World cup win after 28 years… Emotionally and physically draining.. What has Team India in store for 2015? No.1 team in ODIs for a long time.. But are we favourites? Lets analyse crucial factors which might determine India’s chances of winning the world cup.
1) Team Strength
When one compares the possible 2015 line-up with 2003 or 2011 line-up, one will clearly feel that 2015 line-up does not match to it. Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Raina stack up against Dhawan, Rahane, Kohli, Raina, Rohit, Dhoni and Jadeja mostly probably. Experience of Zaheer and Harbajan will be missed badly. Yuvraj did a splendid job as 5th bowler. Can Jadeja repeat that performance in Aussie conditions? Till this point, we don’t have clear spearhead in bowling department as we had in 2003 or 2011.
2) Tour Schedule
This factor might look like a surprising choice for many but I feel it is very important factor in this world cup. Adjusting to the Australian conditions is very important and it takes time especially considering that our team is relatively young and most of the players will be playing in Australia for the first time. Fortunately India will be in Australia by the end of November for a long test and ODI series. It is the ideal preparation for the world cup which helps us to identify the player who fit into crucial undecided slots in Australian conditions.
3) Death Bowling
India’s success in the world cup largely depends on the improvement in death bowling. We saw our bowlers bowling around the wicket in the west Indies series and new steps like that is very much needed in order to make up for the lack of pace in our fast bowling department. By the end of Australian ODI series, India should be able to finalize on who are the death bowlers and back up plan as well.
4) Batting Technique
Indian batting will be tested in pace and bouncy tracks in Australia and it is very important to find the right batsmen who can adapt to the conditions rather than who scores quickly. Lot of Australian tracks are 240-270 track and we have to ensure we find ideal batsmen for that track. Here is where the tour of Australia just before the World cup can come in as handy for Team India.
5) Opening Partnership
This is going to be a very important factor in the success of Indian batting. The main reason for India’s success in Champions trophy at England is that our opening partners did very well and again it is going to be the key in this world cup. Our middle order of Kohli and Raina can become vulnerable against new ball and it is very important that they don’t get exposed. Kohil’s batting position should be flexible at no.3 and 4 depending on when the opening wicket falls.
We will get to know best Indian XI once the series against Australia is over. For the time being, this is my take.
- 1)Dhawan 2) Rahane 3) Kohli 4) Raina 5)Rohit 6) Dhoni 7) Jadeja/A Patel 8) Ashwin/Karn sharma 9) Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10) Shami and 11) Umesh Yadav.
If the opening wicket falls early, I would like Rohit to bat at no.3 and Kohli at 4 and Raina at 5. Depending on Rohit’s form we can decide whether his position can be interchanged with Rahane or not at the top of the order. Batting order becomes flexible in that case. When it comes to bowling, in fast and bouncy Australian track, you need pace and bounce unlike England where swing is the most important factor. In this scenario, having both Bhuvi and Mohit in the 11 does not make sense since both rely more on swing than pace. Bhuvi will bowl more with the new ball and Shami and Yadav will be the go to bowlers at the death. Records say traditionally leg spinners have done well in Australia. That tempts me to keep the main spinner option if Ashwin does not do well in the Australian series. In that case, Karn Sharma can make to the playing XI as he has good control over his line and length and can contribute with bat as well.
For me Australia go into the World cup as overwhelming favourites. If India reaches semi-final / final this world cup should go down as decent one for us. It should not be a problem for us to make it to the quarters. After that it is all about handling pressure and playing good cricket on the given day. So at best I feel India can reach final and at worst lose in quarters. Semi final result looks like a good bet at the moment.