Amidst the passage of substantial time, India’s protracted yearning for an ICC Trophy extends over a decade, prompting former India skipper Sourav Ganguly to advocate against triggering the alarm. He asserts that there’s no exigency to do so. Ganguly further opines that for Rohit Sharma and his cohorts to grasp the ODI World Cup this year, the batsmen must showcase commendable performances.
The most recent instance when India clinched an ICC title dates back to 2013, when the MS Dhoni-led contingent conquered England in the Champions Trophy final. An antecedent narrative unfolded in 2011, concluding a prolonged 28-year drought as India secured the ODI World Cup.
Post-2013, India encountered eight crucial clashes in ICC tournaments – the decisive matches, including semi-finals – yet the sought-after laurel remained elusive.
Ganguly muses, “Eternal conquest in World Cups remains elusive; inevitable are moments of adversity, intermittent spells of barrenness.”
This chronicle of unrealized aspirations extended even to the World Test Championship Finals in 2021 and 2023, coupled with their exits in the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup in 2015 and 2019, and a poignant defeat in the final of the Champions Trophy in 2017.
Similar threads of narratives pervade the T20 World Cups. 2014 witnessed the loss in the final, followed by early exits in the semi-finals in 2016 and 2022.
Nevertheless, an unscripted narrative awaits India on their native soil during the impending World Cup. Ganguly unequivocally asserts that the potency of their batsmen is the cornerstone of their success.
“Their batting prowess shall stand as the fulcrum of their victory. Triumph in batting will be the conduit to glory,” asserts Ganguly, an experienced leader who steered India to the 2003 World Cup final.
The voyage of preparation embarks with the Asia Cup of 2023, encompassing confrontations with arch-rivals Pakistan, along with skirmishes against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. This prelude is followed by a three-game series against Australia, set to unfold on Indian terrain.
However, Ganguly sagely reminds us that each competition possesses its unique dynamics. “Dissimilar are the contours of the World Cup, the Asia Cup, and the home series against Australia. The outcome of each event hinges upon their performance in that very moment. While India undoubtedly stands as a force to be reckoned with, their mettle shall be tested on the grand stage of the World Cup.”
Intriguingly, a twist in the tale emerges with India’s squad selection for the Asia Cup. The selectors’ choice to omit Yuzvendra Chahal, a distinguished leg-spinner, has elicited raised eyebrows. Ganguly elucidates, “The nod towards Axar Patel over Chahal stems from the former’s batting prowess. This selection is praiseworthy. Yet, the door remains ajar for Chahal’s return, should the need arise due to injury. With a roster comprising seventeen members, inevitably, a pair will have to yield.”
Likewise, the resurgence of key batters KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer from their respective injuries paints an encouraging picture. Ganguly, addressing concerns over Rahul’s fitness, clarifies, “He is now fit, having transcended his injury.”
Insight into the absence of a left-arm pacer in the squad follows a similar vein, as Ganguly emerges as a staunch advocate of the selection process. “Form has guided the selection process, leading to the inclusion of the most formidable pace bowling contingent. It is an assemblage characterized by sheer competence.”
Concluding with an evaluation of Pakistan’s initial head-start in the Asia Cup, Ganguly dismisses the significance of rankings, stressing the primacy of performance on the given day. Nevertheless, he reminds us that the Babar Azam-led unit commands respect as a formidable adversary, armed with a potent bowling arsenal.
“They stand as a formidable force, possessing a formidable lineup of bowlers, featuring Naseem Shah, Shahid Afridi, and Haris Rauf. Their composition is one marked by equilibrium. On the other hand, India wields considerable strength. Ultimately, the victor shall be determined by the execution of plans on the field; a matter bereft of intricate complexities,” elaborates Ganguly.