Ask any Indian fan about their chances and most of them will say that the World Cup trophy is in the bag. They are ranked number 1 (or number 2) and England are chokers so that’s them taken care of. South Africa, their next biggest threat, are chokers too, and as for Australia, since the 2015 World Cup they’ve been going steadily downhill, especially in the past year.
It’s a fair enough thought too. Virat Kohli continues to dominate all forms of international cricket and with the growth of their fast bowling stocks, especially Jasprit Bumrah, they now have a complete unit for the first time in their history, one that was strong enough to win a test series in Australia for the first time in history, after almost 80 years of trying.
Of course, that was without Smith and Warner, and, more recently, Australia won 3 ODIs in a row against India, in India, and, with Smith and Warner back, and both in fantastic form in the IPL, it is a risk.
England will threaten too, being at home and being ranked higher than India, and India would do well not to write off a powerful South African unit. Even the likes of West Indies and New Zealand could threaten too, and, were it not for Pakistan’s inability to ever beat India in a World Cup match, we might consider Pakistan a chance too.
The first XI are settled and it was only really a question of which 4 players are there to carry drinks. Rishabh Pant was a bit unlucky not to make the cut, but he was never likely to play a game even if he did get picked, so it’s only a question of whether he carries the drinks or gets to sit in the stands.
India are going to threaten and, like England, they are a chance to go through the entire tournament unbeaten. The biggest problem for India is their over-reliance on Virat Kohli, who is just about Sachin Tendulkar version 2.0. If Kohli fails then India tends to do badly, not that the other players are not good so much as they are so used to Kohli doing well that they don’t know what to do when he fails. The good thing for India is that Virat Kohli almost never fails.
India are going to be confident, arrogant and aggressive and some of their matches are going to be very one-sided as they do not want to give oppositions even the slightest chance. The problem with India is that if they fall behind they can struggle to come back, and it is fairly unlikely that they will go unbeaten.
Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Virat Kohli will be the tournament’s leading run scorer:
It’s a big prediction but he is that good and he is in that kind of form. He is going to get some big centuries, maybe even 150s, and help India to get to some ridiculously big scores.
(2) India are going to score 400 at least once, if not twice:
Against sides with weaker bowling line-ups or in helpful conditions, expect India to go big, real big.
(3) Rohit Sharma is going to score a double century:
He already has a few, and I am picking him to get another one.
(4) India are going to make the semi-finals:
They might even go unbeaten at the group stages.
(5) India are going to lose their semi-final match:
I don’t think it matters who they are up against, but once they get to a semi-final, the pressure will be much bigger and I expect them to crumble.
My predicted finish: Losing semi-finalists (6-3 record)
Best opponents: Afghanistan, Sri Lanka
Worst opponents: England, Australia
India is officially 2nd favourites to win the tournament but I think more realistically they should be 4th favourites. They are a chance to win, but there are a few too many reasons why they won’t.