Will the cup come home?

- January 31, 2019
| By : Shaunak Ghosh |

The Indian cricket team is on a golden run now, and with the ICC World Cup in England a few months away, here is a look at whether the men in blue can clinch the trophy First Australia and now New Zealand- the Indian cricket team conquered both these countries back to back in consecutive […]

India's cricketers pose with their one-day international series trophy after defeating Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne on January 18, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --

The Indian cricket team is on a golden run now, and with the ICC World Cup in England a few months away, here is a look at whether the men in blue can clinch the trophy

First Australia and now New Zealand- the Indian cricket team conquered both these countries back to back in consecutive tours away from home. They defeated the Aussies in all three formats of the game for the first time in history and won an ODI series against the Black Caps for the first time in their country in 10 years.

With the World Cup scheduled to begin on May 30 — which means just over four months to go — India looks to have gathered some serious momentum heading into the tournament of tournaments. With a set team, and a perfect balance of both batting and bowling, the men in blue are now ranked second in the ICC ODI rankings, 2,000 points above third placed New Zealand.

In the 2015 World Cup in Australia, India managed to clinch a place in the semi-finals but failed to beat hosts Australia and get one step closer to the ultimate prize in the sport. Can they go one step up and manage to clinch the their third World Cup after 1983 and 2011? We analyse the different aspects as to why they just might bring the trophy back home from England.

Captain Kohli

When Virat Kohli was made ODI captain after MS Dhoni stepped down, many believed that he will not be able to carry the mantle. But over the last few years, the man has brought in his aggressive mentality he is known for into the team. No more is India threatened by sledging of opposing teams. We sledge back not just with words but with bat and ball.

The skipper’s bowling changes, field placements at critical junctures of the game are also applaudable. He even has made fitness and diet and integral part of the team setup. That is why there are so few injuries and the fielding seems the best in Indian cricket history.

Even with the bat, Kohli leads from the front. He is the highest ODI run scorer for 2018, and has recently clinched the ICC ODI Player of the year award.

Solid batting
The Indian batting lineup is currently the best in the world. Opening the batting, you have Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, both of whom are in explosive form. While Dhawan provides the quickfire start at the top, Sharma is considered the most gifted batsman in the squad. He has a knack of staying well late into the innings and scoring big.

This is followed by Virat Kohli, who not only is now the best batsman in the world, but never manages to go out of form. He recently entered the 10,000-run club and nine times out of ten will win the game for India if the team is chasing.

Ambati Rayudu at no. four is in top form, followed by the experienced MS Dhoni who has recently rediscovered his form after a Man of the Series performance against Australia in the ODI series. The team bats very deep with Hardik Pandya providing a late flurry of sixes and fours.

The bowling
In Australia it was not the batsman but the bowlers that proved to be the trump card that clinched the series for them. India, never considered a bowling superpower, has suddenly found one of the best pacers and death bowlers in the world right now — that being Jasprit Bumrah. He along with Mohammed Shami and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar form the one of the most feared ODI pace bowling triumvirates in world cricket. On the green pitches in England, the pace unit of India will provide India with a great advantage.

In the spin department too, the men in blue have the right amount of mystery and variation with a leg spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal and a chinaman in Kuldeep Yadav. If Kedar Jadhav is in the playing 11 then he can also tweak in with a few handy overs.
Hardik Pandya will also be the fifth bowler, and prove handy with his all-round skills.

Sharp fielding
This current Indian team is the best fielding side that this country has ever had. There is not a single player in the current squad who is a bad fielder. Players like Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik etc have always been lightning on the field. Even Rohit Sharma with his not-so-lean stature is an amazing fielder.

In recent years, their ability to grab unbelievable catches and athletic fielding has saved a lot of runs for India, and will definitely be an added advantage for the Indian team. Add to that MS Dhoni’s unbelievable skills behind the stumps.

All in all, India look a pretty balanced side. But the most recent tour to England has been nothing short of a disappointment, and that is where the World Cup is being played. Add to that a slight lack of consistency in performance, an example being the match against New Zealand on Thursday where they were bowled out for a mere 92. These are the two worries for the men in blue.

