As hosts and the number one ranked ODI team in world cricket, England are a firm favourite with the bookmakers to lift the World Cup trophy come July 14. Meanwhile, India World Cup odds place the team as the contest’s second favourites.
Needless to say, India are tipped for a big run at World Cup 2019. Nevertheless, some doubts remain about their preparations for the tournament, the English playing conditions and the form of one of their key men.
India World Cup Odds and Why India won’t win the World Cup
#1 – The Conditions Don’t Suit Them
Judging by England’s ODI series with Pakistan, and also the World Cup warm-up matches, there has been an edict from the ECB that dictates that they want perfectly bare, flat pitches.
– Indian Batsman
Those are conditions which suit the Indians more than traditional green tops that you find in England. However, they will still feel out of their comfort zone. English summers can be cool, breezy and cloudy, which is not the definition of an Indian summer by any means. In addition, we have seen how India struggle against the moving ball. In 2018, They lost the test series 1-4 and were downed 1-2 in the ODI campaign. England won the last two matches by 86 runs and eight wickets, which are cavernous margins in the 50 over game.
We know that this white ball doesn’t swing much, if at all. But if there is any lateral movement either off the pitch or through the air, the Indian batsmen may struggle once again to come to terms with the conditions in England. This flies in the face of the India World Cup odds that flatter the team so favourably.
– Indian Bowlers
It’s not just the batsmen who could struggle, either. The Indian seam attack has a rather one-dimensional feel to it, and while it is accepted that Jasprit Bumrah is one of the best in the business, where does his support come from?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar could barely buy a wicket in England last summer. Meanwhile, Mohammed Shami has a habit of being expensive, with his career economy rate ODIs currently at 5.48. The fact that MS Dhoni turned so regularly to Hardik Pandya when seeking inspiration from his seamers explains all.
India took 19 wickets in the ODI series last summer against England. Furthermore, eleven of those were captured by spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. They can only bowl 20 overs per innings between them. Consequently, we query whether the Indian seam attack is a World Cup winning unit. This is another reason why the short India World Cup odds set may be a losing proposition.
#2 – Preparation is Everything
England are playing on home soil. Therefore, you could make an argument that England don’t need to practice so much for this World Cup.
And yet they have enjoyed a really useful series of run-outs against Pakistan, blowing away a ruggedly talented opponent without barely breaking a sweat. Some of England’s batting in particular was out of this world, and proof positive of why they are rated the best ODI outfit on planet cricket.
It’s worth mentioning because India’s preparations for the World Cup have been rather less comprehensive. They’ll play in two warm-up matches, first against New Zealand at The Oval on May 25 and then a trip to Cardiff to tackle Bangladesh on May 28.
And then they’re into it, barely a week later, with their first tournament match against South Africa. That could be a key fixture in determining who finishes inside the top four and who doesn’t. Therefore, it’s not one you want to go into cold. India have not played an ODI since March, when they suffered a series defeat to Australia. They are playing a dangerous game here by not preparing more robustly.
#3 – Dhoni Done?
For years, a decade perhaps, MS Dhoni has been one of the best finishers in cricket.
The keeper-batsman has a fantastic knack for pacing an innings, knowing when to nudge the ball for ones and twos, and then when to press the accelerator and go big.
Or perhaps that should read he “used” to have a knack for pacing an innings. Because you see, statistically 2018 was the worst year of Dhoni’s career with the bat. He averaged just 25.20 in ODIs, his lowest annual total, and just the second time in his career that his overall average has dipped below 40.
Worst still from an Indian perspective is his strike rate. The icon of the modern game has been scoring his runs at just 68.10 apiece. That’s the lowest his strike rate has been throughout his international career. Incredibly, the master of clearing the rope hit just two maximums in ODIs in 2018.
But maybe, there are green shoots of recovery. Dhoni enjoyed a fine IPL campaign, averaging over 80 with a strike rate of 134. At least that gives him some hope after being dropped from the starting eleven during the series against Australia back in March.
MS Dhoni is a fading force in world cricket. Nevertheless, India will still need the ‘grandmaster of modern one day batting’ to come to the party.