Glenn McGrath: M. S. Dhoni key to India's World Cup prospects

India begins its World Cup campaign against South Africa on Wednesday. The tournament in England is expected to be M. S. Dhoni's last for India.

M. S. Dhoni prepped for the start of India's World Cup campaign with a free-flowing century in the warm-up match against Bangladesh.   -  AP

Images of Glenn McGrath imposing himself on line-ups with laser-guided precision, movement, bounce and subtle variations flash before your eyes each time the ICC ODI World Cup comes around.

After all, none has more scalps in the World Cup - 71 at a stunning economy rate of 3.96 - than this lean, mean and ruthless gunslinger from down under. Significantly, the inspirational McGrath has been part of three Australian World Cup-winning teams.

Here, now, on yet another coaching stint at the MRF Pace Foundation, McGrath shared his thoughts on the ongoing competition in England.

McGrath said, “England are the favourites. They are playing at home and they are playing a brand of cricket where they seek to attack all through the 50 overs. They have the depth and talent to pull off this strategy.”

He added, “Given the format of the tournament which rewards consistency, I expect India and Australia to make the semifinalis.”

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The Aussie pace legend said, “M. S. Dhoni, with his experience, will be the key to India’s prospects. Bumrah will be a big factor with the ball. Australia has David Warner and Steven Smith. This said, a team of players rather than one or two individuals will win the World Cup for their side.”

McGrath tipped the West Indies to be the fourth semi-finalist. “They are playing a fearless brand of cricket. They can be dangerous since they are playing as if they have nothing to lose. If they make it to the final, it should be very interesting.”

The Aussie also felt that the short-pitched bowling ploy of the West Indian quicks to hustle the opponents -  Pakistan was blown away the other day - could work on certain surfaces.

Eventually, it would boil down to how the teams adapted to the English conditions, said McGrath. “Teams have to adjust quickly and it may not be easy, in certain conditions, with two white balls doing a bit.”

New Zealand, which McGrath pointed out “often punched above its weight,” could vie with the West Indies for a semifinal spot.

South Africa, McGrath said, was still dishing out conventional one-day cricket and had not switched over to the ‘Total 50-over cricket’ like England had done.

Coming back to Australia, McGrath said the combination of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins could torment line-ups in the competition with their pace and variety.  

McGrath is following the current World Cup rather closely.

Teenage batting sensation Prithvi Shaw, in preparation for the tour of the West Indies, will have nets at the MRF Pace Foundation here from June 7.

Pace Foundation head coach M. Senthilnathan said, “Prithvi will be batting on pacey practise pitches against some lively pacemen.”

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