India will definitely have a huge advantage in the world cup, however, they will have the biggest disadvantage of playing in front of their own fans. In India, the crowds will put a lot of pressure on the Indian team and they need to overcome that apart from the opposition.
They do have a very good team. You need to have one or two good all-rounders and two really good spinners if you are going to win the tournament at home. Honestly, though, I don’t know whether India has two proper spinners. They have good all-rounders, who happen to be spinners but I can’t see a proper spinner in this side. On Indian pitches, they need a strong group of spinners. If not, it would be a disadvantage for India.
Of course, there is Kuldeep Yadav, he can be a match-winner as he showed against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup. He is pretty clever from what I see, especially when it comes to using the variations. But you need one more to support him who could contain and attack because teams will try to target him and unsettle. Especially when you play against England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, sometimes you might have to play 3 spinners without affecting the balance of the team. And India doesn’t have a batsman who can bowl. Jadeja who bowls, bats at No 7.
You take Pakistan and England, they have proper spinners. So that is something I’m sure India will address before the World Cup. They are looking more at the all-rounders like Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, but I personally feel that they should have someone like R Ashwin in the squad, if not in the XI. When he plays, he can be a match-winner for you. He may be slightly older, he might be slightly slow on the field, but you need guys in the sub-continent who can contain and can take wickets. Sides that want to win most of the games, they do so by taking wickets and for that you need to have a balanced all-round attack. If someone like Anil Kumble is in that side then I will tag them as firm favourites, but they have a problem to address with their spinners. I’m sure they must be looking at it. They must have a different idea, but for me, Ashwin should be playing because the attack looks incomplete without an off-spinner. They have a very strong batting line-up with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul being the backbones.
In my team, I’d Aravinda batting at No 4 and getting wickets in the middle overs. I can’t see anyone like that in this Indian team. Earlier, you had Virender Sehwag who was a very good off-spinner. There was Sachin Tendulkar, but none in this team. Top order batsman who can’t bowl can be a big disadvantage in big tournaments where you need to keep an eye on the balance of the team. Yes, Jadeja is there as a proper all-rounder batting at No 7, but in my opinion you can’t consider him as a top-order batsman. It’s a tournament happening in the subcontinent and you need batsmen who can bowl and bowlers who can bat. Now that is something which is missing for India.
India will do well, mainly because of the fast bowling attack they have. Someone like Mohammed Shami staying out (of Asia Cup games) shows the quality they have in their ranks. So overall, I feel India has one of the best fast bowling attacks.
To win a World Cup, it all comes down to planning. Take the 1996 World Cup. By the time we reached the World Cup, we were planning it for about 2-3 years. So we build a side, we identified whom we should be playing, especially in the Asian sub-continent. And the players we identified, we picked ones who will give us 100 per cent. If you take the 96’ side apart from Aravinda de Silva, all the others were coming up and were hungry to perform. Even Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralidharan, Chaminda Vass were all relatively new. But they were so committed for the country, so they were more keen on contributing and keen on winning games rather than looking at their own individual things. And then after 96, we still had a very good side then in 1999, but we had a very bad World Cup. By the time Sanath took over we had a proper team again because you have about five guys who could replace me. So there was no vacuum. And it is all about building a team and giving it to the next guy. Even if you win the World Cup, pass it to the other.
Ridhi Dogra says it’s ‘unfortunate to play’ Shah Rukh Khan’s mother in Jawan: ‘He told me many times…’
‘Selling a false dream’: Indian students abroad open up about mental health issues
A World Cup in India is a totally different story because you will come across varied conditions from venue to venue. In such conditions, all the sub-continent teams are in with a chance in every game. Even Bangladesh and Afghanistan have potential to do well.
My heart says Sri Lanka has to make the semifinals. With the talent this team has, if we pick the right players and back them, we can upset some of the top countries. And then there are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan: they are the most unpredictable teams. They can upset any one on any day, but are inconsistent.
When it comes to the last four, I will put England first into the semifinals because Ben Stokes coming into the team is a huge boost for them. With Kane Williamson returning, New Zealand will feel further strengthened and in World Cups, you can never look past them. Despite minor issues with their spinners, I put India also in the semifinals because they know the conditions better than anyone else. And then there will be Australia as well because they seem to be playing well of late. These are the four teams I see who can be consistent. Even if they lose one match, they can come back and win two. This is going to be a very closely fought World Cup.