It is year 2015 and for the ardent Indian cricket fans, this means only one thing: The ICC Cricket World Cup is back and this time will be played in Australia-New Zealand starting on 13 of February.
The defending champions India are grouped along with other powerhouses like South Africa, Pakistan and the unpredictable West Indies and are more or less assured of a place in Quarter finals. India is scheduled to start their title defense, by playing against arch rivals Pakistan in their first game on February 15
Will India manage to defend the title they won so grandiosely at home in 2011? Do they have the players? Lets go through the list of players likely to be selected on 6 of January to represent India at the World Cup.
1) MS Dhoni: He is probably one of the best ODI finisher world has ever seen. His contribution as a wicketkeeper batsman will once again be the key to India’s success down under. Although questions were always raised about his captaincy in Test cricket, ODI cricket is altogether a different game and the most experienced captain in the present-day world cricket should feel at home captaining India at the World Cup.
2) Virat Kohli: The deputy for MS Dhoni and with a pedigree of one of the best ODI players among current crop, Virat will be the most important player for this Indian team in the world cup. His batting success will determine if India manages to go deep into the tournament.
3) Ajinkya Rahane: He has recently carried over his riches from the test cricket into ODI cricket. His revelation in England as an opener had booked him a place at this world cup. With his compact technique and shot making ability, he should definitely open the innings for India.
4) Rohit Sharma: Although he did not yet manage to find his feel at Test cricket, Rohit has managed to achieve stellar success at the ODI level. With two double centuries in this format, he adds lot of power and class to Indian batting. He is expected to open with Rahane come the first match of the world cup.
5) Suresh Raina: A critical cog in the Indian ODI machine. His power packed innings usually change the course of the games and he is expected to play a key role along with MS in providing the critical finishing touches to the innings.
6) Ambati Rayudu: His batting in England showed glimpses of his overall ability and will play in the middle order. Although a suspect against short ball, his shot making ability and his skills as a backup wicket keeper will push him ahead of rest of contenders in the field.
7) R.Ashwin: One of the top ODI bowlers, he is expected to take the mantle of bowling in power play and also play a key role in being economical and pick up critical wickets.
8) Bhuvneshwar Kumar: He has been probably the best ODI bowlers India have recently produced. His skill set includes swinging the new ball and getting vital breakthroughs early in the Innings. India will be hoping that he completely recovers from the recently sustained injury and will be in top form for the world cup.
9) Mohammed Shami: Although success has eluded him to a greater extent in test cricket, his ODI form has been decent of late. Apart from his new ball skills, India has been training him as a death-bowling expert and how he finishes the innings will be crucial for India.
10) Ishant Sharma: His experience in the international cricket and his bowling experience on the Aussie wickets will book him a place in the world cup. This could be the redemption time for the lanky bowler from Delhi and his performances in this world cup will make or break his ODI career.
11) Umesh Yadav: He and Varun Aaron will be fighting for the last available fast bowler spot. He gets my nod ahead of Aaron because of his ability to swing the new ball and bowl better yorkers with the old ball.
12) Ravindra Jadeja: Sir Jadeja will play the vital all rounder roles in the team and one hopes he recovers from his injury on time. His ability not only as a bowler but also as a batsman and particularly as a fielder brings a lot to the Men in blue.
13) Akshar Patel: His recent performances with the Indian team should get him selected for the World cup. He will play second fiddle to Jadeja and will be ready to replace him the playing XI if Jaddu loses his form or is unfit.
14) Shikhar Dhawan: His test form has been in decline and his ODI performances outside India lack consistency. He will still make it into the world cup squad but depending on the form of other two openers might end up warming the benches. He will be extensively trialled in the upcoming ODI tri series in Australia.
15) Stuart Binny: He will be the compromise selection between a fast bowler and a genuine batsman. With the matches also supposed to be held in New Zealand where the ball does more, he might come into play. But one expects him to mostly warm the bench during the world cup.
Although these are my 15 players for the world cup, I have a strong feeling that it will a tight match up between Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Stuart Binny, with only two of them making it into the final squad.
Don’t be very surprised to see Yuvraj Singh , who has been in a blistering form back home, if Jadeja doesn’t recover from his injury on time.
My prediction for this team is that they will at least make it to the semi finals and with a bit of luck can go all the way. It is not an overstatement to say that they are one of the favorites for the world cup, especially considering the form they have recently shown in the ICC global tournaments.