An emphatic performance in the Asia Cup followed by a dominant show with the willow against Australia placed the Indian team in good headspace going into the World Cup but problems remain when it comes to zeroing in on the ideal playing XI. India begin their campaign against Australia on October 8 in Chennai.
Here’s the SWOT analysis.
Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this batting line-up is the best India have had since the historic batch of 2011.
A line-up comprising Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya is as formidable as it gets. And there will be Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in the dug-out in case there is requirement to replace anyone.
India haven’t had such a galaxy of stars in one line-up for the longest time. And with most batters hitting the straps at the right time, the fans could be in for a run-feast on flat batting decks, which are expected to be on offer.
Gill’s ODI form, with more than 1200 plus runs in past one year, has been the biggest plus and he didn’t let the team feel the absence of a player of Shikhar Dhawan’s calibre.
Even more heartening is KL Rahul’s full fitness, and the hundred against Pakistan in Asia Cup, which has been the biggest gain ahead of World Cup.
The spin bowling department might be looking good on paper but there is no way to judge how the two veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will perform on the tracks that will be heavily loaded in favour of batters.
Axar Patel’s injury might have given India a chance to get a right-arm finger spinner in but dropping Yuzvendra Chahal, after carrying him in 50-over cricket for a better part of last one year, and selecting three left-arm spinners does speak a lot about the lack of options.
Going by form, Kuldeep Yadav is expected to feature in every playing XI unless he suddenly loses his touch or there is an injury.
Ashwin’s presence on Indian tracks might cheer many but truth remains that on good decks, he has had a tendency of struggling. Yet, for some teams like Australia, Ashwin plays with the minds of batters and that’s his advantage.
In case of Jadeja, he is still a good bowler on helpful tracks but on flat decks, he could go for plenty. Also, both Jadeja and Ashwin are competent Test batters, but the former lost a bit of mojo when it comes to batting in ODIs, if one looks at his current strike-rate. Ashwin also isn’t a consistent power-hitter.
Home advantage is a reality even if it’s an ICC event where the global body’s curators are always doing a recce of various venues and conditions.
In these conditions, Rohit Sharma will have the perfect setting and best chance of winning the World Cup.
There will be heavy dew in some of the venues and if it comes down to chasing totals, there is no country like India which would make every other team have sleepless nights.
At the end of the day, the Indian team has chase master Virat Kohli in its ranks who is breathing down Sachin Tendulkar’s neck with 47 ODI hundreds, and needs three more to get past India’s greatest ever batter.
At times, too many options aren’t a good thing to have and that could be a problem for the team going into the tournament.
While the bowling attack would certainly be tweaked a bit looking at surfaces, Shreyas Iyer getting the likely nod above Ishan Kishan isn’t the most easiest of decisions.
Kishan has performed whatever role has been assigned to him by the team management but now it seems that he might have to sit out as KL Rahul is set to keep wickets and bat at No.5.
Dropping Kishan also means that the only viable left-handed option in the top five is done away with and there would be no variation in the top-order in terms of making opposition bowlers think about changing the line of attack for every second delivery.
Hopefully, India can get the top-order combination right unlike last time when, despite a semi-final appearance, the No.4 batting slot was a complete mess.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)