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Desicritcs have been running a series of articles where a few very articulate and knowledgable writers have been expressing their views on the chances of all participation nations. I have have had the honour of being able to join these wonderful men and woman.
Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons I have not been able to analyse all the teams, however, I haven't been busy enough to miss the opportunity to express my opinions on my beloved Team India. What follows is my brief preview of India's outlook at cricket's flagship tournament.
Virender Sehwag set out on a very confident tone by declaring, "We are a very balanced lot, have the best openers and wicketkeeper. Our middle order is very strong and we have the best combination of seamers and spinners." Rahul Dravid's utterances have also revolved around "balance" and "confidence".
On the back of this talk, one would be led to believing that the Indians were shoo-ins for the World Champions tag. Don't get me wrong, I think Team India has as good a chance as any of going home with the silverware. However, in my view this World Cup is going to be all about the batsmen who have the grit and gumption to play the waiting game and bowlers who bowl less than express pace but have an uncanny ability to keep nagging away, ball after ball after ball.
For India to get to and past the semi-finals, they will require a reformed and refined Virender Sehwag. I do not believe Irfan Pathan is likely to get a game, unless it is as cover for an injury. In this context, it is crucial that Sehwag fires at the top of the order and gets some crucial wickets in the middle of the innings. All the talk and negativity heaped upon him by Dilip Vengsarkar must be forgotten and a new chapter penned.
The old heads will undoubtedly try their damnedest to ensure a focussed and lethal outfit stays on course. This tournament is ripe for Tendulkar and Ganguly to put everyone else to shame, for one final time as a pair. With generous help from Dravid, somehow, I think they might even manage it.
Someone, or something, needs to get into Harbhajan's head and set it straight. He, along with Sehwag, will be a vital determinant of the ranking that Team India claims at the conclusion of the tournament. Harbhajan needs to get rekindle that fire in his belly and douse the flames that have become ever-present on his frustrated face. Make him watch videos of how he tormented the Aussies in 1998 and 2001, do whatever it takes to awaken him.
This version of Team India has a lot of talent, spirit and fight. They will need to display all these qualities in unison and with intent. I sincerely hope they will win the trophy and I also believe that they have a better chance than most.
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