Traversing the country but living in the present - India’s key to World Cup success

Be it the Coromandel Coast, northern hinterland, Gujarat’s dusty plains, Rohit Sharma’s men have been busy travellers. Their success, across the country, will depend on the same thing - staying in the present.

Published : Oct 17, 2023 15:00 IST , PUNE - 3 MINS READ

The Indian team celebrates a wicket of against Pakistan during the World Cup.
The Indian team celebrates a wicket of against Pakistan during the World Cup. | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI/The Hindu.

The Indian team celebrates a wicket of against Pakistan during the World Cup. | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI/The Hindu.

Traversing India’s geographical diversity is inevitable for the Men in Blue while they chase World Cup glory. Be it the humid Coromandel Coast, northern hinterland, Gujarat’s dusty plains or now the leap across the Western Ghats just in time for Thursday’s clash against Bangladesh here at the MCA Stadium, Rohit Sharma’s men have been busy travellers.

In the weeks ahead, more air miles await as the host is bound to leave footprints far and wide, be it the Himalayas, Gangetic Plains, the coasts (west and east) and the Deccan Plateau. Hopefully, the final destination will be Ahmedabad, the venue for the summit clash on November 19. But it is a milestone that is a month away and the Indian team would rather ‘focus on the process.’

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Three emphatic wins over Australia, Afghanistan and Pakistan have left India in a good space. The margin of triumphs, all secured while chasing — by six wickets, eight wickets and seven wickets, reveal top and middle orders that have delivered despite the ghastly two for three in that initial phase against the Aussies. The return of Shubman Gill augurs well while the old guard of skipper Rohit and Virat Kohli has clicked. K.L. Rahul and Shreyas Iyer too have been among the runs.

Tougher battles on the road ahead seem unavoidable but the batting is in good nick and the bowlers, led by Jasprit Bumrah, have delivered. Mohammed Siraj, after a middling outing against Afghanistan, belatedly found his rhythm against Pakistan. As a bowling unit, India has controlled the middle overs, its batting core has sparkled and the fielding has been adequate and efficient - all these constitute a recipe for success.

But there could be some vulnerable spots. India’s batting has not been fully tested. Hardik Pandya got one hit while the rest, from Ravindra Jadeja to the tail, are yet to stride towards the batting crease. In cricketing utopia, especially in ODIs, it is best if just the main batters do the job. However, reality could spring a nasty surprise as it did during the 2019 World Cup semifinal against New Zealand at Manchester. Rohit, Rahul and Virat scored a solitary run each and despite the resistance lower down the order from Hardik, M.S. Dhoni and Jadeja, India lost the game by 19 runs.

In the current edition, India does have a weak tail, a reality that the management is attempting to mask by fielding three all-rounders in the eleven: Hardik, Jadeja and Shardul Thakur. The odd inquisition may happen but the squad exudes a quiet confidence, evident in the scintillating performances on the field and the happy behind-the-scenes videos that the management posts on social media.

Living in the present, quelling one opponent at a time and being ready if and when a crisis pops up, remain the key, besides staying fit, both physically and mentally. The coming days, be it in Pune or in Dharamsala, should offer further hints about India’s progress into the last four.

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