India’s campaign at the ICC Cricket World Cup so far has been a strange one. If there is one obvious fact that has surfaced after the first five games, two of which have been against the minnows, is that the Indian bowlers can come under heavy firing on a good batting wicket against a good batting line up. The other major areas of concern have been Fielding and Running between the wickets.
After a few close games, The Indians were desperate for a comprehensive win over the Netherlands. The five-wicket win was not as easy as it looked. The start was breathtaking. However, they almost lost their way when they lost four quick wickets. The loss against South Africa is a hard one to digest.It was a game they held in their clutches. India managed to snatch defeat from the hands of victory. It goes to show how a few poor overs of cricket can change the outcome of the match.
First, the positives we have seen in the Indian Team. As it has been in the last 20 years, we begin with the Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar. 324 Runs in 5 games, two centuries, an average of 64.80 with an impressive strike rate of 100.30. What more can he do for the team? Virender Sehwag has also had a decent tournament so far. 327 Runs with a big century and a half century at a strike rate of 125.28. The perfect opening pair.
Virat Kohli had a dream start to the World Cup with a century on debut. However, since then, in two of remaining four games he has been pushed way down the order. He is the type of player who likes to take his time in building an innings and does not go bang bang bang the minute he steps in. I just do not understand why Dhoni is making him play at 6 or 7. If you wanted to play him that down the order, you may as well play Suresh Raina in the team. Gautam Gambhir has been getting starts and showed a lot of promise for the rest of the world cup during his innings against South Africa.
Yuvraj Singh has been playing his role well. Smart Contributions with the bat and some good bowling performances. Even though, those were against the likes of Ireland and Netherlands, he has proved that he can bowl well. Yusuf Pathan is perhaps the player who has not been able to make the impact he was supposed to have made. He has been sent up the order and still has not been able to play a substantial innings. Zaheer Khan has been the best bowler for India over the past one year and it remains so. 12 wickets, an average of 16.41 and an economy rate of 4.31. The perfect one-day figures. The others bowlers have just been scratchy in their performance.
Persisting with Piyush Chawla after he was taken for runs even by the minnows when even their part-timers proved effective was a big surprise to everyone. Harbhajan Singh has been an ordinary bowler and he needs to be at his best if India needs to win the World Cup.
When it comes to the Fielding and Running between the wickets, it is a well-known fact that India is not the best. India’s fielding was actually better against South Africa. Nevertheless, compared to South Africa’s efforts in the field, the Indians were left far behind. The South Africans converted the ones into twos with great ease. They made our fielders look like amateurs.
R Ashwin! It is time he got a game! Every player needs some kind of match practice. If memory serves, Ashwin dismissed Chris Gayle cheaply in a match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Chennai in last year’s IPL. Gayle was stumped by Dhoni off Ashwin. The Game against West Indies at Chennai should be the ideal game for Ashwin to start his World Cup campaign. Home Ground and a suitable surface. It cannot get better than this.
MS Dhoni! A captain who can lead this team to victory in the 2011 World Cup. After these first few games, many questions have been raised regarding his captaincy. Fine! Let us take it as, “Mistakes can happen”! I say, It is better to make the mistakes now. I quote him after the game against the Proteas when he said, “The loss is more than a disappointment, It’s a big learning curve, If you see the England v South Africa match, it just reminds you, that a game doesn’t get over till it’s over.”
The team has to play to its strengths and improve on certain key aspects of the game if they want to lift the “The Cup that Counts” in front of its home crowd. Teams like Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have proved that they will provide to a stiff challenge to India. It is up to Team India to prove that it can beat any opposition under any set of circumstances.
You can also read my three part preview on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011,
1. The Stage is Set – Cricket World Cup 2011
2. The Key Contenders – My Semi Finalists
3. The Other Contenders: Can they Spring a Surprise?
And, take the poll, ICC Cricket World Cup – Predict the Champions. The poll will remain open till the end of the group stages. Thank You!