With less than a year to the World Cup, we attempt to speculate what the tournament holds. As of now, if you ask any cricket pundit for the odds, 9 of them would either have India as favourites or England. As the latter is beyond the scope of this article, let's focus on the former for now.
India is at the top of the cricketing world, having nailed South Africa 5-1 away, given England a run for the money and being unbeaten at home in 3 years. Not only have they won games, but they have looked uncannily convincing in their triumphs.
The question is,'What makes India so good?'. They have always been a good side but them rivalling the domination of Aussies of the early 2000s or the West Indies of 1980s is too hard a pill to swallow. So, we look into What makes India One of the top contenders of ICC 2019 World Cup.
#1 A Well Set Opening Pair
Rohit (2nd) and Dhawan(9th) are the only opening pair to be ranked in top 10 in ICC ODI Batting Rankings at the moment. While Sharma has 1030 runs in 19 innings in 2018, Dhawan is only a couple of steps behind with 897. What makes them so good?
Well, firstly both are world class batsmen. Secondly, the two complement each other. Rohit is a slow starter and, so it is Dhawan who ensures that pressure doesn't get to his partner. Once Rohit gets to his own, Dhawan plays the supporting role.
In 90 innings batting together, the two have scored over 4000 runs at an average exceeding 45. Plus, they have some exceptional performances in Global Tournaments. Indeed, Dhawan has been India's top performer in every Global tournament he has played in. What else could you want of your opening players?
#2 Virat Kohli at one down
This had to be there, hadn't it? Often termed, the greatest batsman of his generation, Virat Kohli is India's backbone. He has always been prolific, none like the last 3 years though. This year he has 1202 runs in 14 games, averaging a staggering 133.55! Let me remind you, 6 of these games were played in hostile South African conditions and 3 of them in England. How do you stop this guy? The only vulnerability, around the off-stump, that he seemed to have seems long gone. He is not someone who would succumb to knockout pressure, and he can single-handedly win his side games.
Unless he loses his form just before the World Cup, India is all good.
Kohli holds key to India's World Cup campaign, especially given a fragile middle order and a particularly long tail. Is he up for the task? Of course, he is!
#3 Quartet of pacers
When was the last time a genuine Pacer emerged from India? Okay, I am going to make the question easier for you. When was the last time you saw an Indian sending down peaches at 153 kph? Maybe never! India isn't known to produce quality pacers. Yet, somehow we have an Indian quick topping the ICC ODI ranking bowling charts.
Jasprit Bumrah has been a revelation since his debut. He has 78 wickets to his name in 44 ODIs at an average of 21.01. This, my friend, is an exceptional performance.
If these numbers seem impressive, what do you think of someone who has 94 wickets in 52 games? Mohammad Shami has been India's bowling spearhead for long now and India would hope that his golden patch of form carries on.
With these two being India's first choices, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma complete the quartet. I don't intend to disrespect any of India's greats but this is the best Bowling Attack that I have seen from India.
#4 The master tactician in MS Dhoni
An ageing Dhoni may not be the finisher he once was, but the experience is still there. The chief architect of Indian's point-blank domination, Dhoni is one best brain in world cricket. Having vacated the captaincy, he is often seen mentoring Virat, suggesting reviews and guiding fielders. Always involved in the game, he is one of the main pillars of the side. 2019 World Cup would be his last and he would be motivated more than ever to end it on a high note. Verily, a career as good as his deserves a stupendous farewell.
Going into the World Cup with a slightly inexperienced middle order, India would not only need Dhoni for devising strategies but implementing them as well. While top order would definitely do the bulk of the scoring, Dhoni may be needed to finish games. An inform Dhoni would reduce India's woes to half!
#5 Spin twins- Jadeja and Yadav
English pitches reward quality spinners. India has produced a number of them. For now, their premier spinners are Yadav, Jadeja, and Ashwin. While Ashwin may not play a significant part in the World Cup, Kuldeep Yadav can be India's ace. The slow left-arm chinaman has 67 wickets in 33 games - 9 of these coming in 3 ODIs in England. He is, surely, familiar with English conditions and may come in handy given the uniqueness of his Craft.
Ravindra Jadeja hasn't been prolific over the last couple of years but English pitches would assist his bowling style. Having been the highest wicket taker in Champions Trophy 2013, you can't really doubt his credentials. Plus he can come in handy with the bat and there is no fielder as good as Jadeja. Why won't you play Jadeja? The guy is a Match Winner!