The word in Indian cricket’s lexicon should now be “winning”. Enough of experiments. India must aim for at least five wins out of the next seven games ahead of World Cup.
That’s the way to build up for the big event. It’s the same with the West Indies and Sri Lanka. Australia are a prime example of a team that want to win all the games. They are not doing too badly and the message should not be lost on others.
Indian batting now seems to have the right size and shape. Sourav Ganguly’s return has given them a huge edge; the dynamism of a left-hander with the right idea to build an innings is a mega-plus. Rahul Dravid at number five is an invaluable property.
I do feel, though, that at least two out of the top six batters should give you bowling options. Sachin Tendulkar, lately, has shown awareness for the role and I have no doubt Ganguly too would soon step up to the plate. But you need more options and that’s where men like Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Mongia — in case Yuvraj Singh is still not fit — are the need of the hour.
Away from the intense glare, Sehwag, hopefully, would have sorted out his mind and technique with the necessary help that the coach, captain and selectors ought to spare for a very, very key component of India’s campaign. If India are to go the distance in the big event, Sehwag must be kept firmly in sight.
The Delhi dasher stirs up the pot like few do in international cricket. India can’t turn their back on him.
This is the best Indian side to take a shot at the World Cup since 1987 — they are better than the one in 2003 that reached the final in South Africa. They have enough experience and youth in the form of Gambhirs, Kaarthicks, Dhonis and Sreesanths who have no respect for reputations.
The issue of Irfan Pathan is still some way from being settled and that’s a worry. The Ranji Trophy semifinal at Baroda this week could be the final call.
With Zaheer Khan in form, India need Pathan to do well. He could be the reason if India are still alive by the second week of March in the Caribbean. But Pathan without a good bowling arm would be of no use.
We, perhaps, are watching in action two
potential semifinalists of the World Cup with an ability to give Australia a run for their money on a good day.
West Indies are the most improved one-day side and this when the great left-hander still hasn’t come to party.
Brian Lara has been brilliant in Tests but I believe he has much more to offer in ODIs where, if anything, he could be a still more destructive force.
I feel it’s wrong on his part to keep himself languishing at number five in conditions that exist in India, or in the West Indies for that matter. With the ball not doing a lot in this part of the world, Lara needs to be at number four to shift gears that befits the situation.
An area where both the teams need to lift themselves is fielding. There were some lumbering legs and heavy panting as the ball was belted around the park in Nagpur. I believe Cuttack would promote accumulation rather than big hitting and, in this respect, both running between the wickets and swift, accurate throws from the field assume critical importance. It would be a simulated situation that India would confront in the Caribbean.