Squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla, R Ashwin, Sreesanth
India has enjoyed a fantastic time in international ODI cricket of late. India is currently ranked 2 in the ODI ratings just behind Australia. Kohli, Gambhir and Dhoni (not the more prolific Tendulkar and Sehwag) are in the top 10 ODI batsmen in the world according to official ICC rankings. However none of India’s bowlers are in the top 10.
No other team will benefit more from the conditions as India due to the obvious home advantage. Today India has beaten Australia in a warm up match. India’s spinners have taken the
majority of the wickets.
The Indian spin attack will be a force to reckon with in this World Cup. India is playing three specialist spinners in Chawla, Harbhajan and Ashwin. However India’s Sehwag, Yuvraj and Pathan can bowl as well as any spinner on their day. India is therefore probably going with the most depth in its spin attack. India’s preferred line up will probably feature 5 spinners at least- Harbhajan, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Pathan and either one of
Chawla or Ashwin.
Key Players: India’s experienced players are the key for obvious reasons. Tendulkar is the leading run scorer in World Cups, averaging 58. Sehwag averages 35 in India at a strike rate of 107 with 4 centuries. Gambhir averages 40 in India. India is probably going in with the strongest opening pair too. Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan have changed the Indian team’s fortunes over the past few years.
Wildcard player: Yuvraj Singh has faced a lot of criticism from his fans for inconsistent form and careless approach to batting. But, Yuvraj is a match winner on his day. He enjoys batting in India and averages 42, about 6 runs more than his normal average. This discrepancy shows that Yuvraj can be a destructive force on home soil.
Watch out for: Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli. Kohli averages 70+ when India is chasing. Yusuf Pathan has shown explosive form over the past year and is now one of the most feared Indian players. Pathan has the potential to score in boundaries and sixes under pressure. His bowling has also become penetrative. If Pathan sticks around for long he will destroy the opposition in no time. The opposition can only hope he will hit in the air vertically rather than horizontally.
The downside: India still faces problems of inconsistency. The Indian pace bowling is overly reliant on Zaheer Khan and if he gets smacked for runs, the rest of the pacers lose heart. India’s fielding has shown steady improvement but is still not at par with South Africa and Australia. Worst of all, India is still dependant on Sachin Tendulkar. If Tendulkar gets out cheaply the team starts to panic. Fortunately for India players like Kohli and Pathan are mentally strong and able to withstand the loss of Tendulkar.
In conclusion India can win this World Cup if their spinners fire in big matches and if they get out of his mental block of over reliance on Tendulkar. They are a spirited team with home advantage and some explosive players and there is little doubt they will reach the semi finals at least.