After England, India is the second-ranked team in ODI and like the hosts, they are one of the favorites for the upcoming World Cup. In 2015, they came into the tournament as the reigning champions and were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual Champions, Australia. India has managed to win the World Cup twice, the first when they knocked off the West Indies in 1983 and the second in 2011.
Heading into the 2019 World Cup, India has selected a 15-man squad with 7 players who played in the 2015 World Cup. Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan played in the last tournament, as did Kohli, Dhoni with Kohli taking the mantle of captaincy. All-rounder Jadeja was also a part of India's 2015 World Cup squad. Bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammad Shami also went with the Indian squad to Australia.
This time around, with half the squad having an extra 4 years of International experience under their belt, coupled with talented fresh blood like KL Rahul. India seems like they are set in the right position to strike.
However, there are numerous factors that they will have to get past in order to succeed, while India is one of the favorites, they will still have to contend with the top favourites, England, playing on home soil.
This World Cup is likely to be the last for many of India's aging superstars. As Kohli, Sharma, Dhawan, Dhoni, Jadhav, Karthik, and Jadeja are all over 30, and with the exception of Kohli and Jadeja, they will all be at least 36 by the time the 2023 World Cup in India rolls around.
In preparation for the World Cup, India has played a substantial amount of one-day games. Starting from the 2017 Champions Trophy, India have played 59 ODI matches with a record of 45 wins and 11 losses.
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# 3 Why They Won't - Age is catching up on their stars.
When India went to the 2015 World Cup, the majority of their squad was under the age of 30. Only MS Dhoni and Stuart Binny were older and the fact that Dhoni still plays cricket at such a high level is remarkable in itself. However, Dhoni and the other elderly members of the Indian squad are sure to be tested in the tough English conditions.
Unlike in the 2015 World Cup, there are no real easy games and the competition for the semi-final spots could see India be put against bigwigs likes of England, South Africa, and Australia. The single group format and fewer countries mean that there are no games where you can afford to take your foot off the pedal. While 2015 saw India play Ireland, Zimbabwe, and the UAE in the group stages, those teams are not there this time around.
With India opting to rest Dhoni for fitness reasons, questions over whether 'Captain Cool' will be able to handle such an intense schedule will come under question, especially if the Indians require wins to secure a place in the top-4.
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# 3 Why They Will - Best Players in the World
On paper, India probably has one of the strongest squads heading into the World Cup. Virat Kohli remains one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket today, MS Dhoni is one of the fastest thinking glovemen even at his advanced age and their two fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are at the height of their powers.
The Indian batting line-up, when all are fit and firing will be able to go step for step with the English batting from the openers in Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, through to Kohli and Dhoni. Even their all-rounders like Pandya and Jadeja know how to bat when called upon.
They also have a ferocious bowling attack, with the two fast men at the top backed up by spin of Chahal, Yadav, and Jadeja. On top of this, India has quite the selection of back-ups at their disposal, with the likes of KL Rahul likely to be on the team's periphery and can be called up if Dhoni requires a break.
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# 2 Why They Won't - Their Results in England are not Good
India has a formidable record on their home ground. Prior to their home series loss to Australia, the last time they had lost a home ODI series was in 2015 to South Africa and they lost that series 3 games to 2.
However, while their home record has been good, their recent results in England suggest that the local conditions for the World Cup may be problematic for the Indian team. Not only did India lose 2-1 to England last year, but they suffered defeats to Sri Lanka and Pakistan during the Champions Trophy held in England in 2017, although the loss to Pakistan came after they reached the final. Their loss to Sri Lanka in the group stages where they failed to defend 321 is potentially problematic.
Considering how tight the scheduling and how important every game is going to be, India would really not be able to drop points to Sri Lanka, who are generally considered a weaker side coming into this year's competition.
# 2 Why They Will - Well Rounded Team
While England has the strongest batting line up heading into the World Cup, and South Africa has the strongest bowling line up, India seems to have the best combination of everything. Undoubtedly, England's weakness is potentially their underwhelming bowling attack which lacks firepower, while South African batsmen are currently out of form and may struggle to score the totals required to win in the batsman-friendly English conditions.
This isn't the case for the Indian team. Not only do the Indians have a team capable of posting scores between 350 to 400, they also have the bowlers which will restrict other teams to meager totals. This means that if India is able to string a few performances together they will be unstoppable. While India has previously lacked the killer fast paced bowler, Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah have added another dimension to the line-up that Indian fans have not seen since Zaheer Khan.
# 1 Why They Won't - Recent form shows issues
India's last series before the IPL was a 5-game series against Australia at home. India has usually maintained healthy domination at home, usually picking apart teams in the advantageous home conditions. However, after taking a two-nil lead in the series, India completely capitulated in the last three games to lose the series 3-2. Considering that Australia had come off one of the most disastrous years of cricket in the last year starting with "sandpaper-gate" and was Australia's first series win in 2 years.
India's recent ODI statistics are deceptively flattering, with series losses to England and Australia diluted by victories in the Asia Cup and series wins against New Zealand, South Africa, and the West Indies. They also lost their last series in England 2-1 after winning the first game in the series and despite being heavily backed in the 2017 Champions Trophy, the Indians were beaten by Sri Lanka and eventual winner Pakistan.
# 1 Why the Will - Strongest Indian Form Away from Home
A big criticism of the Indian team is that they often failed to travel as well as they performed at home. That is not the case for this Indian team. Aside from the series loss to England, India has notched up several away series victories, including a comprehensive series win against Australia in Australia. This was the first time an Indian team was able to defeat Australia in a home series in their shared history.
Outside of the solitary series loss to England, India has not dropped a single away series since 2016 in Australia and in that time period have played 31 games, winning 24 of them to come out with an away ODI victory rate of 77.4%. That is a phenomenal record to have achieved playing against high-quality opposition in South Africa and Australia at their home grounds.