T20 World Cup 2021: Gambhir urges fans to continue to be proud of Team India despite first-round exit

Indian cricket team | Getty

Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Monday (November 8) expressed his disappointment over India’s first-round exit from the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.

Notably, the Men in Blue were outclassed by Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two games of the Super 12 stage. Virat Kohli and company may have bounced back in the tournament by thrashing Afghanistan and Scotland, but their semi-final hopes weren’t in their own hands anymore.

“This was never a good feeling. As a sportsperson you’d want to be master of your destiny rather than wait for a few permutations to go right to know how far you are progressing in a competition. Indian team would tell you what I mean. Champions train to win, they work hard to score that one run more than the opposition and not wait for the result of New Zealand vs Afghanistan match to know their fate. Crashing out in this manner or for that matter losing out on Net Run Rate like South Africa is a bitter pill to swallow,” Gambhir wrote in his column for TOI.

With New Zealand defeating Afghanistan in their Super 12 clash, India’s dream of qualifying to the semi-final from Group 2 came to an end. The last Super 12 match between India and Namibia will be a dead-rubber contest in Dubai on Monday (November 8).

“Both these instances underline one common fact – relevance of respecting the small dots while designing a road map to victory. There is no place for ifs and buts in sport, but things could have been different if India had planned better for Shaheen Shah Afridi, or assessed the pitch better when they took on New Zealand in the second game. For South Africa, they may be ruing their lack of aggression while chasing a small target of 85 against Bangladesh. Is there a lesson there for the organisers? Should the format be a round-robin, where every team plays each other, rather than have two groups?” he added.

Amid the debacle, Gautam Gambhir urged the fans to not give up supporting the Indian cricket team.

“I’d also urge the fans to continue to be proud of the Indian team. We will be disrespectful and unfaithful as their supporters if we judged them on this solitary performance in the ongoing World Cup. Yes, we lost to Pakistan. Yes, we were beaten on strategy by New Zealand. Yes, our friends from across the border are in the semis and we are not. But hold on. This Indian team won us a series in Australia early this year. Next they turned it around when England visited India to beat them in all three formats. We currently lead them 2-1 in the away Test series with the last game to be played next year,” Gambhir remarked.

“Before we take them to the cleaners, please pause and think that all these games were played in a bio-secure bubble. I know a few individuals who were petrified answering their doorbell when Covid-19 was at its peak, leave alone stepping out to work. But players were training at home, taking flights, quarantining in a hotel room, living a bubbled life to play and entertain you and me. Yes, they are paid handsomely and it’s a professional world out there…blah…blah..blah… How about just saying, “well tried, boys”, he concluded.