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Their stocks are plunging - Can India get themselves sorted in time for cricket's World Cup?

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Roar Guru
29th August, 2023

If Indian men’s cricket team were a stock, investor sentiment would not be any lower than it is now. The repeated failures at the World tournaments, mixed results in bilateral white ball series and musical chair style selection of players has hit the sentiments quite badly.

One does not remember a worse lead up to a 50 over Cricket World Cup than what we are witnessing today in India.

There are calls for the stock hitting 2007 lows during the months of October 2023. If you ask stock market punters, they will tell you that October is historically a dangerous month for bulls. Should the Indian cricket bulls beware?

What are the critical factors that will impact India’s performance in this World Cup?

Home advantage

India will be playing their matches at home and they are hard to beat in these shores. The biggest problem for Indian white ball cricket has been the lack of bowling allrounders, which in turn has impacted their lower order batting. The availability of spin bowling allrounders like Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will help India elongate the batting.

One hopes that Ravichandran Ashwin will also be considered for the World cup. India can look to play all three in the team, just like they do in the Test matches. We cannot forget how helpful these three were down the batting order in the recent Border-Gavaskar trophy in India against the Aussies.

AHMEDABAD, INDIA - MAY 29: Ravindra Jadeja of the Chennai Super Kings bats during the 2023 IPL Final match between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans at Narendra Modi Stadium on May 29, 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Ravindra Jadeja bats for Chennai Super Kings against Gujarat Titans. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)


The second problem that has plagued the Indian team is their middle order’s poor batting against spin bowlers. In the recent ODI series against Australia, the Indian batters struggled against the Aussie spinners on a typical Indian pitch at Chepauk. The return of Shreyas Iyer, who is brilliant against spin, and the introduction of a left hander, Tilak Varma, to the middle order might help their cause.

Batting pace

Ever since England revolutionised limited overs hitting, the Indian team has found it difficult to win on flat batting tracks. The Indian batters’ orthodox style and lack of hitters in the lower order has contributed negatively to this hitting oriented gameplay. When there has been help in the pitch, India has done well. One can have a look at their 50 over record from 2019 and see that India have won aplenty. However, this lack of sustained hitting ability in the line up is a weakness that India is yet to fill.

Rohit will want Surya Kumar Yadav, Tilak Varma and the all rounders find form and help the team in this regard. In addition to these batters, Rohit will want all the top order batters to score fast as well. If India is forced to bat first on a ground that dews up under lights in the evening, the typical Indian 50 overs score constructing style will not help. Rohit will need to change the batting pattern of the Indian team to address these situations.

Fast bowling depth

During the period of 2017 to 2021 India’s lack of explosive batting has often been compensated by good quality bowling. India depended on Jasprit Bumrah to bowl ten tight overs and keep the opposition from running away with a big score. Bumrah’s return at the top of the bowling order will help India during the World Cup. In addition to Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj’s good bowling form in recent series should help India in restricting the opposition.

Jasprit Bumrah celebrates a wicket

Jasprit Bumrah. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Mohammed Shami was in great form in the IPL, but did not replicate that top form in the few international matches that he played after the 2023 IPL. One has to wait until the Asia cup to see if Shami is able to regain his IPL form.

Apart from these seasoned players, a good development is Prasidh Krishna’s return from injury. Before Prasidh got injured he was in excellent form, keeping batters tied up with his McGrath-ish line and length. India needs a Prasidh more than Shami to come into bowl after Bumrah and Siraj. Rohit can use both Shami and Prasidh during the Asia cup and decide on who is in better form.

Never ending search for a settled XI

One is not sure if this is by design or it is the impact of untimely injuries to main players, Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma have been playing different XIs and XVs in most matches in every series. The endless trying of players and combinations has meant that the XI that will ultimately take the field against Australia might not have played more than a match or two together. The top teams like Australia, England and Pakistan seem to have figured out their best players for the past few seasons and been playing them consistently.

Apart from the form of personnel, this lack of role clarity among the players will be the biggest drawback for India. We have seen this aspect impact the team in all the World tournaments since 2021 T20 WC, particularly when they played the big gun teams in these tournaments.

My preferred XI for the World Cup considers the modern white ball game need for nine batters and six bowlers in the playing XI:


Rohit Sharma (Bt), Shubman Gill (Bt), Virat Kohli (Bt), Shreyas Iyer (Bt), Tilak Varma (All), Ishan Kishan (WK), Hardik Pandya (All), Ravindra Jadeja (All), Axar Patel (All), Jasprit Bumrah (Bo), Mohammed Siraj (Bo)

Rounding out the squad I’ve included KL Rahul (WK), Shardul Takur (All), Prasidh Krishna (Bo), Mohammed Shami (Bo).