I thought a bit about what I should write as my first post on cricket. After considering some options, I chose to write about India's chances in this World Cup. The choice is pretty obvious. I am an Indian and so, this topic has been uppermost in my mind for the past few days. How will India perform, given the massive expectations from being the host country and also the top performer in test cricket and close to the top in ODIs ?
Let us look at the Indian team in some detail and try to analyze the strengths and weaknesses and assess the chances.
Batting has been our strength for a while now, especially in home conditions where the ball rarely comes up above waist level. Players like Raina, Yuvraj who struggled in South Africa will feel completely at home on the docile surfaces at home and will go back to bullying the bowlers. I don’t expect too many batting collapses and India should pass 300 almost every time they bat.
Spin bowling is also one of our strong points in the sub-continental conditions, especially the likes of Yuvraj, Raina, Yusuf Pathan should be able to give us 12-15 overs between them every time. Yuvraj will be a key component of our bowling attack in the middle overs. He bowls round-arm deliveries on the stumps and does not give much room to hit. He reminds me of Sanath Jayasuriya from the mid-90s to early 2000s when Jaya would always slip in a few decent overs pretty quickly and would grab a few wickets too which was a bonus to the Sri Lankan team.
Sachin Tendulkar - Sorry I could not resist this one J I am a Sachin fan and I have been following him almost from the time he started playing for India, I like the way he has been batting of late, with no demons in his head and he also seems to be enjoying his game. I like to think we can expect another strong performance from him with at least 300-350 runs in this World Cup as well.
Support for Zaheer Khan in the pace bowling department. Zaheer has been bowling very well of late, and can be expected to put in a good performance in the World Cup. But it is his pace bowling support that has me a bit worried. Losing Praveen Kumar was a big blow since he could have been counted to chip in with some attacking overs with the new ball, especially under lights. But with PK gone, the onus is on Nehra, Munaf and Sreesanth to deliver. My pick to partner Zaheer would be Munaf. He can be pretty steady and could be the ideal foil to Zaheer’s attacking bowling. But I am not entirely convinced about his bowling in the death overs and particularly in the batting powerplay in Indian conditions. He could go for runs since he is a bit predictable with his pace, line and length.
Another possible weakness could be that the top order of Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir are all returning from injuries and have been out of competitive cricket for a while. We need to hit the ground running in this World Cup since our first encounter is with Bangadesh, our nemesis from the 2007 World Cup. We need the top order to fire in that game and they will be closely watched in the practice games.
I could write a lot more on this topic, but I think I will stop here for the moment. Let me summarize.
I think India should reach the knock-out stage, and other than South Africa, I don’t think they will be seriously challenged in the league phase. Of course, the first game against Bangladesh is very crucial. I will post a separate piece on that game next week.
I welcome any comments about this post and would love to hear from you all, even if you don’t agree with my views. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but no abusive language please.
So lets hear it from you cricket enthusiasts out there !!