How can India turn around their fortunes in the world cup
With yet another awful performance with the ball and an equally enduring performance with the bat at the end of the order , the Indian team is suddenly looking like “a horse of a different color”. After playing out all but one match of the group stages, we have realized the ground reality. Unless the team raises its performance , its looking like another disappointment for the more than one billion people of the country. Everyone might be labeling us the favorites but ultimately its the performance and not the paranoia of being good that will win us a match , let alone the world cup. With the loss to South Africa, the Indian team must have realized it by now. Fortunately for the Indian team , all is not lost and although there is a numerical chance of India still missing out the quarter final birth , its very unlikely to happen. Lets look at the few areas Indian team needs to improve in-order to mount a more serious challenge in the upcoming games.
Get the bowling options right :
Indians have now given chances to all the bowlers except Ashwin. With Zaheer the only reliable quicky and Harbhajan the only reliable spinner , Dhoni must have realized that we have only two genuine bowlers who can bail us out. The other bowlers have to rally behind them and if Piyush Chawla can get two chances why not Ashwin ? After all Ashwin and Murali played simultaneously for Chennai Super Kings very successfully and did a great job in tandem despite both being off-spinners. With the next match in Chennai , it will be the last chance for Dhoni and co before the knockouts and giving the home lad , Ashwin a chance will be a good testing exercise.
Give Suresh Raina a chance :
Suresh Raina might not have had a great season last year but he is still a very good hitter of the ball. With most of the Indian batsmen perishing trying to accelerate in the power-plays, it will be a good exercise to give Raina a chance in the last game of the league stage. Raina might just turn out to be the X-factor Indians have been missing in this tournament so far. Having missed out on all the matches of the league, he will be hungry to do well and it will be a welcome breather for the team if he does well.Finally, having a athletic and agile fielder like Raina will also help strengthen the ageing Indian fielding.
Have a more attacking mindset :
Both while defending and chasing targets , India have been rather lacklustre and negative in how they have went about their business. Whether its chasing a 200+ score or defending a 300+ target , India have rarely been convincing. Most of it has to do with Dhoni playing it safe rather than have a more attacking mindset. The teams which win the world cup, win it on their own rather than relying on the opposition to make mistakes. Dhoni certainly needs to be more attacking while setting fields and the Indian batsmen need to be more incisive and positive while chasing. It is to be remembered that India won the T-20 world cup playing a fearless brand of cricket which is sadly missing from the present team.
Get the strategy right :
India have not yet settled on the right strategy to go with. While its a no-brainer that Indian bowling is weak , its really incomprehensible why Indians chose to bat first when they can’t even defend 300+ targets. Going into the knockouts , India should play to their strengths and try to field first whenever possible and back their batsmen to chase any score down. Even if they have to bat first , they need to take the power-play judiciously , which has been their Achilles heel off late. They need to make sure that they don’t lose too many wickets in the power play and try to play according to the situation.
Maintain their nerves :
Both against England and against South Africa , India were in the drivers seat until the 49th over with 14 and 13 runs respectively required of the last over. Sadly they drew one and lost one. This world cup is probably one of the most closely matched tournament since 1999 and matches will be decided by one smart bit of fielding , batting or bowling. With such an infinitesimally small margin of error , its imperative that the team which holds its nerves better, will win it. Also losing close matches doesn’t help the team morale, which takes a big hit. The teams which go on to win the world cup are the ones which peak gradually. Fortunately for India , they haven’t peaked yet and only one match can change the tide in their favor.