If they can overcome this hurdle, then we might just find Virat Kohli lifting the trophy at Lords on July 14, 2019 — 36 years after Kapil Dev did the same.

The probable Starting XI
Based on their performances and keeping the English conditions in mind, Patriot picks the 11 players that should be the first choice team when the tournament commences in England.

1) Rohit Sharma
Opening the innings, Sharma is considered one of modern one day cricket’s best batsmen in the world. The only player in history to have three individual ODI double hundreds to his name, Sharma scored 1,030 runs in the last calendar year. He also has the ability to hit the ball effortlessly and score big runs by remaining at the crease for a significantly long period of time and is the no. 2 batsman in the world, according to ICC rankings

2) Shikhar Dhawan
Along with Rohit Sharma, Dhawan forms one of the best opening pairs in world cricket. He along with Rohit will form the desired left-right hand combination that all teams so desperately want at the top. In addition to this, Dhawan has also found a new lease of form scoring big runs Down Under. Currently ranked no. 9 in ICC ODI rankings, he has the power and ability to tonk the ball a fair distance with maximum brute force

3) Virat Kohli (C)
There is no team India without Virat Kohli. The current no. 1 batsman in the world, Kohli is the fastest batsman ever to score 10,000 runs and already has 39 hundreds to his name. He can single-handedly win the game for India and is an ideal for no. 3 – the spot reserved in any team for its best batsman.

4) MS Dhoni (wk)
Many believed that at 37 years of age, his days are well behind him and was even left out in the T20 series in Australia. But his performance in the ODI series against Australia proves that MSD still is an important part of the structure of the Indian. He certainly is not the player that he was in his younger days, and that is why he should come at no. four. He can play the sheet anchor role around the lower middle order, and then flourish with big strokes once he has his eye in. His lightning skills behind the stumps gives Team India an added advantage.

5) Dinesh Karthik
Karthik seems to have found a new lease of form since last year ever since his Nidahas trophy heroics against Bangladesh. He is the ideal player for no. five with his ability to find gaps and then switch gears once the situation demands and start hitting balls out of the park. He is an asset to have at the no. 5 position.

6) Kedar Jadhav
This was perhaps the toughest decision – to choose between him and Ambati Rayudu. But Jadhav’s ability to bowl gives him the edge. At no. six is the ideal batsman to have as he has the ability to tonk the ball out of the park and also score quickfire runs. Even when the team loses a few quick wickets at the top he can stand under pressure and score big – case in point is his 96 against England at the Eden Gardens.

7) Hardik Pandya
India’s best all round option at the moment, Pandya just had a torrid time after his Koffee with Karan fiasco. But since his ban has been put on hold for now, hopefully he will start the matches, as he provides the right amount of balance with both bat and ball. In the death overs, he can hit boundaries at will and also chip in 10 overs with the ball with his medium pace. He is a valuable asset to this side.

8) Bhuvaneshwar Kumar
If you want to have an advantage in England, then you have to play Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in your lineup. The conditions in England have always traditionally facilitate swing bowlers, and no one can swing the ball both ways in the Indian team like Kumar does. That is why he will thrive in these conditions.

9) Kuldeep Yadav
Since the conditions in England are friendly for pace bowlers, hence the lone spinner has to be picked, and between Yadav and Chahal, the former makes the cut because he has been in recent times the best ODI spinner for India. Currently no. 3 in the ICC bowler’s rankings, Yadav is perhaps one of the few chinaman bowlers in the world, and his uniqueness is what makes him a wicket taker.

10) Mohammad Shami
With his fiery pace and ability to pick wickets upfront, Shami has been in terrific form of late and is a natural selection for the Indian side. He will thrive in the pace-friendly English conditions

11) Jasprit Bumrah
The no. 1 ODI bowler in the world currently, Jasprit Bumrah is now what Lasith Malinga was 10 years ago. His unusual action, couple with his devastating yorkers and slower balls, he is the best death bowler in the world now and will save a lot of runs once the batsman looks to dispatch the bowlers in the last ten overs.