By Sandip Sikdar
Former captain Sourav Ganguly believes that the Indian cricket team has a good chance of defending the World Cup title in 2015 to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
“India have got a good chance of defending the World Cup. They are a very good One-Day International (ODI) side wherever they play. Whether it is Australia or England, they are a top one-day side,” Ganguly said in an interview.
“Test matches overseas are an issue, but I am not really too worried about ODI performances and I think they will do well in Australia and New Zealand.”
The reigning World Champions should have an upper hand in the World Cup to be held in February-March 2015 as they will be touring Australia for more than two months, from late November to end of January, to play four Tests against the home side.
The Tests will be followed by an ODI tri-series also involving England.
The long tour may get the Indian team accustomed to the conditions ‘Down Under’, but will it not tire them out just ahead of the one-and-a-half-month-long World Cup?
“The players will get accustomed, but I don’t think they will get tired. They should not be thinking about this at all whether they are getting tired or not. The team will get a two-week break after the tri-series. They will come back to India and then go for the World Cup. A two-week break is enough these days,” said the 42-year-old.
The last time India toured Australia, from December 2011 to January 2012, they were thrashed 0-4 by the home team in the four match Test series.
This time too India will be playing four Tests and India’s overseas record under Mahendra Singh Dhoni isn’t anything to boast about.
“It is going to be a tough tour. India will really have to play well to compete with Australia and I hope they do because for me the strength and weakness of Indian cricket is how they play overseas,” said the left-hander who led India to the final of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
Though, current skipper Dhoni has brought several laurels for the country in limited overs cricket, including the 2011 World Cup at home, as mentioned above, his record in overseas Tests is pretty dismal. Is there any chance of split captaincy?
“Not till the World Cup. We will see after that how India does,” quipped Ganguly.
India’s leading batsman Virat Kohli has been going through a rough phase lately, not scoring as many runs as expected from him.
The right hander, though, did manage to score a half-century against the West Indies in the second ODI at Ferozeshah Kotla here Saturday, but was far from his aggressive best.
“He is just going through a phase where he is struggling with his form and it happens to everyone. You play for a period of time and you hit these patches and he has hit a patch from which he will come out,” Ganguly said in defence of Kohli.
“If there is a technical issue, I am sure he will sort it out. It happens to various players in various times of their careers. For me, he is a class act. Look at the amount of runs he has scored in the last four years and you cannot be ordinary and score all those runs for four years.”