Cricket Article

World Cup 2019 Preview: Can India Live up to Their Top Billing?

World Cup 2019 Preview: Can India Live up to Their Top Billing? Photo: TT
India are one of the favourites to win the 2019 World Cup

India have won the World Cup twice, in 1983, as perennial underdogs under the leadership and guidance of Kapil Dev, and in 2011, as tournament favourite under the captaincy of MS Dhoni who led probably their most complete team. This year the men in blue head to England & Wales ranked second in the ICC Cricket Rankings, and are one of two overwhelming favourites alongside hosts England to lift the World Cup.

Preparations began for the World Cup in 2017, a series win at home against England was followed by the ICC Champions Trophy held in England & Wales, India favourites to win it and made it to the finals with ease after topping their group and beating Bangladesh by 9 wickets in the semi-finals.

In the finals they were faced with a familiar foe, arch rivals Pakistan, who would cause a massive upset by bowling out India in 30 overs to register a 180 run victory, the largest margin of victory in any ICC ODI tournament final. A minor hiccup if seen as a one of match, but the disappointment was bitter due to the circumstances.

Great teams bounce back quick and strong and India were no exceptions, they won every series played in the calendar year with victories against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.

2018 followed a similar trend with India racking up the wins, a series defeat in England was the only blemish in a year where they won series’ against South Africa and West Indies in addition to the Asia Cup beating Bangladesh in the final.

India would continue their dominance in to 2019 with series victories away to Australia and New Zealand but just before the final preparations were completed they unexpectedly lost a five-match series at home to Australia after taking a two-nil lead, perhaps the dominance of the preceding years had lulled the Indians in to a fall sense of security.

The Indian squad announced for the World Cup is extremely strong, the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan is tried a tested partnership, boasting a batting average of 47.4 and 44.6 respectively.

In captain Virat Kohli they’ve got undoubtedly the best batman in the world; Kedar Jadav and MS Dhoni are both fantastic finishers with the later’s experience and calmness proving invaluable to the team on countless occasions, many believe he is the true leader of the team.

Hardik Pandya is the wildcard, capable of winning any match with both bat and ball and the bowling lineup boasts considerable pedigree in both pace and spin departments with Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal among a few others.

On the flip side, the selectors have come under some scrutiny for what many believe is too safe a squad, there is no surprise factor, no invention, a complacent group with majority of the players already guaranteed their place in the squad.

Questions have also been asked of Kohli’s ability to lead the side, but MS Dhoni can’t be captain forever and it his probably his success as captain that puts Kohli under such a microscope.

Quite frankly all of India’s problems are seen through a microscope as is the case when a side is so formidable. It is probably wisest to stick with something that isn’t broken at this stage especially when, barring any accidents, If India are on their game it will be virtually impossible for any team to stop the men in blue from lifting their third World Cup.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Betting Odds:

India to win: 4/1

Rajeev mcallister
Sports Pundit staff writer

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