India players discuss a strategy during a match. AFP
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
The way India dominated both their toughest opponents South Africa and defending champions Australia, surely they have emerged as the strongest contenders for the World Cup.
The Indians outclassed Aussies in every department of the game, never once looking troubled against the mighty Kangaroos.
All the Indian players seem to have perfectly executed their game plan. While openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma gave the team a solid foundation, Virat Kohli anchored the innings with a watchful 80, and MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya spurred the run rate with quick-fire knocks.
The bowlers too did their job as they chipped away with wickets and did not let Australian batsmen pose any serious threat at any point of time during the chase. But the question is, are the Indian players peaking too early or the best is yet to come?
For those superstitious followers of the game, when everything dishes out perfectly, an ominous feeling sinks in that something inauspicious might be in store. After the two convincing victories against the two strongest sides at the World Cup, India should be wary of two things – complacency and burnout.
It is often seen in the big tournaments some teams kick off their campaigns very effectively and then by the time it reaches the climax, they run out of steam and eventually fizzle out.
The teams which start peaking at a later phase of the tournament, carry the momentum till the end. And the two most important reasons for failing to keep the momentum going are burnout and complacency, with injuries being the third culprit.
For India, both their openers Dhawan and Rohit have hit centuries; Kohli and Dhoni have also been among runs. Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshear Kumar and Chahal have been impressive in bowling, with all three of them reaching a tally of five wickets each from two matches.
If one or two players are clicking in one match, someone else is due to play a big innings or take a big haul of wickets in the next game, which bodes well for the team’s balance. When the whole team are clicking together the probability of failing together becomes higher. It is very common in sports, sometimes the whole team fail to perform in a very important match that seals their fate.
I can vividly recall the same thing had happened with India in the 1996 World Cup.
Until the semi-finals against Sri Lanka in Kolkata, the Indian team were in great form and were the top contenders for the title. After a dismal batting performance by the whole team, except Sachin in the semis, the match was abandoned due to crowd intervention and Lanka got a walk-over to the final.
All the good work done throughout the tournament was undone when it mattered the most.
Contrary to it, Pakistan got off their 1992 World Cup campaign on a disastrous note and then found the momentum, which they carried through to the final to emerge champions.
So the best way to save the players from a burnout is to try the bench strength and give rest to key players in low-profile games.
India still have to play seven more matches before the tournament goes into the knock-out stage.
They have just two tough matches against England and West Indies. The others should be lopsided affairs barring an upset. So India should give rest to their key players to safeguard them.
It is the best time to give some match practice to Dinesh Kartik, Mohammad Shami and Vijay Shankar before some one gets injured and one of these guys have to force their way into the team without any prior practice.
India's hopes have already been jolted as Dhawan has been ruled out for three weeks due to a thumb injury.
The other factor that can derail India's campaign and stop its juggernaut is complacency. If complacency sets in, it will be lethal for the men in blue.
The mighty but complacent West Indies led by the great Sir Clive Lloyd failed to chase a paltry total against India in the 1983 World Cup final and the rest is history.
They've not been able to emulate the success of the first two editions as the World Cup triumph has eluded them since.
India should follow the thumb rule of good, better best never be at rest till your good is better and your better is best.
India opener Rohit Sharma hit his fourth century of the World Cup as Virat Kohli's side booked their place in the semi-finals with a 28-run win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
The unpredictable English weather and some quality cricketers looking to showcase their skills on the biggest stage, the 2019 edition of the World Cup couldnt get any better.
The 2019 edition of the World Cup is now six days away and while India is considered one of the favourites going into the tournament in England and Wales, a lot will depend on how skipper Virat Kohli leads the team in the showpiece event.
A hijab-wearing, diminutive Malaysian wrestler known as "Phoenix" cuts an unusual figure in the ring, a female Muslim fighter taking on hulking opponents in a male-dominated world.
As the British Open gets ready to tee off this week at Royal Portrush -- marking the event’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years -- Rory McIlroy would look at it as an opportunity to end his five-year major drought with a win on home soil. The four-time major champion has not lifted one of golf’s big four trophies since winning
Godolphin Managing Director in Australia said the ownership of a 2019 slot meant the stable could plan with certainty for this year’s race.
Sharjah: The Executive Committee of the fifth edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST 2020) announced that till date 22 clubs from five Arab countries have sent in requests to participate in the first of its kind women’s sports event in the region. The announcement was made at the third Executive Committee meeting held