The one solitary reason why India won't win the 2015 World Cup
India's bowling poses a major problem ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
India have a love affair with men who hold carefully crafted pieces of willow and flail it around like Luke Skywalker does a lightsaber. Well, they love batsmen and Bollywood movie stars. If you are a movie star who also make runs, India is the place to live.
When India's World Cup squad was announced, all focus was naturally on the batsmen. Where is Yuvraj Singh? Surely Virender Sehwag was worth a gamble? Is MS Dhoni up for it?
Ok, there was also talk about Stuart Binny, but it was around the merits of his all-rounder status. Yet the paradox is that in almost every other major nation, the debate focused on the bowling selections.
England - Surely Ben Stokes was the third bowler? Wow, how good do Finn's 125 kph thunderbolts look now. He can even land them on the pitch.
Australia - No Harris? No Lyon? Doherty? The world has gone mad.
Pakistan - Ajmal isn't playing. Hafeez is banned from bowling. Why wasn't Umar Gul picked? Now what?
South Africa - Surely McLaren is better than Behardien? I hope Steyn can be as good as Anderson.
New Zealand - Vettori is playing? How good are Boult and Southee?
West Indies - Will the team even turn up? Do they care?
Sri Lanka - If Herath can ignore all the female attention, we are a chance at winning this thing.
And herein lies India's problem.
As a nation addicted to run makers, they have forgotten that it is the bowlers who win matches; batsmen can merely save them.
The last World Cup held in Australasia, in 1992, was won by Pakistan largely courtesy of their bowlers. Yes, Javed Miandad did score 437 runs at an average over 60, but those runs would've had no meaning if Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed hadn't picked up an impressive 18 and 16 wickets, respectively.
Bowlers, I reiterate, win World Cups. Australia’s success in recent World Cups came on the back of Glenn McGrath & Co. Sri Lanka won in 1996 after having India 8/120 in the semi-final before the crowd decided to take matters into their own hands.
It is understandable that India is still punch drunk after its 2011 win. Yuvraj was named Man-of-the-Tournament. Some will argue that this is definitive proof that batsmen win World Cups. It isn't. It was an anomaly. The 15 wickets he took in that tournament have been quickly forgotten.
Major bowling worries for India ahead of the World Cup
India's batting lineup for 2015 looks strong on paper if the matches were being played in the subcontinent.
However, let's interrogate their bowling.
The squad has three spinners: Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. On the true Australian wickets, none of these bowlers will strike fear into even the worst batsmen. After all, Jadeja averages over 100 in Australia with the white ball, Ashwin averages nearly 45 and Patel has just started.
The Indian pace attack of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Binny haven't fired even once on this current Australian tour. Bhuvneshwar is hamstrung by injury. Yadav, Shami and Binny, meanwhile, will struggle to keep a top-notch side below 300 too often.
Ishant is the one bowler who could do some damage. He, after all, averages an impressive 20.42 after 10 ODI matches in Australia, but, unfortunately, there’s a big question mark over his fitness at the moment.
None of the other quicks average under 56 Down Under. In the recent 4-match Test series, India managed to bowl Australia out on only two of 8 attempts. In the ongoing Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series, Mitchell Starc has taken more wickets than the whole Indian team combined.
India lacking match-winning bowlers
Who is India's last great bowler? Was it Zaheer Khan? Harbhajan Singh? Perhaps, it was an all-rounder in Kapil Dev?
It's not an easy question to answer because India don't produce great bowlers that can dominate the world, irrespective of where they play.
Pakistan, on the other hand, can reel them off aplenty. The likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Saeed Ajmal, Waqar Younis, Wasim and Imran instantly come to mind. So can Australia and South Africa.
England's recent Ashes wins were on the back of Graeme Swann in 2013 and Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Steve Harmison in 2005.
The Indian cricket culture worships run makers. Until this changes and they bow down to guys that can smash down the stumps and find the edge, Indian cricket will never rise to the top outside of when playing at home.
So, what is the one sole solitary reason that India can't win the upcoming 2015 World Cup?
It has no bowlers.