Monday, 30th October 2017

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Deep insights

Former Bengal skipper and India wicketkeeper-batsman Deep Dasgupta on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

  • Published 30.05.19, 11:24 PM
  • Updated 30.05.19, 11:24 PM
  • 3 mins read
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Deep Dasgupta Deep’s picture: B. Halder

All eyes on the World Cup...

Oh, yes, people will watch the World Cup because it’s the World Cup. I understand the apprehension as far as the 50-over format goes because there are too many inconsequential series which keep happening all the time. You lose track of who’s playing who and how many games. But you still don’t mind cricket and matches with a purpose.

Fine format...

I think it’s going to be the most competitive tournament and this format, in which every team plays every other team, is what it should be. More often than not, the other formats were predominantly divided into two groups where there is a good chance that the winner of the tournament has not played a top side which is in the other group. You would ideally like to win a minimum of six out of nine games to qualify for the semis. That makes it a great format.

The two tiers

According to me there are two tiers. The favourites which would be India, Australia and England. And then there would be four or five other teams which could be the dark horses. West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan... even South Africa for that matter. I won’t say they are out-and-out favourites, but they can pitch for the semi-finals. Afghanistan will make a mark and spoil a few parties for sure.

England has unbelievable batting and with the inclusion of Jofra Archer in the bowling line-up, that might help a bit. It is a very one-dimensional team, but their batting is so good that they can either put on a 400 on the board batting first or chase down 400. I am not too sure about the home advantage because we have to understand that English surfaces aren’t the same. There is nothing called English conditions any more. In white-ball cricket, it’s flat. It suits them to have flat batting tracks. And, at the end of the day, who plays well on the day is the most important.

Look at the Australian side now. That looks so good because everyone is available. In the last six months because of rotation, a lot of the bowlers weren’t there. But now, with everyone fit and back in the squad, they look quite formidable.

Members of the Afghanistan cricket team pose for a group photo at the British embassy in Kabul ahead of their departure for the World Cup in England and Wales.
Members of the Afghanistan cricket team pose for a group photo at the British embassy in Kabul ahead of their departure for the World Cup in England and Wales. Picture: AFP

Indiaaaa, Indiaaaa...

Virat Kohli: He has the pressure of carrying the ‘favourite’ tag as well. If you followed his growth in the last four-five-six years, you’ll know that every time he is under pressure, he will deliver. That’s him. There are some who buckle under pressure and cannot manage it. The reason why he is so successful over the years is that he can perform and he loves that pressure.

Let’s SWOT:

Virat, the captain...

Strength: He is so positive mentally, all the time. I don’t think there is an iota of negativity in him. Even though the team may be down and out, but never his body language and intensity.

Weakness: I think he can get a little finicky, in terms of... if you see the number of changes he has made... team selection... he can be a little better at that.

Opportunity: Winning the World Cup! And that too at Lord’s.

Threat: None really.

Virat, the batsman...

Strength: Consistency in scoring. That’s what he is all about. He will have a great tournament, no doubt.

Weakness: No apparent weakness. I know there was a lot said during IPL, but he doesn’t need to worry about that.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: I think this is his last 50-over World Cup. He is not going to be too fussy about what he wants from this World Cup. He would just want to go out there and win games. It can’t get better than winning the World Cup and then leaving. He might not be the captain but a lot depends on him and a lot of things revolve around him, especially fielding and bowling. So, he is a very important member of the team.

Bat and ball

It’s not just about Virat and Dhoni. Virat can win you a game or two, so can Dhoni. Point here is if you want to win the tournament, it has to be the team and the squad, not just the playing XI, but all 15 of them. Especially the bowling unit. It’s going to be very flat conditions where for the batsman it will be comparatively easy to score runs.

Rohit (Sharma) and Shikhar (Dhawan) do very well in ICC tournaments. In England their record is fabulous. There’s Virat and MSD. K.L. Rahul has done alright in limited opportunities in England last season. I am pretty much alright with the batting.

It’s going to be very important how the bowlers perform. It would be a high-scoring tournament where the average would be 280-300 runs. Jasprit Bumrah will do what he does. He is the best bowler in the world. Then the left and right-arm spinners... Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. If they have a good tournament, India is going to be right there, competing in the finals.

MY PLAYING XI GOING INTO MATCH ONE

  • Rohit Sharma
  • Shikhar Dhawan
  • Virat Kohli
  • Vijay Shankar
  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni
  • Kedar Jadhav
  • Hardik Pandya
  • Kuldeep Yadav
  • Yuzvendra Chahal
  • Jasprit Bumrah
  • Mohammed Shami

The Semi-finalists

  • India
  • Australia
  • England

New Zealand have been the underdogs. They have performed consistently over the years. Or, for that matter Pakistan or West Indies. The fourth team will be very difficult to predict.

The finals

India vs England or India vs Australia

The winner

My heart says India and my mind says, it’s open!