by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Will India win the ICC World Cup or be left out on WC


All they had to do was announce the team for the ICC Cricket World Cup to start the bickering.  Reading through, there is little doubt that all comments were made on the hope that someone else’s arguments would convince that the best team was, indeed, selected. :-)

When someone criticizes selection of Piyush Chawla over Pragyan Ojha, no doubt he is asking to be assuaged about the ‘why’ and not hear more laments like his own.

Similarly, when someone laments the exclusion of Rohit Sharma or Sreesanth, they are plaintively crying out for assurance that better players have replaced them.

Now, let us set such sentiments aside and take a good, hard look at the situation.  To do that, we are going to look at the the Indian team, current forms of teams, track records of teams, and the playing conditions.

Playing conditions:

All matches are going to be played in the sub-continent and hence we can expect knee height bounce, pretty slow wickets and not shoulder high bouncers or seam & swing, like in The Ashes or in South Africa recently. 
There is also reason to suspect that the pitches would NOT be made ‘especially’ spinner friendly, since England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have good spinners who can run through any opposition under such conditions.  The BCCI must also be vary of repeating the fiasco of 1996 World Cup semi-final.

The only help the bowlers may or may not get will be the dew factor, as most matches are Day/Night fixtures.  Whether the dew factor will help or hinder will again depend upon the situation of the match.  If spinners are operating, and the runs-to-get is small, the bowling team will rue their luck.  If the bowling team is pacer heavy at ‘that’ time with many runs-to-get, reverse swing might put the batting team in trouble - especially if there had earlier been a top order collapse.

Track record in the sub-continent:

This is the most important factor which is going to affect the finalists line-up.  The stats for the last 5 years from 18 Jan 2007 till date are :
(excluding abandoned, cancelled, no-results and between combined teams like Asian IX vs African XI).

In India: Total matches played : 42
India won 28 of 42 matches - 66% - with the opponents -
  • Australia 8 of 13 - 61%;
  • South Africa 1 of 3 - 66%;
  • Pakistan 2 of 5 - 40%;
  • Sri Lanka 2 of 7 - 28%;
  • West Indies 1 of 4 - 25%;  and
  • New Zealand 0 of 5
In Sri Lanka:  Total matches played : 40
Sri Lanka won 19 of 34 - 55% - with opponents -
  • India 10 of 17 - 58%;
  • England 3 of 5 - 60%;
  • Pakistan 2 of 6 - 33%; and
  • Bangladesh 0 of 4 and New Zealand 0 of 2
  • 6 matches involved 3rd teams;
    • Bangladesh won 0 of 2 (vs. India & Pakistan);
    • India won 2 of 3 vs. New Zealand; &
    • India won 1 of 1 vs. Pakistan
As we can see, the teams which top 50% or more wins are India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and England.  The fight is going to be in between these giants with Bangladesh and Pakistan capable of springing a surprise or two.  And whoever of these gets surprised by Bangladesh/Pakistan will not make it to the semis.

BTW the stats have been collected from cricinfo and the google docs spreadsheets are here
India-in-India - in-in-in
India-in-Sri Lanka - in-in-sl

Current Form of Teams:
The current form of these 5 teams are almost the same as reflected in the above stats.  The Aussies are still a formidable One Day International (ODI) team;  most of their test debacle is (not ?) being blamed on their emphasis on Twenty20 (T20) form in domestic cricket.  While T20 is not exactly ODI, can there be any doubt that a brilliant T20 batsman or bowler can be effective in ODIs?  Maybe they might not win matches on their own, but a couple of them combining in one ODI would pocket the game for their team.

The English can bask in their Ashes glory, but their World Cup woes are going to be exposed in their current 7 match ODI series in Australia.  There is a feeling that by the end of the series, it is going to be a battered England, which turns up for the World Cup.

The present Sri Lanka can give a run for their money, but don’t appear to be world beaters.  And whatever happens in South Africa, the Proteas can be expected to ‘stumble’- no comments by me - enough has been said by Dhoni.  The Pakitanis are at the lowest confidence level ever; but as is well known, they are the most unpredictable team ever.
;-)
which leaves us with the

Team India:

To cut to the chase without any long explanations - 

Going in with one wicket keeper is going to cost India dear - Raina or Kohli aren’t good enough behind the stumps at a World Cup.

No all-rounders (except the half-rounder Yusuf Pathan) is going to show up in a couple of games, when the top order fails; as it invariably does on occasions.  The only thing to hope is that such top order collapse occurs earlier in the tournament, in round-robin games, and not in knock-out stages.

Of all the players only Tendulkar seems solid. 
  • Sehwag’s death wish to flash-without-a-care outside the off stump;
  • Gambhir’s tendency to fall over to in-swingers;
  • Yuvraj’s poor form and fondness for run outs;
  • Raina’s weakness against short pitched deliveries;
  • Dhoni’s oft seen dilemma whether to hold or to hit out;
  • Yusuf Pathan’s batting inconsistency;
  • Harbajan's penchant to spin the ball only on ‘friendly’ wickets;
  • Nehra’s spray rather than bowl tendency - the worst since Agarkar;
  • Pravin Kumar’s lolly-pop half-volleys under some conditions;
  • Piyush Chawla, the laughing-stock, who will-not-get-a-game
are all concerns for this team. 

Add the injury scare - it is not easy to figure out how to pull the ‘injury-stats’ from cricinfo - but if memory is right, all of the players (except Chawla, Ashwin and Kohli) have broken down during the last one year.  And all of those injuries have been described as ‘niggling’ - meaning there is a question whether they have been completely cured and can pop up anytime.

The lynchpins in the team will be Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Sachin Tendulkar who seem solid in the 15.  Ashwin and Virat Kohli are still untried in big-time-crunch situations - unlike a T20, where one single burst over 4 or 8 overs with bat or ball can win a match, to win an ODI needs sustained effort.  At least two efforts of 8 overs with the ball and bat at crucial times are necessary to win an ODI - more so in big-time arena like the World Cup.

‘Af'ter-Dhoni-who?’ factor is another major worry for this team.  If Dhoni is injured, India will be short of not only quality wicket keeper, but also the Captain Cool and can kiss the World Cup hopes goodbye!

Ooohhhh!  What a long post!
Reposted on 19th Jan, with links to spreadsheets and credit to cricinfo.

2 comments:

  1. WOW!!!! That was nice to read.... Excellent collection of info.... I like the point which u hav mentioned abt sachin... Yes, he seems to b solid for the past 1year... The comment abt nehra is very good(its a fact too).... I also hope dhoni will kiss the world cup as u said.... Let us wait nd watch.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. ^
    thanx. keeping fingers crossed

    ReplyDelete

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