What are India’s realistic chances?

Let’s face it. Team India lags at 5th place on the ICC ODI table.

As I indicated in a previous article on gurus and pundits, a lot of former Indian cricketers have been incredibly busy lately achieving more exposure than Mallika Sherawat!

Lots of pundits have talked up India’s chances. Sunil Gavaskar says that India will bring home the World Cup “because of the sheer passion generated by the game in the country.” Since when did the passion of a billion cricket fans sitting about 5000 miles away win World Cups! Perhaps he is thinking of a spiritual uplifting in a semi-tantric sense? Who knows what Gavaskar thinks anyway!

Gavaskar’s contemporary, of nose-blowing-fame, I-can-speak-faster-than-you-can-blink-Kris-Srikkanth, opines that India will win. He reckons that, “We have a very well balanced side with experience and all-rounders that has lent stability. The pitches in the West Indies is expected to be similar to those in the sub-continent.

Be that as it may, what are India’s chances? Realistically?

I honestly believe that the team with the best/most allrounders will win the World Cup. Again, I am hapy to be proven wrong and will happily eat humble pie if this is proven wrong. But I feel India missed a few beats in the lead up to the World Cup. I felt that the coach and captain embarked on the right path by egging Pathan on as an allrounder. This, and the making-of-Dhoni (as an allrounder) were both master-strokes when India played that exciting spell of ODI cricket in September-October 2005 agaisnt South Africa and Sri Lanka.

However, it seemed as though coach-and-captain had pinned all their hopes on this one horse. When Pathan’s bowling fell away, they appeared to have no Plan-B. They should have, at that point in time, groomed a Joginder Sharma or someone else. They could have opted to over-bowl Virender Sehwag in an attempt to get that bowling contribution from him going in a much more compelling manner. It is likely that Pathan will come good in the World Cup. But, prima facie evidence suggests that India faces a marginally under-cooked situation in the allrounder stakes. I feel this could hurt India’s chances.

Allrounders give teams amazing flexibility. And that’s most required in the ODI game today. India do not have it — not enough of it anyway, in my view! One could argue that Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly can bowl too. Yes they do. But they are not allrounders in the mould of Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Andrew Flinitoff, Jacques Kallis, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Sanath Jayasuriya, Abdul Razzaq (Azhar Mahmood), Shoaib Mallik, Shaun Pollock and Chris Gayle…

It would be most surprising if the players named above do not bowl-out their 10-overs in most games. In other words, they make telling contributions with the ball and bat quite well too. A misfit in this list, in that sense, is probably Shoaib Mallik.

Be that as it may, the absense of an allrounder may hurt India. India does have the bits-and-pieces bowlers who bat very well in Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Ganguly. We also have a bits-and-pieces bat who bowls marginally average: Pathan! These do not make allrounders though.

Note that I have not considered M.S.Dhoni in this comparative discussion on allrounders. In my view, Dhoni is India’s best allrounder. However, I have not thrown him into the allrounder discussion above because, in my view, most teams these days have terrific ‘keeper-bats! Australia has Adam Gilchrist. Sri Lanka has Kumar Sangakkara. South Africa has Mark Boucher. Pakistan have Kamran Akmal (although he is in the midst of a form-slump). New Zealand have Brendon McCullum. I feel that in this regard, West Indies will be hurt by Dinesh Ramdin. England will be hurt by Paul Nixon — if he ‘keeps as well as he talks, his game would perhaps be on another plane altogether!

And for this reason, I think it will be quite a good result for India if we make it past the Super8 stage and into the semi-finals. I would be happy to break an egg on my face myself if India advance to the semi-finals. I’ll break two if India reach the finals.

Don’t get me wrong. I want India to win. And I am not dismissing Team India before even a game has been played! Just like any other Team-India fan, I do want this team to do well. As a Team India fan, I am merely setting my realistic expectations from this team. As the tournament unfolds, I expect these expectations to be re-visited.

There is a reason why India lags 5th in the ICC table. A 5th position is perhaps the best that India can hope for, perhaps? My view is that we must depend on other teams to advance into the Top-4.

From there on in, anything can happen…

— Mohan

5 responses to “What are India’s realistic chances?

  1. Hi Mohan,

    The mute button on a TV remote control is the best invention ever for the benefit of cricket fans.
    I can silence the cricket pundits from the comfort of my armchair. 🙂

    You rightly say that all-rounders are vital in ODIs.
    It is also true that we do not have any proper all-rounder.
    All-rounders are born with the potential to become one,
    otherwise everyone could and would be training to be one.

    Failing which, we have to settle for players with dual attributes.
    Batsmen who can bowl at bit, bowlers who can bat a bit,
    and wicket-keeping batsmen.
    and other than the WK, the more of these dual attributes, the better the logistics
    of playing a long drawn-out and high pressure tournament.
    I agree so far.

    Which is why I fail to understand why Rahul Dravid is in an ODI team.
    In the past he has kept, so did perform dual tasks,
    but now he is occupying a position as a single attribute cricketer.
    When all players are being encouraged to improve their weaker attribute, why do I not see Dravid bowl?

    That because he is ‘the wall’ we cannot do without him in ODIs is a myth.
    He has fallen for low scores time and time again.
    And when he does so, he has nothing else special to contribute for the rest of the match.
    That goes against the requirements of a modern ODI team.
    I can only see him as a supersub batsman in ODIs, even that has been scrapped.

    This question I ask is a taboo, almost blasphemous.
    If India does struggle because of a lack of all-rounders,
    I wonder if we will ever raise this question at all?

  2. One egg if India gets into the semis.
    Two eggs if India get into the finals.
    As unlikely as it may sound at this stage –
    what are your plans if India do win the finals??

    Honestly, I think India has a good chance of making it to the semis.

    It is obviously not a certainty. Only two teams, IMHO, are sure to make it to the semis and they are South Africa and Australia. For every other team – It is a question is of Who blinks first and who looses rather than who wins

    And India may (just *may*) have the edge over other teams here. In any case, it is too early to write India off and I think India’s first three games in the Super8s will basically set the tone for the tournament.

  3. Blogesh, I am not writing India off. I am merely expectation-setting for my own benefit. India is 5th for a reason. And if India wins the finals, I will buy a half-dozen eggs, travel to your house and have you, Sanjay and Vish break/rub/smash said eggs on my face. We can capture said sequence on camera and post it on i3j3!!

  4. Pingback: Rahul Dravid :: The best World Cup batsman India has ever had? « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

  5. Pingback: Beaten « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

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