Can India Defend Title?
India now possesses almost the same team that won the ICC World Cup 2011, but it is different time, different wicket, and different environment. Champions India have huge challenges to defend their title in down under in 2015 .India now on long tour in Australia for test series and tri nation ODI series failed to live up to the expectation . The key players whether in batting or bowling have failed to deliver .The fielding looked very ordinary .When other favorites like hosts Australia and New Zealand and very strong South Africa are peaking at the right stage India’s declining performance has made some headache for the team management . But World Cup is a different tournament, different ball game. Very experienced Indian team in the limited over version of the game hopefully learned a lot to adjust to new circumstances and playing surfaces. India cannot be ruled out just for the reason they did not fair well in Tri Nation series.
India in ICC World Cup:
India is the current World Champions. India also won the 1983 Cricket World Cup upsetting the hot favorite West Indies at Lords in the final. . They were also runner-up at the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. They were semifinalists in the 1996 Cricket World Cup and in the 1987 Cricket World Cup.They finished 6th in the Super 6 in the 1999 World Cup and got knocked out of the world cup 4 times in Group stage (1975, 1979, 1992 and 2007). India’s win-loss record at the world cup is 39-26, with 1 match being tied and another one being drawn.
In late 1970s and early 1980s West Indies was world beaters. They won the first two world cups and were hot favorites in 1983 as well. But Kapil Dev led spirited India rocked the cricket world through turning the table on favorites West Indies. In 2003 also few of their all-time greats made India a formidable team. But they lost another very dynamic team Australia in the final. In 1975 and 1979 India were adjusting to the new format and failed to go beyond group stage. India failed to go beyond group stage in 1992 when the tournament was held in Australia and New Zealand for the first time. But the most shocking performance was in 2007 in West Indies when a very strong Indian team was shocked by Bangladesh and was knocked out at the group stage.
India Pakistan derby at Adelaide Oval has already created lot of excitement at Adelaide Oval. The match got sold out like a lightening. This match will set the tone of the group. Paksitan has not won any match against India at World Cup Cricket. The present Pakistan cricket is not their best team in recent times .Their ace bowler Saeed Aajmal is suspended for suspect action, Mohammad Hafiz cannot also bowl for the same reason. Very effective pace bowler Junaid Khan has also been ruled out for fitness .But Pakistan is still a talented team with few potential match winners. Paksitan India match is already a high tension match .The team which handles the pressure of expectation will win. India is also not looking at its best in ODI in Australia. Their performance was not as expected in the Carlton Mid Tri Angular ODI tournament against Australia and England. Anything can happen in India Pakistan match. Team winning with get great momentum.
The second match of India is against a very strong South Africa at MCG. South Africa is in top form now .India may not be able to come to terms with strong South Africa .Dayle Steyn, Morne Morkel and Philander may be too hot to handle for the struggling for form Indian batsmen .On the other land Indian bowlers will struggle to contain Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, David Miller and co. Indian batsmen Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinka Rahane have to play out of their skin if India ventures to win against South Africa.
We are not very sure that depleted West Indies can create much of a problem for India. But when a team has Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels no team can remain complacent .They can win matches single handed with out of the world solo performances.
Zimbabwe and Ireland have capacity to spring surprises .But we think India has enough strength to outwit and out play these two teams. UAE will be no match for India.
With four wins at least India will advance from the group for the quarter finals at least as third team if not the second .Quarter final will be the real acid test where they might have to play against New Zealand or Sri Lanka.
Indian Squad for ICC World Cup 2015:
MS Dhoni (India) (c),Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja,Akshar Patel,Stuart Binny, Ambati Rayadu, Mohammed Sami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhubaneswar Kumar ,Yumesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma
India proved as a very strong unit in the limited over version of the game over the last few years .On low slow turning tracks of the Indian subcontinent Indian batting and bowling took the team to among the top three of world cricket. Many say IPL came with mixed success. Technique, skill and temperament got compromised with hurricane cricket. Indian batsmen started struggling for forms of fast bouncy moving tracks in Australia especially in ODI Cricket. Shikhar Dhawan is in very poor form with the bat. Only Rohit Sharma proved his quality .Rahane and Kohli batted well in the test matches but failed to replicate that form in ODI .Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni are yet to demonstrate their sparkling batting form which made them so special. The success of India will largely depend on how quickly Indian batsmen can recover form and appear in their true quality.
Indian bowling whether pace or spin is not proving suitable to Australian wickets. Sami, Ishant, Kumar and Yadav have struggled with line and length. Ashwin bowled tight and Jadeja could not impress. India fielded very poorly in Australia. Several catches were dropped. Many Australian state teams field much better than Indian team. Indian fielding alone India can create 20-30 runs disadvantage for India in every match.
We still consider that India will definitely move into quarter finals as the second or third team of the group as both Pakistan and West Indies are unpredictable teams and are vulnerable to intelligent cricket which Dhoni led Indian team is expected to play. We feel that India will miss Yuvaraj Singh. Unless he was not match fit we find no reasons to drop him. India will also miss a genuine leg spinner. We are not sure that Sturat Binny and Akshar Patel are smart selections. We do not think India can go beyond quarter finals.
Date & Venue Match
15 Feb 2015 Adelaide ,Oval , Australia India Vs Pakistan
22 Feb 2015 MCG ,Melbourne ,Australia India Vs South Africa
28 Feb 2015 WACA ,Perth ,Australia India Vs UAE
06 March 2015 WACA ,Perth ,Australia India Vs West Indies
10March2015-SeddonPark,Hamilton,New Zealand India Vs Ireland
14 March 2015 Eden Park, Auckland ,New Zealand India Vs Zimbabwe