Indian National team is the defending champions by the last cricket world cup. They appear as one of the favorites in 2015 World cup in Australia and New Zealand. But India recently had a very poor tour of Australia which has shaken the belief of many that the No 2 side in ODI ranking will be able to retain cricket’s most prestigious title.
The obstacles :
The Indian team has been down under since November 2014. They failed to win even a single match- whether in one day internationals or in Test matches. Finally, they tasted victory in a World Cup warm-up against Afghanistan on 10th February, after more than two-and-a-half months.
In the Tri series involving England and Australia, the defending champion India failed to win a single match. Moreover, on February 8, a 106-run drubbing at Australia’s hand in a warm-up has certainly dented India’s chances at the quadrennial event of cricket.
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The light of Hope:
However, there are some counter arguments too. Since MS Dhoni’s side has been in the southern hemisphere for so long, the time spent here has certainly helped team India to acclimatise to the adverse conditions.
Another remarkable thing is that India will not be playing world No 1 Australia in every match like they did during the Tri series. World Cup is a mega-tournament where the most important thing is building momentum in the league phase and qualifying for the knockout stages, as it is a different ball game altogether from the quarter-finals onwards.
Also, several critics have regularly said that come what may, in today’s date, India are a top ODI team.
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Team India in 2015 ICC World Cup:
In 2015 ICC World Cup, India have been placed in Group B where other teams are West Indies, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ireland, UAE and traditional rivals Pakistan, against whom they will play at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Pakistan have a better ODI records against India, but in a World Cup contest, they have never been able to break the jinx of defeating India-the last of which came in a semi-final at Mohali four years ago.
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The bowling attack:
India’s bowling attack is in more than a spot of bother. The pace spearhead Ishant Sharma is out of the tournament with an injury. This put a big question mark over the fitness of another pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It clearly seems that the fast bowling line is not looking good for India.
Under this circumstances, Mohammad Shami could prove to be the key fast bowler for India, considering the medium pacer Stuart Binny and inexperienced Mohit Sharma.
In the spin bowling section, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are proven themselves as match-winners several times, but how much the conditions in Australia and New Zealand will suit the spinners is yet an another question.
In this World Cup the two main concerns for Captain Dhoni will be the ability to take 10 wickets and a kind of death bowling. Lately, India have struggled in both the area and the condition in the world cup where every batsman will look to give his best performance will certainly not help them. If India want to retain the World Cup title, their traditional strength-batting-has to click in time.
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The batting line-up, the only hope for India:
India boasts one of the strongest batting line-ups which possess four Indian batsmen, Virat Kohli (No.3), Shikhar Dhawan (No.7), MS Dhoni (No.9) and the blaster batsman Rohit Sharma (No. 13) in ICC top 20 ODI batsmen ranking. The Indian team has also a reliable middle order with Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane. Ashwin, Binny and Jadeja are more capable as batsmen down the batting order.
In spite of all the disadvantages, the fact is that India will always be the favorite one as the defending champions of cricket world cup.
For example, when India had a poor run before 2013 Champions Trophy in England, they came out on top in a comprehensive manner with MS Dhoni becoming the first captain to win all the major ICC tournaments and Jadeja and Dhawan emerging as the highest wicket-taker and highest run-scorer respectively.
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Team India: MS Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar