Confident India can retain World Cup due to Champions Trophy success: Duncan Fletcher
India’s head coach Duncan Fletcher has said that India have a great chance to retain the World Cup crown Down Under. The defending champions begin their World Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval on February 15.
"I am very excited, especially given the side we have. I think we are a good chance to win after the way the team has been building over the last three-four years,” Fletcher told in an interview with BCCI TV.
One of the many reasons for Fletcher’s optimism is because of the way the side played in the 2013 Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom (UK) when they weren’t even considered one of the favourites. India didn't lose a single game in the tournament in the lead-up to the final and then beat England in a rain-affected final at Edgbaston.
“A big reason for my belief is our Champions Trophy (2013) victory in England. We played in very foreign conditions that didn't suit the side and yet we played so well that we didn't lose a single match. That shows that the side is used to winning and that's really exciting," he said.
The players have got acclimatised now: Fletcher
He also felt that most of the players have got used to the conditions in Australia now after a gruelling four-match Test series and added that the upcoming tri-series will be the ideal preparation for the mega event that follows.
"Since most of these boys have played in the Test series, they know the conditions well and how each player approaches his game in these conditions. When too many new players come in, it takes time for everyone to get used to their little idiosyncrasies and how they cope in certain situations. But when you know each other's strengths and weaknesses, you are doing away with the learning curve and that gives you a chance to hit the ground running," the Zimbabwean said.
“Playing the Tri-series just before the World Cup is a great idea for us in getting used to how the white ball behaves here. What's more is that we don't play these two sides (Australia and England) in the group stage and this series will be a good chance to have a look at them for the advanced stages of the World Cup, “ he added.
Only four members of the current squad were present when the Men in Blue won the mega event in 2011, but the 66-year-old feels that the present lot of players have played a lot of tournaments together and that will keep them in good stead heading into the event.
“We do want experience. You cannot beat experience. We have played three ICC tournaments in the last three years the ICC World Twenty20 2012-13 and 2014 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. And people will be surprised to see that we have only lost two games in all of which one was the final,” he said.
“That is quite a record to be proud of. And the team in all those tournaments was more or less the same. So, these boys do have the experience when it comes to the big tournaments and they do know how to win them.
“What makes this team special is that over the last few years they have faced all kinds of situations in the limited-overs cricket and have shown they are capable of coming out successfully from all of them. That's why I say that we have a good chance to win this World Cup."
There is very little difference in the group of players that play the longer as well as the shorter format of the game, and Fletcher believes that is a very good thing as it ensures the players stay together for most periods of time.
"It's very important. I truly believe that in these times if your squads are very similar in all three formats, it's a huge advantage," he said.
"The players are together all the time, they know each other's games and the roles they have to play within the team. I've always believed that to play cricket, you need to have certain technical aspects not for the format you're playing but for the game on the whole.”
He further added that this lot knows how to handle pressure situations and has the ability to win when the game goes down to the wire.
“One-day cricket is all about handling extreme pressure when the side is down; understanding where the game is poised at that stage and finding your way out of that situation to end up on the winning side. Our excellent record when chasing totals shows that.
“The team has been led by MS Dhoni's attitude. Most other sides can't do it because under such pressure, you lose your cool, the decision-making becomes cluttered and you lose your way. Because MS is so adept at soaking in the pressure, we have done well in those situations. It is important to be calm and take the game all the way and win with maybe three balls to spare. People might say, 'Oh, they barely got home', but getting home is the most important thing," the former England coach said.
The bowling unit is more confident in the limited-overs format: Fletcher
Fletcher also stressed that India’s bowling attack are a more confident unit in the limited-overs format of the game and expects them to put in a much better performance in coloured clothing.
"As for in the World Cup, we have to remember that when we won the Champions Trophy, the bowlers defended a very, very low total for us and they must be given credit for that,” he said.
“I feel that they are much more confident when they bowl in the one-day game because they have played more amount of limited overs cricket with the ODIs, IPL and T20Is. They have much more experience in the shorter formats as compared to Test cricket and I am sure they will put on a good performance," he added.