New Delhi, June 14: Former opener Gautam Gambhir feels Indian players lack "mental toughness" to handle pressure in crunch situations and cannot call themselves world champions unless they prove themselves in big-ticket tournaments like the World Cup.
India won the ODI World Cup twice in 1983 and 2011 but have been knocked out in the semifinal stage in four editions, including the last two editions in 2015 and 2019. In T20 World Cups, India had triumphed in the inaugural edition in 2007 and reached the finals in 2014.
"What sets you apart from being a good player to being a very very good player in a team squad is what you do on those crucial games. I think probably we have not been able to handle the pressure, probably other teams have been able to handle the pressure that way," Gambhir said on Star Sports'' show 'Cricket Connected'.
"If you look at all the semi-finals and finals, it just shows when playing really well in the league stage and you don't play well in the semi-finals or knockouts, it's probably your mental toughness as well."
Gambhir, who was part of the 2011 World Cup which the country won after 28 years, said India cannot call themselves world champions unless they prove themselves.
"We can keep talking that we've got everything, we have the ability to be the world champions, but till the time you don't go on the cricket field and prove that, you will never be called the world champions," the 38-year-old said.
"It's just your ability in those crunch situations. In bilaterals and league stages you have got probably a chance to make the mistake, come to knockout stages, you don't have a chance to do that, you make a mistake and you're going back home. That's where beliefs come into play and that where India lacks in all those crucial games."