Every World Cup brings a tinge of excitement with it. Particularly in India where the promotions begin at least three months earlier, the whole country is drawn into frenzy. During this period we are reminded very often of the 1983 triumph. And also of the fact that we have not won since then.
To be fair, apart from 1987, we never had a good enough team. If Kapil had kept his head in 1987, India would have probably won the Reliance Cup but that was not to happen. In 2003 we went with a make shift keeper and batting line up in terrible form. The brilliance of Tendulkar, the presence of India’s finest pace attack and the toughness of Wright and Ganguly ensured that the team exceeded all expectations and reached the final. In all other editions it was the heart rather than the head which believed that the Cup could be won.
This time though it is the head and the heart which says that India should win the Cup. India goes into the tournament as unquestionable favorites. The team has had terrific three years where, apart from rising to the dizzy heights of number 1 in the test rankings, the last three years have seen the team win tournaments in Australia, Sri Lanka New Zealand and the West Indies in the one-day version. The batting is strong and settled and generally in the sub-continent strong batting line ups tend to win more one day games.
If there is a cause of concern, it is in the bowling department. India relies too heavily on Zaheer and if he has a bad day, particularly after the league stage, India could be in big trouble.
It will be interesting to see how Sachin Tendulkar fares in this tournament. He had a disastrous 2007 World Cup, largely due to the fact that the team management did not want him to open the batting. But for this edition he will be back opening the batting and he is also probably the best form of his life. The only concern being that he has played only 2 one day internationals in the last two months.
But Tendulkar has always managed to perform at the big stage and it will be a brave man to bet against him being one of the leading batsmen of the tournament. In fact, I would go as fas as to say that inspite of the presence of Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni and Yuvraj, India’s fortunes will largely depend on what kind of a tournament Tendulkar has.
It was the same in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Somethings never change…………