Monday, March 05, 2007

India's World Cup chances in West Indies

By John Cheeran
Will India able to regain the World Cup in the West Indies?
India can. So are the other Super Eight teams of cricket.
Each team has the potential to upstage others and lift the Cup. But who will do it?
India’s brand of cricket that relies heavily on batting should do well in the World Cup of one-day cricket. But quite often it is batting that has come short at critical moments for India.
Take the 1987 World Cup semifinal against England in Mumbai. India lost the chase which they had in control for most of the time.
Take the 1996 World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Calcutta. Again India lost a chase that they had begun confidently.
Take the 2003 final against Australia. India’s chase never threatened Ricky Ponting’s field settings. Not even troubled them.
Had our batting held good on these occasions where pressure, a deteriorating pitch and a refined bowling attack put them on trial India would have been champions of the world.
But stuff doesn’t happen that way. Rarely does a weak team such as Kenya appear as a semifinal rival in World Cup. It is quite likely that the top two seeds from each of the four groups will make it to Super Eight and a more challenging World Cup will be there for eyeballs.
The point, however, is Indian hopes are based on the promises held out by our Don Quixotes, our champion batsmen. They should charge at Bermuda and Bangladesh but will they see us, especially our bowlers, see through the Super Eight to the semifinals.
Much of the Indian fortune will depend on Virender Sehwag.
Having selected him for the World Cup, he should get some early matches to murder the ‘B’ teams in the group. And if skipper Rahul Dravid keeps in the side for his bowling, that will be a blunder. Sehwag should be in the team only as a batsman. It would be highly suicidal to transform Sehwag into an all rounder at World Cup even though to maintain the esprit de corps.
Dravid’s proclivity to play Sehwag in the early matches will deny India the services of Dinesh Karthick. This Tamil Nadu youngster, who is wicketkeeper-batsman, looks to be one of the dark horses of this World Cup. Karthick has the ability to find the gaps on the field, handles pressure pretty well and has got the bold strokes. And he appears to be quick thinker. But by the time Dravid makes room for Karthick India would have lost a few of their Super Eight matches.
Any batting lineup that can boast of Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh should fancy their chances in one-day cricket.
I’m sure each of these players will strive for scores that might ensure their survival in the post-World Cup meltdown. Will they able to play for the team and will able to go over the top are questions I am unable to answer.
In such circumstances India’s World Cup success will depend on how well their opposition play.

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