BY Sudipta Biswas
The wait is over, now it is time to tighten your belt and get set ready for June 5 clash between tournament favourites India and South Africa.
India are going to start their 2019 World Cup at Southampton on Wednesday. They have a well-balanced team going into their first match of the quadrennial event and look like a horse of a long race. With a superb away exploits on their back, Team India will look to get off to flying start to keep their domination on cricket going.
Fisto Sports does a SWOT analysis of Team India, leading to the 2019 World Cup.
Also Read: World 2019: Why India are their 1st match playing so late?
India’s strengths are their strong top order batting and the decisive bowling attack, which doesn’t lack variety, unlike previous editions when bowling used to be India’s main concern.
With the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and captain Virat Kohli make India’s top order looking dangerous. These three batsmen are known for their destructive batting, if they click together no bowling attack can stop India from winning matches.
A solid opening wicket partnership from Dhawan and Sharma will definitely put India on top of the game. Kohli at the same time will be expected to continue his ODI swansong and lead India to a new height in this World Cup. Whether India bat first or second they don’t need to worry much as they are capable of setting big or chasing big.
It seems India have also sorted out their No. 4 conundrum as KL Rahul slammed a hundred against Bangladesh in the warm-up match. At this moment, Rahul is arguably India's best bet for No. 4 slot dismissing Vijay Shankar’s chance for grabbing the position.
Depth in the middle order is also a big plus for India. MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja will add solidity to the Indian batting attack.
Indian bowling attack is comprised of five specialist bowlers-Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Over the 2018-19 season Indian bowlers-be it pacers or spinners- proved their worth everywhere- be it home or away conditions.
With pacers and spinners with variety making a reasonable impact at rather batting friendly track of England and Wales grounds the Indian bowling attack, which is being regarded as one of the best in the business, has been rated highly for 2019 World Cup. Hence, Indian bowlers will be expected to put up a great performance in ICC's showpiece event.
All-round abilities of Pandya and Jadeja will provide India a much needed balance in the batting and bowling attack.
Though it is quite tough to point out India’s weakness, former India batsman and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar pointed towards India’s middle order as their weakness. He termed Indian middle order as ‘a soft underbelly’.
With Kedar Jadhav is yet to recover from his shoulder injury and Vijay Shankar has not been in good touch too after picking an injury at the nets, the pressure will be on Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik to take the responsibility.
That extra burden could hurt India as the tournament progress. If Shankar and Jadhav recover well India will not face any such problem.
Though India are starting their campaign late, they have the opportunity to tighten their belt playing top notch opponents South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan early in the tournament.
These teams have the calibre to offer India tough fight, but it is an opportunity for them to lay down a mark against the other title contenders. If India win three or all of their first four matches, then they don’t find themselves in a do-or-die situation later in the round-robin stage.
India are frontrunners for the coveted title, but hosts England, Pakistan and the defending champions, Australia, are their primary threats as they begin the campaign in quest of the third title.
With Bangladesh and Pakistan shattered the predictions beating South Africa and home favourites England you never know what these Asian giants can do on their day.
But taking India’s recent away exploits into consideration it can be said that they are up for the third World Cup title and their second in England.
Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav.
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