Ravi Shastri’s appointment as India’s coach until the Twenty20 World Cup in 2021 is not an entirely surprising one.
The IPL madness is over and the focus shifts to the 2019 World Cup.
The Indian team opens their campaign with a tough match against South Africa followed by dates with Australia and New Zealand. After a couple of other clashes, India meet the hosts and pre-tournament favourites England. And their squad looks strong.
SWOT analysis – a technique first used by Stanford’s Albert Humphrey – identifies internal strengths and weaknesses and also external threats and opportunities. Let’s run a SWOT analysis of the Indian side.
The top three, especially Virat Kohli, is India’s biggest strength.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are awesome at the top, and Kohli at No.3 is the best in the business.
The cool mind of former skipper MS Dhoni is an asset as well. The bowling attack is good, with Jasprit Bumrah among the best in the world.
Spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal can create magic, and Ravindra Jadeja is a good back-up.
Hardik Pandya could be a destructive batsman in the slog overs.
A non-existent middle order could be the bane of the Indian team, and Dhoni’s coolness could be offset by his undeniable slowing down.
His forte was taking the game to the wire and banking on remaining calm while the bowler would stutter so he could finish the game with a few lusty blows. That may backfire, as it has in some matches recently.
Kedar Jadhav may break down as his fitness is highly suspect. The team also may be one spinner too many and one quick short, although third seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar may sit out a few games as captain Virat may prefer to go in with two spinners.
Yet in England, where 350 is being chased with ease, having an iffy fifth bowler may be a huge risk.
The external opportunity that the team benefits from is the format of the tournament, where each team will play each other once and the top four teams will proceed to the semi-finals.
With the Indian team’s weak middle order and lack of fire power at the end, a shorter tournament like the 2007 World Cup may have been disastrous.
This long, drawn-out format will suit the Indian team better as a one-off bad day may not prove costly enough to prevent a semi-final entry.
Once in the semi-finals, the team will bank on its openers and Virat for success.
Every team has several breathtaking and devastating players who can take the game away from India in just a few overs, so every side needs to be on guard for each and every match.
India is likely to enter the semi-finals along with England, Australia and one out of the West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand.
The hosts have never won the World Cup before India won it in 2011. Australia then became the second host team to win the tournament in 2015. England could make it three in a row.