As Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement from Test Series format, year 2015 saw a flutter in the Indian cricket domain. Now all eyes are set on Team India’s performance at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The chances of the Indian team winning depend on many things. There are several questions being raised but the picture will be clear only after the men-in-blue step on the Australian and New Zealand soil for the 14-nation tournament, the One-Day International World Cup, being played from February 14 to March 29. The tournament is being held by Australia and New Zealand for the first time in 23 years.
The 2015 probables – like Dhawan, Rahane, Raina, Kohli, Jadeja – compared to the line-up in 2003 and 2011 which had Tendulkar, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Sehwag, do not seem to be equivalent to the old squad. Adding to it, players like Zaheer and Harbhajan might even hamper the chances of India. Yuvraj played a remarkable game on Australian pitches. Recovering from injury, it is yet to be seen if Jadeja can deliver. India needs a bowling leader just like we had in 2003 and 2011.
Crucial test on Aussie pitches – The new-comers
Experience will play a major role in the 2015 World Cup. Performing well on Aussie pitches is crucial and needs practice and understanding. Given the fact that we will have a young team this time and most of them will be playing their first game in Australia, India needs to pull up and prove that they are the defending champions. It is only players like Raina, Dhoni and Kohli who know the pitch well.
The defending champions will play the World Cup with a team that includes only four players who were also part of the winning squad in 2011. So, adapting to Australian conditions is very crucial. Motivating skipper MS Dhoni has ample time to plan the victory plan after his unexpected retirement from Test format. A motivating captain and good middle order will be the gain but whether the team can constantly put up a good show in the long tournament is yet to be seen.
When it comes to the bowling department, India needs enhancement in death bowling, a way for India to succeed. And especially when we don’t know who the spearhead is in this department we need backup as well as death bowlers. Lack of pace in fast bowling area needs to be addressed.
Though India is the defending champion, the favorites list includes India, Australia and South Africa. The three countries will be competing with each other for the World Cup title this year. West Indies is being considered as the dark horse. India and Australia gain an upper hand when it comes to captaincy and direction. Captain Cool, MS Dhoni is well-known to be a brilliant skipper in shorter formats. The captain this time too must work upon the shortcomings of the team and win the World Cup.
Australia need a batsman
Swing and bouncy pitches in Australia would require a batsman who can adapt to the conditions well. A batsman with good back foot defense and who can play attacking shots when required will be a plus point. India is heavily dependent on Virat Kohli, Rahane and Raina to push run rate in middle over which is the most critical time to decide the outcome of an ODI match. Though Team India has the defending champion title, adaptability to the bouncy Aussie pitches is important. Seam bowling will be sufficient in New Zealand but in Australia it will be a test for Team India. With Michael Clarke’s back problems, Australia will only expect him to recover.
Another favorite, South Africa, will be missing all-rounder Jacques Kallis and his absence may affect the team a bit. This leads to dependence on AB de Villiers, Fad du Plessis and Hashim Amla to brighten the scoreboard and also on Dale Steyn to strike repeatedly. The trend of ODI cricket has changed vastly in the last 6-7 years. Now apart from the power play starting overs, middle overs are the most critical in deciding the outcome of the match. Both Morkel and Parnell usually bowl during this period. So, any given day, short pitch bowling and loose delivery might cost the South African side.
Role of opening partnership
The opening partnership will play a big role in the batting department too. If we look at the success of Team India in Champions Trophy which was played in England, the strong opening partnership was one of the reasons for India’s success and now in the World Cup this year too, the opening partnership will play a major role. Expectations on Kohli, Rohit and Raina and their batting positions will be very critical as well as vital and have to be utilized well. The fall of first wicket should decide the batting order as well as the middle order batsmen. Rohit, Raina and Kohli are to be relied upon for the middle order.
There has been news of Dhoni backing up his Chennai Super Kings (Indian Premier League) teammates which were eventually not accepted by the selectors. When the skipper connected the BCCI selectors with a video conference from Australia, a few names suggested by him were not entertained by the selectors.
The BCCI, from 30 probables, cut it down to ultimately 15 on Tuesday in which Stuart Binny’s name raised many questions. Binny’s father Roger is in the selection committee and many questions were asked upon his selection. However, selectors believe that considering the New Zealand conditions, Binny will prove to be significant for the team. Murali Vijay who seems to be in full form was left out of the final team followed by Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa being left out from the final squad to play for the 2015 World Cup. Jadeja’s inclusion in the team keeping in mind his injury too raised questions.
While Dhoni backed up CSK teammates M Vijay (former CSK player) as a back-up plan in the opening department, Mohit and Aaron as the fifth pacer, the selectors after consultation from Virat Kohli pulled down their names in the final 15.
Sachin Tendulkar who was India’s lead scorer in the 2011 World Cup victory believes that India has a fine possibility of winning the 2015 World Cup. While launching his autobiography at the Lord’s Cricket Ground the cricket legend felt that Team India’s spinners would play a key role keeping in mind the size of the pitches/grounds. According to Tendulkar, England, as per their current form does not stand as favorites or could be ready for action. On the other hand, leading run-scorer in the history of World Cup, Adam Gilchrist feels that AB de Villiers is a very important player as he is also one of the best right-hand batsmen at present and can also keep wickets. Gilchrist also believes that while Mitchell Marsh and David Warner will improve chances for Australia, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli too will prove to be crucial for Team India.
AB De Villiers: South African captain, right-hand middle order batsman, wicket keeper. He is a very inventive captain and the perfect leader for South African team. He can play touch game in critical situation and use long handle in power play overs.
MS Dhoni: Indian captain, right-hand lower middle order batsman and wicket keeper. He is the most experienced and best captain in tournament. India heavily depends on his leadership.
Virat Kohli: Indian vice-captain, right-hand batsman. He is a young, excellent stroke maker, key strategist and a real fighter. At present he is on green patch and playing his best cricket. His form is very important for India’s cricket future in World Cup.
David Warner: Australian opening batsman. He is probably the best opening batsman in the world. With home advantage and current good form he will be a challenge for every bowler in the tournament.
Steve Smith: Australian all-rounder. He is an attacking middle order batsman, leggie bowler and one of the best fielders at any position of the cricket ground. Like Kohli, he is on extraordinary batting form.
Chris Gayl: West Indies opening batsman. He is flamboyant and power house left hand Caribbean batsman. He is in form and fully fit. Gayl is dangerous for any attack.
Mitchell Johnson: Australian left-hand fast bowler. He is the best fast bowler in the world at the moment. He will lead Australian attack and has home advantage. He is also extremely attacking lower order batsman.
Indian squad for World Cup
The ICC 2015 World Cup line-up will have four fast bowlers, three spinners which would include Aksar and Jadeja, considered as spin bowling all rounders. Seven batsmen and one seam-up all rounder would be part of the squad. Dhoni will serve as the only wicketkeeper for Team India. Aksar Patel’s World Cup dream has turned a reality as he was included in the 15 line-ups for the ODI that would be played in Australia and New Zealand.
We expect an enthusiastic and promising performance from Aksar Patel. As Yuvraj singh failed to find a spot in the squad, recovering from shoulder injury, Ravindra Jadeja’s name found place in the list. Yuvraj could only make a comeback if Jadeja fails to recover fully, and the BCCI could ask for a replacement due to injury as per ICC’s World Cup rules and regulations. But as of now, the chances look very bleak for once-upon-a time-world cup star, Yuvraj Singh.
Team India: MS Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Aksar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Stuart Binny, Umesh Yadav.