ICL: Indian Cricket League

Batting holds the key to Indian Wordl Cup fortunes


If India manage to match their last World Cup runners-up finish in the latest edition in the Caribbean, it will be considered a big achievement considering their horror story in 2006.

India have been experimenting with their batting order ever since Australian Greg Chappell took over as coach in 2005, but have yet to hit upon a winning combination. Fans began to lose faith in the team which tasted failure at home as well as abroad last year in spite of the presence of exciting stroke-makers in Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Dhoni.

However, in spite of the pains of 2006, there are signs that things are on the upturn with a 2-1 series win over Sri Lanka this month which saw former skipper Sourav Ganguly making three impressive half-centuries.

Chappell, also a former Australian Test captain, has said in a recent interview that a semifinal berth is a reasonable ambition and beyond that the World Cup is anybody’s tournament. Rahul Dravid’s Indians will require luck as well as pluck to leave a mark in the mega one-day event as little went right for them in 2006.

The New Year began well when they thrashed an under-strength West Indies side 3-1 in a home series in January, but the triumph still failed to iron out all of their flaws. India’s problems begin when their strength — batting — deserts them. This was precisely what happened with them last year.

Opener Sehwag’s form was a major cause of concern as he could manage just 254 runs in 14 matches before he was axed for the West Indies series. His presence is vital to the team’s balance because specialist opener Tendulkar was asked to bat in the middle order in the twin series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka ahead of the World Cup.

Ganguly’s triumphant return to India’s colours augurs well because the stylish left-hander has given his team an option to try out a different opener in recent matches. Ganguly hammered an impressive 98 against the West Indies in January 2007 in his first match in 16 months to remind the selectors his sun had not yet set.

The stylish southpaw had fallen out of selectors’ favour after a public spat with the coach and was forced to play domestic cricket before returning to the Indian squad. Things started looking up when Tendulkar hammered a 76-ball hundred in the fourth and final one-dayer against the West Indies at Vadodara in January this year after months of silence.

India’s bowling was inconsistent last year, with left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan’s form being a major worry. He kept losing confidence with each mediocre performance before being dropped for a couple of matches.

India have yet to decide whether to include both spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the playing eleven or go with an extra batsman. But there is no denying the fact the batting holds the key to their fortunes. India were the champions in 1983, runners-up in 2003 and semifinalists in 1987 and 1996.
Source:The News

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