Exactly after two weeks to start of much anticipated World Cup in Sub-Continent, tournament is still nicely poised with every team still has more than just a chance to improve on their first fortnight of the mega event, we had some ordinary one sided game, some heart racing thrillers and like always one or two upsets, but irrespective of all these things which had happened in last two weeks, certainly this World Cup has been able to live up to the huge hyper which was not the case last time around in the Caribbean four years ago.
India stepped into the World Cup as clear favorites in every expert’s choice that too with some day light in them and others. With the batting talents they have in bank, they certainly deserved to be favorites. Seven butchers that they have right up to seven, they can easily tear apart any attack, and you have to think hard and long before thinking a better ODI batting line up. Bleeding blue was their motive before the start of show piece event; their batsman had been certainly thumping boundaries like monsoon here in Sub-Continent but bowlers have been bleeding boundaries like massive waves of great Indian Ocean. Bowling was always going to be a problem for men in blue but certainly Indian bowlers would not had have even in worst of night mares that has happened with them. All of sudden, experts have taken one step back in their predictions about India and they being favorites. Biggest problem they are having that they have no bowler to bank on, many might raise eye brows on this statements but that has been the case. Both Harbajan and Zaheer are over rated bowlers in ODIs, every one talk about them as if India have a McGrath and Warne in their team. Matter of fact is that teams milk Zaheer to 6 to 7 runs per over easily though the produces one or two unplayable deliveries in 10 overs but these one or two balls comes in between the plenty of boundary balls and Harbajan produces one or two match winning spells in a year, other than that spells he too goes for 5 to 6 runs per over easily without many wickets. To me, best bowler in this Indian squad is Ashwin, ironically he has not been given a match. I’m greatly impressed by this lad, he has lovely carom ball, which will not be easy to pick specially for non Sub-Continentals. He brings with him a variety factor in bowling line up, which is missing in this bowling line up, as all others are very one dimensional orthodox bowlers. Adding insult to injury to Indian bowling is using part timers to fill in overs of fifth bowler. Part timers like Yuvi can work in a match or a series but going with them regularly is playing with fire as India found in Bangluru. So what India can do now, best way to go will be playing another bowler in place of batsman, on form it looks as if Yuvi will be making way for that bowler whoever he is, there is not much difference of caliber between them i.e. medium pacers. Certainly, Indian batting is so strong that they can make up for one batter short because everyone in this line up is smoking the ball right up to Harbajan. This will make bowling little better, but expecting a miracle from this bowling line, one has to be living in fool’s paradise. Quick change of tactics is required on the part of Indian think tank, surely batting is their strength and they should their put stronger aspect under pressure to come out in flying colors, so chasing would not be a bad idea either because as I said above hardly one can up with a better batting line up in history of ODI cricket of over 40 years. So they have ability to chase down whatever the opposition puts on board, at the moment this looks the best way of wining for Indians, otherwise even 400 cannot give batsman surety of winning with this bowling.
Worries for India has shown us, how close sides are matched together matched for this World Cup, certainly a most comparative World Cup in modern times in cricket, which should be a great thing for cricket and specially ODIs. Just at the start of a big tournament always some people come up with many doubts about the format, its future, its fan following, these doubts take quite a dent by the end of these tournaments but they keep on coming back but I think this World Cup will surely kick all these doubts to grave once for all because ODIs are here to live.
By Umer Rana