 riding on a solid half-century from veteran Ross Taylor. He scored 74 off 90 and was ably supported by Kane Williamson who had scored 67. As India came out to chase on the next day, the target looked stiff and the top order got blown away. Only Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni resisted. While the former scored 77, Dhoni scored 50 before a sharp throw from Martin Guptill found him short of crease. Eventually, Kohli and his boys fell short by 18 runs.
Rohit Sharma walks off after losing his wicket in semi-final
2022-It’s not a secret that India perhaps never played their best cricket in the entire tournament. They were beaten by an average South African side, struggled to get going the opening powerplays against Bangladesh and Netherlands. However, they managed to win and get through to the semis. Only Pakistan game was an aberration where India looked like thriving under pressure. Apart from that, this match was a microcosm of their entire tournament. They started slow and managed to score 38 runs in the opening powerplay. Later they were 136/4 by the end of the 18th over. Had it not been for Hardik Pandya (63 off 33), India wouldn’t have managed 168 in the first place. Meanwhile England killed the competition in the opening powerplay, racing to 63 runs. Eventually, they ran away with the game as India showed no fight.