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ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
You gave it back, but well done Team India!
Though the defending champions Team India failed in the just concluded 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup to defend their title, losing in the semifinal to the Australians who made maximum use of their luck with the toss to outbat India, the Indians can justifiably be pleased with their performance in the World Cup.

There are reasons. In the four-Test series between India and Australia that was played in Australia from December 9, 2014 to January 10, 2015, India had lost 0-2 to the hosts. And in the Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series that was played in the gap between the said Test-series and the World Cup, India failed to win even a single ODI match against Australia and England.

When the World Cup began on February 14, 2015, the odds were stacked heavily against India and even the die hard Indian fans were skeptical of the team's chances. India which had won the previous edition of the ICC World Cup in 2011 began its title defense with a group match against traditional rivals Pakistan. And even when India convincingly beat Pakistan in its first group match, it was considered a one-off thing, given that India has an enviable zero-loss record against Pakistan in the World Cup. And when India tamed the rampaging South Africa, a title favourite, in its second group match, people sat up and started taking notice.

At the end of the group matches round, India had won all the six matches it played and was sitting pretty at the top of its group with 12 points­ - a feat replicated only by New Zealand, the points-table topper of the other group. And most remarkably, the much-pilloried Indian bowlers had bowled out the opposition in all the six group matches, while New Zealand bowlers could do it only five times, having failed to bowl out Bangladesh in their last group match.

What's more, the Indian bowlers repeated the feat once again when they bowled out Bangladesh in the quarterfinal- that meant a mindboggling 70 wickets in seven consecutive matches!

As the Indian juggernaut rolled into the semifinals, there were suddenly hopes, although Australia had outplayed the team both in the test series and the triangular ODI series that immediately preceded the World Cup, and India's World Cup anthem "We Won't Give It Back" assumed a new optimistic note. But then, India lost the crucial toss in the semifinal and the rest, as they say, is history.

An appraisal of India's performance in the World Cup would reveal that India's fortunes marked a complete turnaround compared to what it was in the Carlton Mid ODI series. 

The most notable positive of the World Cup was the performance of the Indian pace trio Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, and Mohit Sharma, who bowled with pace and sting. The short-pitched stuff that they used effectively to stun and debilitate the opponent batsmen was a revelation and has now become a part of cricketing lore. 

The trio together claimed 48 scalps (Umesh Yadav 18, Mohammed Shami 17, and Mohit Sharma 13), and Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami finished third and fourth respectively in the list of most wickets by a bowler in this World Cup.

Another positive was India's spin mainstay Ravichandran Ashwin's performance. Ashwin's impressive show (13 wickets at an economy rate of 4.28) in the World Cup had a lot to do with his timely rediscovery of the merits of orthodox spin and flight and his return to conventional ways, eschewing the temptation to try too many things in too short a span. Interestingly, Mohit Sharma and Ashwin share the 14th rank in the most wickets list.

As for India's batting, there is not much to complain about and at the same time there is nothing much to crow about either. There were brilliant individual performances, and importantly they all came when they were needed most. Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, with 412 and 330 runs respectively, are ranked 5th and 15th in the list of most runs by a batsman, underscoring the fact that India has got a dependable opening pair for the ODIs. But then, the failure of other Indian batsmen to achieve top ranks in the list shows that they need to be consistent.

Ravindra Jadeja, the only recognized all-rounder in the team, did not live up to his billing. Though he claimed 9 wickets at an economy rate of 5.35 (rank: 22), he failed miserably with the bat and does not figure in the most runs list that features the top 50 batsmen of this World Cup. Jadeja's failure meant that there was no one to provide the much-needed firepower in the slog overs.

The long and the short of it is, Indian batsmen need to be consistent and Jadeja needs to improve to be counted an all-rounder.

Talking of batting, a word about Virat Kohli who has come to be seen as the fulcrum of Indian batting. Virat Kohli, after watching Anushka Sharma starrer NH10, reportedly tweeted recently: "Just watched #NH10 and i am blown away. What a brilliant film and specially an outstanding performance by my love @AnushkaSharma. SO PROUD:)."

It is a pity that Anushka Sharma did not get the opportunity to return the compliment and say something similar about Kohli's performance in India's semifinal match in the World Cup. But then, let's hope that the young and immensely talented Kohli makes all Indians feel proud of his batting exploits at many such events in the future.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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