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World Cup 2015: Defending champs India eye treble amid fitness trouble

With fitness issues left too late to address, India are racing against time to field a fit XI for the World Cup.

Written by Sahil Malhotra | New Delhi | Updated: February 11, 2015 12:00:01 pm
World Cup 2015, Cricket World Cup, World Cup Cricket, Indian cricket team, team India, India World Cup, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Cricket News, Cricket World Cup 2015: Chasing their third title, India have fitness issues to deal with. (Source: AP)

With fitness issues left too late to address, India are racing against time to field a fit XI for the World Cup defence Down Under.

They lost only one game en-route to the 2011 World Cup title, lifted the trophy after a long gap of 28 years and raised the bar of expectations for the upcoming editions. So much before the preparations for the 2015 edition kicked off, the nation seemed to be basking in old glory.

From #wewontgiveitback a few months back, the recent results have forced the same fans to go into a #canwekeepitback mode. Yeah, we have the batting, we have the captain, and more importantly we have Virat Kohli. But are all bases covered for a repeat of 2011? Here’s how the Men in Blue fared in the road to the Cup.

Strength: India’s success in cricket is directly proportional to how their batsmen perform on the given day. This World Cup remains no exception. There are issues to deal with right at top of the order, but the middle chunk looks solid and fluent, as ever. Virat Kohli’s aggression, Suresh Raina’s fluency, Dhoni’s calm and Jadeja’s effectiveness make them a unit which can deflate any bowler’s morale. Even before the first ball hits the wicket.

Raina_m

The numbers might not be as mammoth as the Tendulkars, Gangulys, Dravids or Laxmans, but their command on match-situation has earned them the reputation of one of the finest on the roster. Gone are those days when an Indian scoreline of 10/2 forced a channel switch, this lot means serious business and has the ability to single handedly change the course of the game.

2014 onwards, India have managed to cross the 300-run mark not once but five times, and this includes a total of 404 against Sri Lanka in November2014. For the away record bashers, two of these totals were achieved in Cardiff and Auckland.

Expectedly, Kohli dominates the runs tally but the likes of Rayudu, Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja are not too far behind. Even if this unit manages to perform a tad less than what they achieved in the year gone by, India find themselves in a safe position.

virat-kohli_Reuters_m

Yes, they have been among the wickets but the amount of runs they are leaking isn’t a funny figure. With the strike bowlers regularly conceding over 5-5.5 every over, the pressure is only increasing on the batting. Even they can have an off-day, right?

What happens if the batting fails? Do our bowlers have the goods to defend anything around the 250-run mark?

Out of the 28 matches played by the Men in Blue 2014 onwards, they batted first on 14 occasions. In those 14 games, the Dhoni-led unit has managed to win only six contests. Six were lost while defending the total. Away bashers can smile as four out of those six defeats have come outside the subcontinent. More reason to worry, all four of these venues are in Australia and New Zealand.

Mohammad-Shami_m_AP

Very recently, Indian bowlers have struggled to defend totals like 278 and 267. Even on assisting strips of Australia and New Zealand. Why?

This is how the economy rates of our seam spearheads read:

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