Six Teams – Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka- are capable of winning the world cup and no other World Cup has had such a collection of “high” quality equally matched teams — though it must be said that this edition lacks the aura of teams of the past of the “highest” quality. Australia from 1999 to 2007, West Indies in the 70s were great teams with dominating presence. Pakistan in 1992 possessed more talent than the current teams. India in 1983, Australia in 1987 and Sri Lanka in 1996 pulled off major upsets when the clear favourites were West Indies, India and Australia respectively. That being said this World Cup can determine which team distances itself from the pack and emerges as the clear leader for the next 2-3 years.
I know that Test Cricket is a different ball game, but the World cup remains the most coveted trophy. Winning this can convert a team from “Good” to “Great” and give an aura of invincibility to the team. Today I review one of the favorites and my team India. The heart always says India but I have made an attempt to objectively analyse the teams chances based on the cliched SWOT analysis
1. Great top order ( Sehwag, Sachin, Gambhir, Kohli)
2. Big Hitting Firepower under Indian Conditions (Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj, Dhoni)
3. Captain Cool – ( Though Dhoni is not the most attacking/innovative of captains, he doesn’t buckle under pressure and backs his boys)
4. Spin Options – Bhajji, Ashwin and Chawla can all be match winners under helpful conditions. Yusuf, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Raina can also contribute. Pity Sachin doesn’t bowl nowadays
5. X Factors- The resurgent Sachin Tendulkar and Yusuf Pathan’s penchant for the impossible
1. Fast Bowling ( Zaheer, Munaf, Nehra and Sreesanth – not the most potent on sub continental pitches, could get battered a lot)
2. Fielding and Running Between the wickets- Our old achilles heel still persists. even Yuvraj has to be hidden nowadays
3. No fast bowling all rounders – If one of the pacers gets hammered in the Power Plays we dont have a backup
4. Long Tail – Harbhajan, Zaheer, Munaf/Sreesanth, Nehra, Ashwin/Chawla could be a long tail against quality bowling. Without a finisher like VVS, it could be a decisive factor in close matches.
5. Brittle middle order – Raina, Yuvraj, Dhoni are not in great form and a few early wickets may put pressure on them, since they are not technically correct, especially against top quality pace. It is better to include Kohli and drop either Raina or Yuvraj on form.
1. Sub Continental Conditions – can’t get a better environment to perform than in home conditions, Bounceless Pitches and the Billion people willing you on
2. Sachin’s Ambition- The maestro’s burning desire to win a World Cup can drive him to greater heights and can push the team to victory, a la Maradona in 86. By the way his pet name once was Diego.
3. Mission No 1 – India has the best chance of achieving No 1 in both tests and ODI teams in some time but without winning the World Cup it would be fickle. This is an opportunity to prove that we can be a truly Great team.
1. Pressure – It is not easy playing as the favourite with emotional Indian crowds, they adore you when the going is good but bury you at the slightest failure. There is national pride at stake and cricket is not just a game. Hopefully all the right decisions will be taken at the right time on the field without succumbing to this unrealistic pressure.
2. Other teams’ exposure to Sub Continteal conditions – With a lot of cricket being played in India especially IPL, other teams are more acquainted with the conditions, so the advantage has been narrowed.
3. Completely Flat Tracks – Our attack has been found wanting on completely flat tracks , a few of which we are bound to encounter. Turning tracks are fine with us but batsmen friendly flat tracks could pose a problem. so could bouncy tracks but i am assuming those will be a distant nightmare
Chances of Winning : 8/10 (Brain) , 10/10(Heart)
The Proteas coming up in the next post.