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Conditions Push Team India’s World Cup Chances Towards the Edge

February 4, 2015

Team India

The current ICC ODI ranking shows that the Men in Blue are just behind the top ranked Aussie team, the co-hosts of the World Cup 2015. The records suggest that apart from being the defending champions, India are one of the only 3 teams who have lift the world cup more than once. That’s not all; Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the man who led his team towards glory after 28 years is the only captain having all the ICC tournaments to his name. In spite of all these facts the odds are against Team India this time. So an obvious question arises about how much importance should be given to these facts, figures and stats. Don’t they tell us the actual story?

Yes, they really do! And that’s the reason behind India not being considered among the 3 or even 4 teams that can go on to win this tournament. And what are the odds against the Dhoni brigade? If we see those, it is something like the all-time drawbacks of the Indian Cricket Team that have again emerged to be their major cause of headache.

Poor record in the Oceania Circuit: Whether we talk about 23 winters’ past, when the world cup was lastly played in Australia-New Zealand, or the recent times; the southern hemisphere is not the place where India enjoy playing the most. The simple reason has been their bowling. If you take out the spinners from Indian bowling line up, they only remain half a side. It is hard to expect that the spinners will find assistance from the Aussie pitches. In addition to this, the small New Zealand grounds have always been a hunting place for the batsmen against the spinners.

Lack of match winning pacers: Whenever India have created any opportunity of winning the title, their efforts were well backed by their pace attack. It might have been of a very limited resource as compared to that of the other major teams, yet it always had a significant contribution. They maintained a fair deal of consistency during their fixtures in 2003 and 2011. But in this team I can’t see any bowler who can step up and take the responsibility of a leading bowler. The captain has not been comfortable with throwing the ball to any of his pacers under the crunch situations. That’s why India have often preferred chasing, and it has always put some extra pressure on the batsmen. India should have their moments with the bat, but it’s hard to believe that they can put up any sort of fight with their bowlers being so ordinary.

Law of average: It is another aspect to look for before any major tournament. India have gone close to win a world cup in 1987, 1996 and 2003, but every alternate years they have failed to match up the level of expectations put on them. So from this perspective it does not make a good sense after the 2011 glory, though they might take some inspirations from their previous performance as the defending champions.

In addition to what can be referred to as the “all-time drawbacks” the Indian team over the years, the ‘youngistan’ will also have to face some more challenges.

Injury concerns: With the world cup knocking at the door and 4 out of the 15 men squad are due with their fitness confirmations is not the greatest of signs either. The last thing they want at this stage is that someone like Ravindra Jadeja gets ruled out for the competition. Even if anything similar happens with Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Ishant Sharma, it won’t help either. Ishant being a 3-time tourist to Australia is expected to bear some additional charge. However, if anyone is adjudged to be unfit for the tournament the new comer will hardly have any time to get himself familiar to the conditions. Rohit Sharma on the other hand right now is in the best condition among the injured players and perhaps looks good to get fully fit in time; otherwise it would have been a hammer blow for the team.

Lack of rest for the players: Most of the players have gone under a tiring schedule throughout the year and hardly had any time to rest. We have seen before what can the consequences be. So the players have to fight out their tiredness along with the opponents. This is going to be the unique challenge what none other than Dhoni and his men will have to face.

Yes, there are so many concerns that have been discussed and may be many more left. But to end on a positive note, with the kind of a captain and impact players they have, it is hard to rule Team India out of the equations under any circumstances. You never know what Dhoni has to offer with his tactics. He has still quite some cricket left in him and perhaps even more surprises to pull out. If India need to come up with the goods, it is very important that Dhoni plays at his best with the bat, gloves and brain.

There are many a few other players to watch out for. Kohli was not at his best during the last world cup, and neither the latest triangular ODI series. He will be keen to compensate for that. He is a big match performer and knows how important it is for him to perform well in the world cup. Suresh Raina being another limited over format specialist, will have a big role to play in all the 3 departments of the game. Ajinkya Rahane will also fancy his chances to show the value of his class and temperament. And last but not the least, the only man with 2 double tons in ODIs is going to be India’s trump card in this tournament. We all know what Rohit Sharma is capable of doing when he gets going.

And to summarize the whole thing in one line, there will be billions of tweets going on with #WontGiveItBack regularly, but it will take some miracle for the world cup to stay in India. Being an Indian I will have my fingers crossed, but neither my mind not head says India will retain the title.

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