How long is it before you yearn to return home when you are away on holiday or visiting your in-laws? This is one of the main reasons that Team India will not win. It will be three months by the time they have left home to defend the World Cup. And in the past three months, success has been very hard to come. The other reason is the lack of confidence and venom in the bowling department and the confidence in the openers. In an ODI, a solid start lays the foundation of the game and provides that extra support that a weak bowling needs in order to defend a game.
Do I need to provide supporting evidence for the above comments? For some of the hard core emotional fans, maybe, but for the logical and practical followers, maybe not. This article is especially for those die-hards who are confident that India will reach at least the semis.
Except MS Dhoni, I am struggling to name one enigmatic player who can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition. Had the World Cup been in India, I would have said "yes" as we have flat-track bullies in ample abundance.
We have forgotten how to play spin. We cannot even play Moeen Ali in English conditions and he is not even a leggie. How are we expected to play Nathan Lyon, Imran Tahir or Sachithra Senanayake? I understand that this is a young team but then why create so much of a hype that we will reach the semis. Do these analysts really think?
Let me start with the basic issue that we have with our cricket administration. Firstly, too much cricket. Since most of the players play all three formats, how can one sustain the form over a period of three months in a foreign country and expect to perform? Secondly, the role of the supporting staff. What is the measurement of a coach's success, specifically in the area of bowling?
I must admit that our fielding has improved significantly in the outfield but we lack the quality of a Rahul Dravid in the slip cordons. What does it take to have a good slip fielder? Don't keep rotating players in the slip cordon even though they drop a few.
Dhoni by nature is a defensive captain and I feel we have lost our way in terms of a long-term vision for the team.
Will Ravi Shastri, who is generally quite aggressive in the commentary box, have any influence on Dhoni's captaincy? I admit that MSD has achieved all he could for Team India, but does the learning ever stop or the zest for continuous improvement ever cease to exist for high performers?
MSD has always been defensive with Umesh Yadav or his new crop of bowlers. His field settings are based on his intuition rather than what Umesh or Varun Aaron may want.
Would Yuvraj Singh's inclusion have weighed psychologically on the opposition rather than selecting an ineffective Ravindra Jadeja - an MSD favourite - who is flatter through the air and very similar to Axar Patel. With R Ashwin not effective abroad - he will never be - it is down to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma to bring in some semblance of disciplined bowling. Injury to these two will prove very tough for the other bowlers, who don't have much experience, to contain or take 10 wickets against a quality team. Further, part-time bowlers are not expected to play any significant role on these wickets.
What can I say about the batting? Shikhar Dhawan is no Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma is no Sachin Tendulkar and we don't have anybody who can play a Dravid-type role in the team. It is not fair for a team to lean so heavily on Virat Kohli, and probably Ajinkya Rahane, and it is also not fair to compare the others with the awesome foursome yet.
We don't have a genuine all-rounder and it is too much of a burden to expect miracles from the unfavoured Stuart Binny, who just might be the unexpected success. But whether he will ever be a permanent figure in the team is yet to be seen. All-rounders need a decent run and perseverance and the captain's support. It helps that Roger Binny is on the selector's panel.
The opposition has already discovered the technical flaws in our top-order batsmen and, hence, the foundation is already shaky. Can Suresh Raina provide the required support to Dhoni in the middle order?
My prediction and my money for the semis, based on existing form, would be on New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the surprise lot of the pack may be England for a change. Asian countries don't stand a chance beyond the quarters and the West Indies team seems to be in disarray. It will be the last hurrah for the Sri Lankan legends and I personally hope that they bow out on a high.
Out of the minnows, Afghanistan and Ireland are expected to provide some good entertainment but Bangladesh and the Zimbaweans will probably be blown away.
The format of the game, power plays, two new balls in this part of the world and the conditions are best suited to the Anglo-Saxon teams. Australia and South Africa, at least on paper, match each other player-by-player with the Aussies having the upper edge because of home conditions and the aggressive crowd behind them.
I feel the surprise packages in the World Cup will be the Kiwis and the English.
The past performances of Team India prior to every World Cup has been pathetic. So if history has to repeat itself, then we may just be able to surprise a few people.
Although my heart is with Team India, my head says that it will be the Kiwis this time.
I wish the team luck and hope that Dhoni's baby girl changes the team's fortunes Down Under. It will be luck and only luck of the purest form that will bring the World Cup back home.