Hey Virat Kohli, do a Kapil Dev and bring home the ICC World Cup

Updated: Jan 01, 2019, 14:50 IST | Subodh Mayure

Kohli's team well-equipped to claim world cricket's biggest prize on July 14, 2019

Hey Virat Kohli, do a Kapil Dev and bring home the ICC World Cup
India players celebrate a wicket during the fifth ODI against West Indies at Thiruvananthapuram last November. Pic/AFP

If 2018 was a significant year for India in Test cricket (overseas series against South Africa, England and three out of four Tests against Australia), this year could be a greatness-defining one for Virat Kohli & Co in one-day cricket. Sure, there will be 10 games against Australia (away and home) as well as a tour of New Zealand, but what's most awaited is the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

The May 30-July 14 tournament in the United Kingdom will feature 10 teams and each of them will view India as the side to beat. Unlike in Test cricket, the 2011 champions have a red-hot opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, followed by the captain and Ambati Rayudu. Kedar Jadhav will be part of the XI if he doesn't have any fitness issues. Then comes senior pro Mahendra Singh Dhoni, patchy form notwithstanding, will be welcomed in any side.

Deserving of top billing
India have enough results-based ammunition to establish that their numero uno status in one-day cricket is no fluke. How early they acclimatise and adjust to English conditions will be the key in their quest to become only the second Indian team to win the World Cup in England. To emulate Kapil's devils of 1983, their bowlers will have to trouble opposition batsmen with swing. It is here where Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be an important cog in the wheel for India along with Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. There's a spin threat as well with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal performing consistently. A team that can leave Ravichandran Ashwin out of the reckoning is a side to viewed with fear and it is fair to say that India will start as favourites.

Form will be crucial; rhythm and momentum equally critical and of course, there is the danger of peaking a touch too early. Remember, Australia in 1991-92 when Allan Border's defending champions didn't measure up to expectations after a triumphant one-day triangular at home which also featured West Indies and India? This will be the first time that a World Cup will follow the IPL. And India, more than any other nation, will have to guard against fatigue. The general elections may cause a change in venue and the franchises will not have a problem with that, but who is to say that teams won't be affected if the India players figure in only a few IPL games.

Near-perfect past
Rarely have India ODI teams fared disastrously in England. That's not the only reason why supporters should get their hopes high for a sizzling showing in Old Blighty. India won the 2013 Champions Trophy there and emerged runners-up to Pakistan in the 2017 edition of the tournament. Last year, however, England, triumphed 2-1 in the ODI series following their 4-1 win in the Test series. It is not unrealistic to say that Kohli's team have everything going for them to bag cricket's biggest prize. The last time the World Cup was held in England, the favourites (Australia 1999) took home the cup. India's time has come.

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