ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: First fortnight would be key for India
As Virat Kohli-led India embarks on the quest to conquer the World Cup, the first logical step would be to plan for a top-four finish.
London: As Virat Kohli-led India embarks on the quest to conquer the World Cup, the first logical step would be to plan for a top-four finish.
Given the fact that only four teams out of 10 will go through and with competition fiercer than ever with not much to separate the sides, a good start to the campaign is imperative.
Perhaps, playing South Africa as their first match of the tournament should be motivating enough for the Men in Blue, who are considered by many as one of the favourites along with England and Australia.
India really needs to be on its toes from the word go, as a gruelling World Cup schedule awaits them.
Given the congested nature of the fixtures, India play their first four matches in space of 11 days. If that looks daunting then read this. India’s first four opponents are South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and arch-rival Pakistan.
Led by the world’s No 1 ranked bowler - Jasprit Bumrah - India’s attack is regarded as their best ever, not just in terms of the pace of Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but the variations of the left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
With four all-rounders, this is a side high on confidence and second in the ICC rankings, just behind the hosts.
Yet, because of their huge diaspora, India regard England as a home away from home.
While India, thanks to Kohli, are now masters of the chase, they are just as adept at setting targets. This means they can unleash Rohit Sharma - when batting first, and Kohli when chasing. As far as the bowling goes, Bumrah’s economy rate of 4.51, Bhuvneshwar’s ability to swing the ball both ways and Kuldeep Yadav’s capacity to fox the best in the business - he took six for 25 at Trent Bridge last summer against England - will be their key weapons.
A good start is half the job done and India will be hoping that they do indeed make a good start when they take on South Africa.