Why India will probably have to give the World Cup back #WontGiveItBack

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
With less than a fortnight to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to start, there really is no way to avoid discussions on India's chances at the World Cup. Having watched their recently concluded tour of Australia and even 2014's tour of New Zealand, it is really hard to be optimistic, I must say.

Going in as the underdogs and with minimal chances may bring out the cornered tiger in some teams (Imran's 92 WC team) but it would take quite a leap of faith to see the present Indian squad replicating that level of magic. Here are my reasons why - hashtags aside - we may have to give the World Cup back this year.

  • Dhoni is faced with the sad reality that he cannot be the finisher we want anymore, simply because even though he bats at 6, he knows there is not much batting below him to follow should he fail.
  • We are one of the few teams that toured both the host nations in 2014... we did not win a single match in 4 months and 3 formats.
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  • The best teams enjoy the benefit of having some really consistent big hitters coming in at spots like 7 and 8 - Luke Ronchi & Corey Anderson for New Zealand, Haddin & James Faulkner for Australia, that young boy Shahid Afridi for the tumultuous Pakistan, Sammy and Russell for the Windies, Buttler for England... every team has something to offer in the hitting arena beyond batsmen number 7. That becomes essential when you need the added boost at the end of your innings to carry you from a good score to a great score. The fact that we could not groom a medium pace all-rounder in the last 4 years (or at least improve the batting skills of our tail enders!) is scary and speaks of a genuine lack of depth in a country obsessed with the sport.
  • The pacers themselves barely evoke images of fear - Bhuvi has slowed down considerably which is worrying. He's now become another variation of Binny, which begs the question - can we have a team with both of them in it, bowling high 120s? Shami and Yadav have the pace but are inconsistent which is sad because I thought they would do a lot better on these tracks. 
  • With the new fielding rules all favouring the batsmen, it becomes essential to have 5 genuine bowlers to avoid getting mauled. And yet, even at the end of the recent tri-series, we have not settled upon our bowling combination. Well, I guess I am being unfair... after all, we have not settled on our opening batting combination or our number 3 and 4 position either! Dhawan is hardly inspiring confidence and becomes a major liability if he goes in the first over itself, ending his role in the game for the remaining 99 overs! Raina being inconsistent is something that does not aid the cause either. It effectively leaves us looking at Rohit Sharma, Rahane and Kohli alone to carry us through every match. Pressure much?
  • What really will hurt us is that none of our batsmen can bowl and none of our bowlers can bat. We don't have a Shane Watson, Moeen Ali or Kane Williamson who can consistently give us 7-8 overs as a bowler in addition to being a genuine batsman.  That means that Dhoni at 6 basically splits the team of 5 batsman above and 5 bowlers below, which is hardly reassuring. 
If you ask me, I would say that the #WontGiveItBack hashtag is going to come back to bite us in the butt by the end of this month. Nonetheless, we do need to go out there with a team, don't we?
Image source: here

    If I had to choose a team, this would probably be my 11:
    R Sharma, A Rahane, V Kohli, A Rayadu, S Raina, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, S Binny, M Shami, I Sharma, U Yadav. 

    A World Cup winning team? Probably not, but at least we can compete. Ashwin and Binny could at least provide some support to a top order batsman in the event of a collapse though they may not clear too many boundaries. Then again, in Australia, there is always space for twos on those fields so do you really need to go over the top, I wonder?

    Anyway, what about you all? Surely you have some thoughts on our World Cup prospects? Am I being a gloomy guss and do we actually have it in us to retain the cup? What would your playing 11 be like? Select 11 from the list below and vote. I am eager to see what the others here think.

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