‘India will have to bat well at World Cup’

The key for India to winning the ODI World Cup and ending their trophy drought in major ICC tournaments is their batters’ stepping up, feels former captain Sourav Ganguly.

India have not won a major ICC tournament in a decade, having last won the Champions Trophy in England in 2013, under the captaincy of MS Dhoni.

India have lost the World Test Championship finals in 2021 and 2023, while having endured semi-final exits in the 2015 and 2019 ODI World Cups.

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It’s the same story in T20 World Cups. They lost the final in 2014 and were bundled out in the semifinals twice — 2016 and 2022.

However, India will be taking a shot at Cup glory during this World Cup at home, and Ganguly said their batsmen must deliver.

“You cannot win World Cups all the time, there will be bad times, there will be gaps,” Ganguly said during the launch of Cycle Pure Agarbathi’s new products to mark its 75 years.

“They will have to bat very well, if they bat well they will win,” Ganguly, who led India to the 2003 World Cup final, said.

India’s preparation will begin with the Asia Cup 2023 where they will face Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan before playing a three-match series against Australia at home.

Ganguly, however, said each tournament would carry its own dynamics.

“The World Cup is different, Asia Cup is different and the Australia home series is different. Every tournament depends on how they play that particular moment. India are a strong side; but they have to play well during the World Cup,” he said.

‘Axar picked for his batting’

India have picked a 17-member squad for the Asia Cup and the selectors decision to omit premier leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has raised many eyebrows.

“They have picked Axar Patel ahead of Chahal because of his batting. So I think it’s a good selection. Chahal can still come back if someone gets injured. This is a 17-member squad, two, in any case, will have to move out,” said Ganguly.

Key batters KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer too made returns from injuries. Rahul, however, is still carrying a niggle.

“He’s fit, not injured anymore,” he said.

Commenting on the absence of a left-arm pacer in the squad, Ganguly defended the selection, saying, “They picked (players) on form, they picked their best fast bowling side. It’s the best pace attack.

“I think it’s a very fair side, the right side they have picked. It’s just that they have to play well now.”

Pakistan will start the Asia Cup ahead of India as the No 2 ranked team, and they may even have a chance to become No 1 in ODIs if they beat Afghanistan 3-0 in the on-going series.

“Rankings don’t matter, who plays well on that day matters,” said Ganguly, but gave a reminder that the Babar Azam-led side will be a formidable opposition.

“They are a very good side. They have a very good bowling attack— Naseem Shah, Shahid Afridi, Haris Rauf. They are a very balanced team. India is a strong side. It’s how you play on that particular day; there is no rocket science to it,” he said.

Looking forward to the riveting World Cup clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad, Ganguly said, “Both teams are formidable, and the one who executes (plans) better will win the match.”

Ganguly then offered his perspective on head coach Rahul Dravid who was appointed to the helm when the former was the BCCI president.

“He’s too big a player to be rated. I wish him all the best for the World Cup,” he signed off.

With inputs from PTI 

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