Can India retain the World Cup?

Can India retain the World Cup?

The semi- final maybe

Despite what happened in the recent Tri-series involving Australia, England and India, I think India will fare decently in the World Cup and might make it to the semi-final.

But winning the Cup again?

Though the heart dearly wants that to happen, the head says unlikely. The reason I say this is that I am not sure India has the bowlers to win them games. Batsmen may be glamour boys of the game but bowlers win matches. The best way to slow down scoring rates is to take wickets.

Take almost any World Cup winning side and chances are the best bowlers of the tournament came from the winning side.

Let's just look at hard facts:

In 1983 when India won the World Cup, our bowlers bowled out sides in almost every match. Roger Binny and Madan Lal were among the tournament's highest wicket-takers.

Likewise Craig MacDermott in 1987, Wasim Akram in 1992, Shane Warne in 1996 and Glenn McGrath in 2003 were all instrumental in their sides winning the Cup.

When India won the World Cup again in 2011, Zaheer Khan was the top wicket-taker of the tournament.

The current Indian side may not have the bowling firepower to win the Cup in Australia.

Let's look at our batting line up: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and M.S. Dhoni. Make no mistake. These guys are among the best in the business in limited overs cricket.

But compare it with the batting lineup of 2011 World Cup winning side - a side that had names like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh - see the difference?

Some battles in cricket are won and lost in the mind and names like Sachin, Sehwag and Yuvraj could intimidate the opposition even before a game started!

In fact I think India's batting needs to be bolstered a bit.

Everyone knows how important it is to get off to a good start.

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are excellent limited overs opening batsmen but I still feel Murali Vijay should have been in the side.

He fared very well against the Australian attack in the Test series and he would have been very familiar with the conditions.

So if not India, then who? My money would be on South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in that order.

A.B. De Villiers is the best limited overs batsman in the world. Hashim Amla is full of class and style. Quinton De Kock, Faf Du Plessis, J.P. Duminy, David Miller - each is an outstanding player. Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are match-winning bowlers.

The Australians do not have that strong a side. But they are hugely competitive and home conditions and crowd support are massive advantages.

New Zealand has always threatened in World Cups and it is never easy to beat them in home conditions.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka? They will always will be dark horses - plenty of talent and on their day can do anything - but I just don't think a sub-continental team has enough ammunition to win this Cup.

I would be very surprised if West Indies make it unless Chris Gayle wins it on his own.

England have a good bowling side and they are not to be underestimated.

Here are my four teams for the semi-final: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India.

I think if India does reach the semi-final, then it is a question of having two good days, two good games. At that stage it will be a question of who deals with the pressure better. Let's hope and pray India makes it to the semis and take it from there.

Mohan Subramaniam works with Citibank NRI Business. He is a former All India Radio cricket commentator.

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