Millennium Post

We may give it back

Holders India will have its task cut out when the 11th ICC World Cup kick starts in Australia and New Zealand come Saturday. Given MS Dhoni and Co.’s recent performances, the nature of pitches across the two nations and the terrific form of both host countries and South Africa, it will take a herculean effort if India want to keep the coveted trophy they won on home soil four years ago.

India landed in Brisbane for the lengthy tour on November 23, just a day after PM Narendra Modi pulled off a huge diplomatic coup as US president Barack Obama accepted his invite to be chief guest of the Republic Day parade next year. Today, Obama has come and gone while brand ‘Modi’ has taken a huge beating in the recent Delhi assembly polls, bagging just three out of 70 seats. The Men in Blue, however, have won just one game against cup debutant Afghanistan, a country certainly not known for its achievements on the cricket field.

India lost the four-Test series 0-2 against Australia and then could not win a single ODI in the recently-concluded tri-series. The only way fans can draw comfort is by comparing India’s 2-5 defeat in the seven-match ODI series in New Zealand in the build-up to the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, where Ganguly’s brigade ended up reaching the final. Let’s not discuss what happened thereafter. On paper, India is arguably one of the better batting sides in world cricket now. What worries is our strength in the bowling department.

The inexperienced pace attack sans an injured Ishant Sharma is unlikely to send shivers down the opponents’ spine. It is also unlikely that the spinners will get much assistance from the hard tracks there. So India’s chances will largely depend on their wristy, nimble-footed batsmen to score those extra runs. If that clicks, India might go on to hamper Australia’s chances of becoming only the second country after India to win the World Cup on home soil or deny South Africa the chance to shed its perennial under-achievers’ tag.
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