World Cup 2023: Can India win their first major cricket title since 2013?

India, the host nation and one of the favourites for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, will aim to end their eight-year drought of a major cricket title. India has a balanced and experienced squad led by Rohit Sharma, but they will also face some tough challenges and stiff competition from other teams in the tournament.

India, the host nation and one of the favourites for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, will aim to end their eight-year drought of a major cricket title. India last lifted an ICC trophy in 2013, winning the Champions Trophy in England under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.

Since then, India has reached the semifinals of three consecutive World Cups (2015, 2019, and 2021) and the final of the inaugural World Test Championship (2023) but failed to cross the final hurdle on each occasion.

The upcoming World Cup, held from October 5 to November 19, will be a golden opportunity for India to reclaim their glory in front of their home fans. India have won two World Cups so far, both at home – in 1983 under Kapil Dev and in 2011 under Dhoni.

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India has also been the most consistent ODI team in recent years, topping the ICC rankings and winning 15 out of 21 matches in 2023. India has a balanced and experienced squad led by Rohit Sharma, who has taken over the captaincy from Virat Kohli.

However, India will also face some tough challenges and stiff competition from other teams in the tournament. The World Cup will feature ten teams playing each other in a round-robin format, with the top four qualifying for the semifinals.

India will have to contend with defending champions England, who beat them in the 2019 semifinal, and arch-rivals Pakistan, who thrashed them in the 2021 T20 World Cup group stage. Other contenders include New Zealand, who lost to England in the 2019 final on boundary countback, Australia, who have won five World Cups, and South Africa, who are looking to shed their tag of chokers.

Weaknesses

One of India’s main weaknesses is their lack of variety and left-handed batsmen in their batting line-up. All their top six batsmen are right-handed, which could make them vulnerable against quality left-arm bowlers or spinners who turn the ball away from them. India has no specialist left-handed batsman in their squad, with Ishan Kishan being the only option as a backup opener or wicketkeeper-batsman.

Another weakness that India could face is their inconsistency and pressure-handling ability in knockout matches. India has often faltered at crucial stages of big tournaments, losing key moments or failing to chase down targets. India has lost four out of their last five knockout matches in ICC events, including two finals and two semifinals. India must overcome their mental block and perform under pressure to win their third World Cup title.

India’s bowling attack could also be a cause for concern, especially if they have to defend low totals or bowl on flat pitches. India’s pace attack is led by Jasprit Bumrah, one of the best death bowlers in the world.

Despite flopping badly in all major multi-nation International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments since winning the 2013 Champions Trophy, India remains a heavy favourite on expertly reviewed India bookmakers for 2023.

India’s spin department is also not very settled, with Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav being the only specialist spinners in the squad. Jadeja has been out of form with both bat and ball, while Kuldeep has struggled to regain his confidence and rhythm after being dropped from the team for a long time.

R Ashwin, who has been recalled to the ODI squad after four years, could be a surprise package, but he must adapt quickly to the conditions and format.

Strengths

One of India’s biggest strengths is their formidable top-order batting, which features some of the best players in the world. Rohit Sharma, who has scored three double centuries in ODIs, is one of the most destructive openers in the game.

He will be partnered by Shubman Gill, a young talent who has impressed with his elegant strokeplay and temperament. Gill scored a brilliant double hundred against New Zealand in Hyderabad earlier this year, becoming the youngest batsman in ODIs.

India also has Virat Kohli, arguably the best batsman of his generation, at number three. Kohli scored over 12,000 runs in ODIs at an average of nearly 60 and a strike rate of over 90.

He has also scored 43 centuries, second only to Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49. Kohli has been in fine form in 2023, scoring three hundreds and two fifties in 16 matches. He will be followed by Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, who can play anchor or accelerator roles according to the situation.

India’s batting depth is also enhanced by Hardik Pandya, one of the most explosive all-rounders in the world. Pandya can change the course of a match with his power-hitting and bowl useful overs with his medium pace. He is also an excellent fielder and a livewire on the field. Pandya has been appointed India’s vice-captain for the World Cup and will be expected to provide some fireworks in the lower middle order.

Key players

Rohit Sharma:

The captain and the opener, Rohit Sharma, will be India’s most important player in the World Cup. He has a phenomenal record in ICC events, scoring 978 runs in 17 matches at an average of 65.20 and a strike rate of 98.38. He also holds the record for the most centuries in a single World Cup, scoring five in 2019.

Virat Kohli:

The former captain and the number three, Virat Kohli, will be India’s mainstay in the middle order. He has been India’s most consistent and prolific batsman in ODIs, scoring runs in all conditions and against all oppositions. He also has a hunger for big scores and chasing down targets, which could be crucial in high-pressure matches.

Jasprit Bumrah:

The spearhead and the death bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, will be India’s key weapon in the bowling department. He can bowl fast and accurate yorkers, slower balls, and bouncers, which make him a nightmare for batsmen in the endeavours. He also has a knack for picking up wickets at crucial junctures and breaking partnerships. p.

Form guide

India has been in excellent form in ODIs in 2023, winning 15 out of 21 matches and losing only five. They have also won four of five bilateral series, beating England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Australia at home.

Their only series defeat came against South Africa away, where they lost 2-1. India also won the Asia Cup 2023, beating Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka in the group stage and then defeating Pakistan again in the final.

India has also been dominant at home, winning 11 out of 12 matches in 2023. They have scored more than 300 runs on seven occasions and chased down targets of 350 twice. Their only defeat at home came against Australia in Rajkot, where they failed to defend 352 runs.

India’s recent form suggests they are well-prepared and confident for the World Cup. They have a balanced and experienced squad, with players familiar with the conditions and the opposition. They also have a strong support staff, led by head coach Rahul Dravid, who has been instrumental in grooming young talents and creating a positive environment in the team.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 Indian Team (Photo Source- getty images)

Summary

With India standing on the cusp of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The host nation presents a formidable force, backed by an exceptional top-order batting lineup led by the formidable Rohit Sharma and the indomitable Virat Kohli.

However, there are evident chinks in the armor, including a lack of left-handed batsmen and a somewhat unsettled spin department. The team’s history of stumbling in knockout matches looms large.

The burden of delivering India’s first major cricket title since 2013 rests heavily on key players like Jasprit Bumrah, whose death bowling skills will be pivotal. The team’s recent form and their successful adaptability to varying conditions are promising signs.

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