Even before the 2011 world cup had started, Indians were tipped as one of the favorites to win the title on home soil. They didn’t dissapoint their fans and won the world cup after defeating Sri Lanka in the final, ending an arduous 28 year long wait. But this time things are different. The world cup is being held in Australia and New Zealand. Different conditions altogether. India have played four tests till now and by the time world cup starts, they’d have played quite a few matches in the one day format. However their form has been pathetic to say the least. They lost the Test series down under and are struggling in the tri series, but one can’t just rule them out. Here’s a SWOT analysis of the Indian team and their chances to win the world cup.
Strength : Definitely their batting. The likes of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan may have struggled in the tests, but when it comes to one day cricket they can be lethal at the top. Virat Kohli is in fine form and a lot will depend upon him. He’ll play the role of an anchor through the middle of the innings and can provide the acceleration towards the end. Raina and Dhoni will have the responsibility of providing the finishing touches to the innings by hitting some lusty blows in the end to propel the score to a big total. Both these batsmen have done it plenty of times together, whether they are playing for Chennai or India.
Weakness : The fast bowling has been a major cause of concern in the recent past. Umesh Yadav and M Shami have been pretty inconsistent. They may pick up a few wickets but give away far too many runs. When it comes to swing bowling, apart from Bhuvaneshwar , no one has had the ability to move the bowl around. Even after three full tours to Australia Ishant Sharma still can’t be called a bowling spearhead. Spinners may control the game in the middle, stop the flow of runs, but its the slog overs that have hurt India the most. Dhoni can’t rely on any of the pace bowlers to deliver at the death and most of the times, matches are won or lost on how you perform during the slog overs. For India to defend their title, bowlers have to step up and take the responsibility to perform well under pressure
Opportunities : Apart from Pakistan and South Africa, the rest of the teams in India’s group are comparatively weaker. They shouldn’t have any problems brushing aside the minnows Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe. The top four teams qualify for quarters, so effectively India has to beat the minnows and get one victory against Pakistan , RSA or west Indies to reach quarter finals. Although, the tournament is in Australia, a few grounds like Adelaide can support spin. Dhoni will use his spin trio of Jadeja and Ashwin strategically to stagnate the flow of runs from one end and pick up wickets from the other.
Threats: Indian top order has been vulnerable to good quality swing bowling. If the conditions are helpful, specially in New zealand , bowlers like Dale Steyn, Anderson and Mcglehan can cause a lot of problems for India.
Off late, Indians have been dependent a lot on Kohli. He is the backbone and once he gets out, the whole batting line up tends to collapse.
Indians also need to find a few reliable players for the slip cordon. Dhoni has tried many combinations but there is still lack of consistency. They won’t get too many chances to pick up wickets given the quality of pacers but when they do get an opportunity, they have to make sure that they hang on to it because after all, catches win matches.