We won’t give it back!




Ironically, that is the slogan of the Indian cricket team, for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2015. The way the team has performed Down Under since the last couple of months, the slogan just seems to be a pitiable joke. Rather than not giving it back, the other contenders might easily take the crown away from India, if the Men in Blue keep playing in the same manner.

Before the team departed for Australia in late November, the stakeholders of Indian cricket were highly optimistic about the team’s ability to defend the crown. 68 days later and after yet another win-less overseas tour, the optimism is nowhere. Rather, the team seems to be engulfed in the ocean of sheer pessimism. The relaxed and rejuvenated faces of the Indian fans have turned pale and grim.

Cricket World Cup 2015 - Team India Preview

Cricket World Cup 2015 – Team India Preview

The Men in Blue were expected to bounce back in the Carlton Mid Tri Series after being defeated 0-2 in the Border Gavaskar Trophy. Come the tri series, the ODI form of the visitors was gone for a toss. In three completed games, not even for a span of five minutes, did the Indian team play like the defending champions. Leave alone playing like defending champions, they were not even close to being competitive. With less than two weeks remaining for the mega event, the Indian team has been plagued by numerous tribulations.

Four key members of the squad are seriously unfit. A concerning matter of fact is that Ishant Sharma, a vital cog in the Indian outfit is likely to be ruled out of the World Cup. Sharma is most probably to be replaced by another Sharma – Mohit Sharma. With Ishant’s towering seam release coming into the fray, this will massively dent the planning of the Indians. Another worrying factor could be Mohit’s ability to extract adequate bounce from the juicy Aussie decks. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, the reliable new ball seamers too have question marks associated with their fitness. To deteriorate matters further, Ravindra Jadeja, skipper Dhoni’s go to man too is nowhere near his best. Against England at the WACA, the Saurashtra lad looked dejected and wishy-washy.

The most tormenting fact however has been about the form of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. The two giants of ODI cricket were miserable in the tri series. MS Dhoni failed to do that job, for which he is considered as the best in the business – Finishing the innings in style. Kohli’s failures were highly baffling. The Delhi lad was phenomenal in the tests and scored 4 tons in the series, each worth its weight in gold. In the tri series though, it was a sorry portrayal of Kohli. The batting position of the Indian run machine was altered every now and then. His position kept on oscillating between 3 and 4. Kohli managed a mere 24 runs at an average of 8; while Dhoni scored 70 runs in 3 innings.

As the team advances into the World Cup, we conduct a thorough SWOT analysis of the Indian side.

 

STRENGTHS:

Even though the batting unit failed in the tri series, it still remains as the strong point. The failures in the tri series could well act as the wake up calls for the star batsmen. For the batting to remain as a positive, the batsmen would have to apply themselves better. It is essential that batsmen do not criminally throw their wickets away. Suresh Raina perfectly fits in the category of playing nothing shots and throwing away his wicket. In both the games against England, Raina got out to Moeen Ali, playing the same uncalled for shot. Raina was stepping down the track, as though he was roaming freely in a park. Apart from Raina, the dismissals of Rayudu and Rahane too were criminal. It is said that the batsmen earl y on should play “cautiously”. But by the term cautious, it is not meant that the batsmen should leave the first five deliveries, and then savagely slog on the sixth one. Doing so is nothing but inviting trouble. Rotating the strike is a much safer option and makes far more sense.

 

WEAKNESS:

When the term weakness is associated with the Indian team, it automatically means the bowling. As mentioned earlier, the injury to the strike bowlers doesn’t help the cause either. The Indian bowlers time and again have let the opposition march towards victory. In the game at the WACA, England were reduced to 66-5. The game should have been zeroed down then and there. But as always with the Indians, that was not to be. Rather, the bowlers with some defensive captaincy, failed to stop Jos Buttler and James Taylor from scoring the runs. The Indian team looks highly vulnerable while defending a total. If the Indian team is to win crucial games at the World Cup, then the bowling will have to improve greatly; or else the dream of retaining the crown shall always remain a dream!

 

OPPORTUNITY:

A healthy opportunity for the Men in Blue is to build a competitive edge, based on the fact that the team has been Down Under since the last two and a half months. Getting acclimatized to the conditions in Oceania is something tough for the other visiting teams to do. The Indian team should build upon this fact, and strategize accordingly. Another clear opportunity is that the Indian team is in the comparatively easier group. Against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval, the Indians start as the clear cut favourites. With Pakistan, having a history of succumbing in high pressure games, the Indians can take some positivity out of that and come out all guns blazing. The only game in the first round, where India does not start as the favourites is against South Africa. A win against South Africa will be the icing on the cake.

 

THREAT:

A major threat to the plans of Team India is the fact that the team can get blown away in patches. By blown away, it is meant that the Indian side has often lost wickets in clusters. In all the games of the Tri Series, the team lost wickets in a heap. With inexperience and poor form coming into the picture, it only deteriorates the situation to a greater extent. A failure from the batting unit in one of the knockout games will mean the end of India’s campaign in the World Cup. To avoid such a disaster, it will be integral that the batsmen get themselves in before playing any sorts of glamour shots. The aversion of this threat can ease things for India to a great extent.

With just a few days left for the ultimate event of cricket to kick off, a break of a couple of days will do the Indian team’s preparation a world of good. Considering the recent form of hosts Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, it is fair to say that the Indians do not start as the favourites. A couple of individuals will have to perform out of their skins, if India is to retain the crown.

 

EXPECTATION: SEMI FINALISTS

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