The last time an ODI World Cup was held in India, the MS Dhoni-led side ended a 28-year-long wait by lifting the trophy in front of a packed Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It happened 12 years ago. In between, India have suffered nothing but heartbreaks in World Cups in every format. Come October this year, Rohit Sharma will have a chance to emulate Dhoni and bring an end to India’s more than a decade-long wait for an ICC title. But the big question is, does the Rohit-led side have enough firepower to go all the way? The same question was asked by former India all-rounder and one of the architects of India’s triumph in 2011, Yuvraj Singh.
Yuvraj took on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Thursday to question the current Indian side’s ability to handle pressure and deliver the goods like their team did 12 years ago in front of the home crowd.
“We all want a repeat of 2011 in #ICCWorldCup23 BUT In 2011 #TeamIndia shined under pressure. In 2023, Again, the team is under pressure to perform. Do we have enough time to turn this around? Can we use this pressure to become a ‘Game changer’,” Yuvraj, who returned as the Player of the Tournament the last time India won the World Cup in 2011, wrote.
He got an instant reply from his former teammate and former India opener, Virender Sehwag. The swashbuckling batter and a member of India’s last two World Cup-winning teams in 2007 (T20) and 2011 (ODIs), said the likes of Rohit, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, and Jsaprit Bumrah won’t buckle under pressure and instead, they will give it right back to the opposition.
“Ayi baat pressure ki, toh iss bar hum pressure lenge nahi, denge! Like champions! (When it comes to pressure, we won’t take it but we will give it to the opposition),” Sehwag replied while tagging Yuvraj.
Sehwag also went on to remind Yuvraj that the last three ODI World Cups were won by the host nation – India in 2011, Australia in 2015 and England in 2019.
“Peechle 12 saal mein, host team world cup jeeti hain! (The host team has won all the ODI World Cups in the last 12 years). 2011 – We won at Home. 2015 – Australia won in Australia. 2019 – England won in England. 2023 – Hum Toofan Machayenge!,” Sehwag wrote.
India’s strengths and weaknesses for ICC World Cup 2023
India are definitely one of the favourites to win the cup for two reasons – 1) They have a very good side packed with match winners. 2) The World Cup will be played entirely in India for the first time.
In the batting department, India have the likes of Gill, Rohit, Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan. In Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, they have two of the best all-rounders in world cricket currently. The pace department will be led by Jasprit Bumrah. He will have Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj for support. Kuldeep Yadav is India’s lone specialist spinner.
This, however, doesn’t mean, India don’t have weaknesses. In fact, they have more than a few. Firstly, the side doesn’t have any left-hander in the top six unless they prefer Ishan Kishan as the keeper-batter over KL Rahul. Secondly, there is no off-spinner in the side. With only one specialist spinner and two left-arm spin-bowling all-rounders, they appear thin in the spin department for a tournament that will be played in India. Lastly, the majority of their bowlers cannot be trusted with the bat. The long tail is the reason they will have to pick Shardul Thakur in the XI on most occasions and sacrifice either Shami or Siraj in the XI. Even then, their lower-order is no match for the likes of England, Australia, and Pakistan.