Feb 12, 2015

Quick thoughts on India's chances in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Introduction

Hello dear readers, and fellow cricket lovers! Well... we're just 2 days away from that big eventful day. Wait, what? Valentine's Day?? No silly, I meant the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 *insert dramatic echo*



This is cricket's biggest tournament, and it indeed does look promising! This post will mainly cover Team India, and my personal thoughts on it, and its chances.

This post is coming late (as of now, 2 days before the tournament kicks off), because I was waiting to watch the warm-up matches to have a better idea of what to expect from each team in this tournament.

The Indian players have been in Australia for around 2 months (or more, I think). They're exhausted, away from their families, and have been winless throughout their entire stay in Australia. Despite being World Champions, it will be a tough ask for them to defend the title - no doubt about that!

I agree that our Indian team is mainly dominant when playing at home, and that our "Away" record is not that great. But all that being said, you just can't discard this team away from the top contenders for the title. They're still among the tougher opponents.

Plus, with a true star, and a fantastic leader like Mahendra Singh Dhoni leading this side, I think we still have our chances.

So here goes, my preview and sort-of-predictions for this World Cup! Enjoy the read!

Team selection


It may be a bit late to speak about this, since it has been quite some time since the squad has been selected.

People around me know this, I have been quite vocal about this, but I was totally disappointed with Stuart Binny's inclusion, initially. After seeing his performance in the last few games, I was quite impressed, and as of now, I may want to take back my words. He might still fail in the World Cup games, but at least in the build-up games, he proved a point to his critics (including me).

Ajinkya Rahane is going to be a star in this World Cup, I'm putting my money on it (well not really, it's just a figure of speech). Jokes apart, he has been in great form, and has great technique. Very reassuring for India.

A lot of people are speaking about Virat Kohli, one of the guys to look forward to in this tournament, and all that. But sadly, seeing how he failed in the last two warm-up games, I'm a bit worried about Virat's form. Especially since I'm quite a huge fan of his, and we need him in top shape for this tournament. Because with a match-winner like Kohli in form, India can win matches. When Virat performs, India usually wins big. Of course, it will only take one match for him to turn around his entire form, we all know he comes back stronger than ever, once out of his rough patch.

Another key player is Rohit Sharma. With Rohit opening our batting, we will need him in form to ensure he either sets up a good start for a total, or gets our chases underway quickly. Shikhar Dhawan also needs to be in good touch.

Among our bowlers, I would like to highlight the following points. To begin with, it is indeed obvious that India has a weak bowling line-up, especially in the Australian and New Zealand conditions. But our bowlers are not all that bad either. Here too, I would like to make my "unusual" prediction: if Mohit Sharma gets to play, he will make an impact. He has the technique and the skill to threaten the opponents, and he can take wickets. Other than that, of course, Bhuvneshwar and Shami will be our main key fast bowlers. In the spin department, looking forward to seeing Ashwin and Jadeja in charge of things. Will be interesting to see how Akshar Patel fares, if he gets to play.

And above all, the captain. MS Dhoni. I think he will make the biggest difference. Even if we do not really win this tournament, this man has the potential to lead us till the semi-finals at least. And his effective leadership will make a difference, it's an asset Team India has, which the other teams don't possess. Additionally, if needed, when he bats, he can be destructive.

Predictions

To know how far India will reach in this tournament, it is important to know who we will face in the tournament.

Group Stage

I'm putting aside the games against UAE, Ireland and Zimbabwe (considered as minnow teams). Unless there are major upsets (I dread those), we should defeat them easily.

Against Pakistan, it will be an interesting game. Both India and Pakistan are having their own troubles. I'm going for India on this one. Not because I'm an Indian supporter, but even generally speaking, India seems like a bit more settled camp than Pakistan at the moment.

Against South Africa, it is going to be a Herculean task for India to win. Will be a tight one. South Africa is the stronger team here, on paper, and in recent form.

Against West Indies, it should be a rather easy one to win, going by the form of the Windies.

Knockouts

A bit tough to predict, but going by my above mentioned predictions, India will be placed in the 2nd position in Group B. (South Africa ranked 1st, in my opinion)

This means we will be playing with the team placed 3rd in Group A, in the Quarter-final. I'm thinking that team will be mostly between England and Sri Lanka. Both seem like beatable opponents. They are tough opponents, but India can surely go past them.


That would lead us to the Semi-Final. India will have to play the winner between the team ranked 1st in Group A (A1) and the team ranked 4th in Group B (B4). A1 will surely be Australia and B4 should be West Indies. In that case, it should be an Australia versus India semi-final. This will be an incredible match, India will have to cross a tough hurdle to get to the final.

And if they do, well they might as well play the final against, whom I consider the second strongest opponents in the World Cup, New Zealand.

So in short, I think we will surely get to the semis, but the semi-final, and the final, will be both extremely tough games.

Final thoughts

This will not be an easy campaign. But with a team like India, with players like the ones we have, and with a highly-successful captain like MS Dhoni, we have the necessary ingredients to make that successful recipe once again!

With that being said, here's extending my full support to the Indian team for ICC World Cup 2015! Win it once again for us, Team India! All the very best to you, Dhoni and co., bring us that Cup one more time!

Here's signing off with full passion! Chak de India, Bleed Blue, "We Won't Give It Back!", and all that! Hehe! Good luck India!

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