Former captain Sourav Ganguly believes that the Indian cricket team has a good chance of defending the World Cup title under Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership.
While India’s overseas record under Dhoni isn’t anything to boast about, Ganguly feels the time is not right to think about a possible successor. “Not till the World Cup. We will see after that how India does,” he said.
Team India will go into the World Cup next year as the defending champions but bouncy tracks in Australia and New Zealand, feel many, will test the players. Ganguly though has faith in the ODI abilities of the side. “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,” he said.
“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. The team will once again play four Tests this year and Ganguly feels the contests would be a litmus test. “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.
All eyes would also be on Virat Kohli who has not performed to his potential in recent matches.
While the right hander did manage a half-century against the West Indies in the second ODI at Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday, he 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.”