No world cup starts off without the whole of India dreaming of an encore to that glorious day in June 1983, when we were crowned champions of the world in cricket. Every four years from that memorable day the whole country undertakes their favorite pastime of ascertaining their team’s chances at that particular edition of the World Cup. Every ‘Couch Potato Expert’ worth his salt in the country debates, discusses and speculates the team’s chances. Since it’s futile to try and escape this nation wide phenomenon, I thought I might throw my hats into it as well. So here goes…
If you are wondering why the Indian team captain talks of managing his fielders and about placing the right people at the right place, it is only because of the fact that we are one of the poorest fielding sides going into this world cup. Most of our senior players are on the wrong side of 30 and the daddy brigade was never good fielders in the first place. So as Dravid put it, we need be better in the other two departments of the game if we are to stand any chance of winning back the World Cup. Let’s forget temporarily that no team, other than Pakistan in 1992, has won the world cup without being a good fielding side as well.
So what should our players look to do at the world cup? Since our bowling does not inspire much confidence, our only chance of winning the world cup lies in batting out the opposition. This is where the gamble of picking Sehwag assumes significance. Coming into the world cup Sehwag has not done anything to inspire confidence. We are banking heavily on his past performances and his coming good during the course of the tournament. But the team should be realistic enough to drop him if his woeful form continues. Uthappa, even though I have doubts on his ability perform consistently, should be considered if Sehwag does not fire in the group matches. India definitely cannot take a blind chance on Sehwag in the super eight matches.
So our opening batting line up should be Ganguly and Sehwag/Uthappa. Dravid at one down is in the best possible position of the batting line up. The No.3 is the position around which the team should revolve around. I hope the team does not continue with their experiment (if you can still call it that) of sending Pathan up the order on a regular basis. That tactic should be used sparingly and India should look to Dravid coming in at no.3 regularly.
No matter what the situation of the game is Sachin Tendulkar should come in at No.4. We should play him in the middle order to provide stability and strength as that position requires experience and no one in world cricket can provide you as much experience and caliber as the master himself. Putting him any lower would be a waste of his talent. He has the ability to adapt himself to any situation and can steer the side home in tight situations.
Yuvraj should come in next as he is one of the better finishers in the game right now. He should look to play out the full quota of overs if he is playing with the tailenders and should play with a lot more freedom if any of the other top order batsmen are at the other. He should be followed by Dhoni who with his powerful hitting can take the game away from any opposition. India would be looking at these two to take them home during the business end of an innings.
I would pick Irfan Pathan over Dinesh Karthick, even without his bowling prowess. If Pathan is able to bowl even 6 overs at 5 runs an over, I would still pick him over Karthick. I have my own reasons for saying this. For one, I think Pathan is a more consistent batsman than Karthick. For another if he bowls decently enough he brings in another option to the captain which Karthick cant. I would at least start off with Pathan during the group stages and then make a call from there. If Pathan has an off day with the ball he can be covered for by others in the team like Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Sehwag.
In the bowling department, I would play both Kumble and Harbhajjan. If the West Indies pitches behave like what we have seen in the last few years, then without a shadow of doubt these two should be played. The slow low pitches in the Caribbean would be ideal for the Indian spinners and India should be able capitalize on the experience, not to mention the skill, that these two would bring in.
Zaheer Khan should spearhead the attack. He has been in spectacular form after his return to the team and thankfully that has made up for Pathan’s problems with confidence. The question would be as to who would partner him. Sreeshant still needs to prove himself in the shorter version of the game. It’s a close call between Agarkar and Patel. At the moment the odds are slightly in favor of Agarkar. Patel will have to grab his chances if he has to barge his way into the team.
So can India win the cup? Well, if we are to win, then it would require a great deal of luck too. My heart says that we will win, but more realistically I would be hoping for it rather than believing it. But who knows? Nobody believed the 1983 Indian team to be crowned champions either. So all the best boys and bring home that cup. It’s about time you did!!!
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