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Saturday, January 29, 2011

World Cup 2011 - Will India better 2007 performance?

India had a disastrous World Cup in 2007 - they were dumped out of the tournament after the first stage where they lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, defeating only Bermuda in the competition. Will they repeat the performance in 2011 or will they go all the way? Let us see their possible journey for the first stage:
  • First match of the competition stars India and Bangladesh in Mirpur - the one match that India will play outside their country. This was the team that defeated India in their last World Cup match and a grudge-match is on offer. The Indians will be eager to put their best foot forward in this match and it will be a good match to ease in the four players (Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Praveen Kumar) who had been rested in the previous series in South Africa. India have lost just one game in the 12 matches played in Bangladesh against the hosts - they should ensure that this number doesnt double after the first match in Mirpur!!
  • After the relatively easy opposition, India face up the new No.1 contenders in test cricket after their resounding Ashes win - England. The English team is high on spirits after their record win against the Oz but they have come down few notches after the reverses in the ODIs. Their bowlers who are typically their strength in other venues, tend to lose their sting in India. India have won 11 of their last 12 matches against England at home - 21 wins out of a total of 34 matches played between the two in India shows who the favorite is.
  • After England, it is the turn of the minnows. Ireland are next on the menu for the Indians in Bengaluru. The Indians have played just one match against the Irish team and won the only one. No points for guessing who will win.
  • Netherlands come up next at the Kotla for India. Again, one match played and won for the Indians. A relatively easy match for the hosts.
  • India face their strongest opponent at this stage of the tournament - South Africa. 13 wins out of 22 matches in India means that the Indians will fancy themselves to win against the Proteas. The recent ODI series has given the Indians an idea of the strategy that they can adopt successfully in the World Cup. In the only match played in Nagpur between the two teams (where the WC match will be held), India were defeated by 10 runs despite scoring 310. Sachin and Kirsten played for opposite sides then but now will team up to play against Gary's home team. 
  • West Indies is the last team to play against India in the first stage of the tournament. The Caribbeans have a favorable record against the Indians at home, thanks to the previous great teams of the Windies. Even in the 2000s, the record looks even between the teams (6 wins and same number of losses)
Four matches against test-playing nations in the first stage - two tough ones (South Africa and England) and two relatively easier ones (Bangladesh and West Indies) - mean that the Indians have a good chance to top the Board in their Group after all matches are played. The chart below shows the performance of the teams in India's group (in all World Cups so far and in the 2010 year) - this can be a bit misleading since some teams have played weaker teams last year and hence their record looks flattering.

A similar chart for Group A shows a similar trend.

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