It is easy to understand what must be running through MS Dhoni’s mind. He has achieved many accomplishments in the last three years at the helm. Yet, as the World Cup 2011 beckons, the anxiety and despair among fans are similar to when India crashed out of the World Cup in the Caribbean four years ago.
Dhoni took over as India’s ODI captain in late 2007. He promised to ring in changes, gambled with young talent and charted a completely new course for Indian cricket.
India seemed poised to break from the old and herald in the new. The transitional phase was well and truly set in motion. Three years down the line, it would appear that India’s 2011 World Cup campaign is still hugely dependent on the sturdy shoulders of Sachin, Zaheer and Harbhajan.
Young talent such as Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma still struggle for consistency while the entire pace battery of RP Singh, Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth lie in waste.
A lot has been invested in the pacers. They can’t be allowed to go to waste. So, Indian cricket is again at a crossroads going into the Asia Cup. The ability of India’s young batsmen against short-pitched stuff is being questioned. India’s pace attack is too fragile and Harbhajan needs good support.
Easier said than done though.
Tendulkar is still missing, Sehwag ought to be rusty and Yuvraj is missing. There is more burden on everyone and they must respond with vigour. Neither Sri Lanka nor Pakistan will be pushovers. Pakistan, in particular, have a bowling arsenal to envy. They remain a nation that produces world-class bowlers.
Sri Lanka will miss Sanath Jayasuriya but a lot of young talent has come to the fore in recent months. The Asia Cup will provide a riveting roadmap to what lies ahead for Indian cricket in the months leading up to the World Cup.