The madness of IPL is a thing of past now and the focus shifts to the 12th edition of the ICC World Cup starting from 30 May 2019 hosted by England and Wales. The Indian Team players have been given a break to rejuvenate, relax and mentally prepare for the prestigious championship. While skipper Virat “Prolific Scorer” Kohli went to Prague, Rohit “Hitman” Sharma chose the Maldives and unorthodox spinner Chahal chose Goa. Team coach Ravi Shastri, along with the batting coach Sanjay Bangar and bowling coach Bharat Arun took a helicopter ride to Shirdi today to offer prayers for the team’s success. The entire country will be hoping that team India wins the gruelling one and half month tournament and skipper Virat lifts the World cup, emulating Kapil in 1983 and Dhoni in 2011.
The Indian Team opens its campaign on 5th June 2019 with a tough match against a very formidable Proteas followed by matches against Australia and New Zealand on 9th and 13thof June. After a couple of other matches, India’s match against the hosts and pre-tournament favourites England is on 30th June.
The composition of the Indian team is as follows:
Batsmen: Virat Kohli- Captain, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul
Batsmen-Keepers: MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthick. (Should there be a need KL Rahul can keep as well.)
Allrounders: Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja. Vijay and Kedar can be seen as batting allrounders while Hardik and Jadeja are bowling allrounders.
Spinners: Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal
Fast bowlers: Jaspreet Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohd Shami.
SWOT analysis, a tool developed by Albert Humphrey of Stanford Research Institute, identifies internal strengths and weaknesses and also external threats and opportunities. My SWOT Analysis of the Indian team for Mission World Cup 2019 is as follows;
Strengths: The enviable top order in batting and especially Virat Kohli. Indian Openers Rohit and Shikhar are awesome at the top, and Virat Kohli at 3 is the best in the business. The cool and composed mind of former skipper Dhoni is something that any team would like to have. The bowling attack looks extremely lethal with Bumrah among the best in the world in death overs. Spin twins Kuldeep and Chahal can create magic with Jadeja a good back up while Shami and BK forming a great pace attack with Bumrah. Hardik Pandya could chip in, additionally being a destructive batsman in the slog overs.
In addition, 4 fast bowlers, Deepak Chahar, Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmad and Navdeep Saini will be travelling with the team as reserve fast bowlers to provide quality bowling in the nets and to keep the 3 quicks Shami, Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar fresh and match fit. This is the 1st such experiment for the world cup, though earlier 4 net bowlers had been sent to SA and 5 India-A team bowlers had been sent to Asia Cup to assist the team. Costly experiment indeed, but well, BCCI is rich enough afford this and the decision could potentially reap far bigger dividends. Kudos to BCCI also for thinking about players’ comforts. Reportedly, the entire team is being flown first/business class and since there are not enough seats the reserve quicks will follow a day later.
Weaknesses: A middle order that does not boost enough confidence, could be a bane for the Indian team. Added to that is Dhoni’s coolness that could be offset by his undeniable slowing down. His forte was taking the game to the end and banking on his calculative calmness while the bowler would stutter and he finishes the game with a few lusty blows. That may backfire, as it has in some matches recently. Kedar Jadhav has been declared fit and will be travelling with the team but his fitness for such a high-pressure tournament is not exactly of Olympian standards.
The team also may be one spinner too many and one quick less, though paradoxically, 3rd seamer Bhuvaneswar Kumar may sit out a few games as captain Virat may prefer to go in with two spinners, Bumrah, Shami and Hardik ( with a few from Vijay and Kedar) . Yet in England, where 350 is being chased with ease as we saw recently, having an iffy 5th bowler may be a huge risk.
Opportunities: The external opportunity which the team will be benefited from more is the format of the tournament. It is such that each team will play each other once and top four teams will proceed to the semi-finals. With the Indian team’s weak middle order and lack of firepower at the end, a shorter tournament like the 2007 World cup may have been disastrous. This long drawn out format will suit the Indian team better as a one-off bad day may not prove too costly to prevent a semi-final entry. Once in semi-finals, the team will bank on its openers and Virat for making it to the summit clash.
Threats: Every team in the tournament has several breathtaking and devastating players who can take the game away from India in just a few overs. If Australia has Warner, Finch, Smith and Maxwell, England has Buttler, Bairstow, Roy and Stokes, while West Indies has Gayle, Russell, Lewis, Braithwaite and Hetmyer. Pakistan, New Zealand and South Africa too have such destructive players who can single-handedly take their teams past the finish line. Therefore India needs to be closely on guard to restrict these players in each and every match.
Going by the recent performances and the promises, I am inclined to believe that India is likely to enter the semi-finals along with England, Australia and one out of West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand. Once a team enters semi-finals two good matches will decide who the World Cup 2019 Champion is. The hosts had never won the World Cup before Indian won it in 2011. Australia then became the 2nd host team to win the World Cup in 2015. While the heart wants India to lift the coveted cup, the head prompts me to feel England could join them.
The blogger, Ritesh Misra, is an IRS Officer currently based in Mumbai. He tweets @riteshmisra. His hobbies are sports, films, and music.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Pragativadi and Pragativadi.com does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.