Once again their squad is stacked with talent, with Kohli leading the way. Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav are the promising bowlers in the ranks, having honed their skills in the Indian Premier League.
India have not always lived up to their billing at past tournaments and the team will once again be under scrutiny to make the semi-final stage at the least.
India were knocked out in the semi-final stage of the World Cup four years ago by winners Australia. The Aussies denied India a chance to win back-to-back crowns following their victory in 2011.
Since then Kohli’s men have been one of the best sides in the world in the 50-over format, although they’ve lost their spot at the top of the world rankings to England. India reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in England two years ago. They were impressive in their run, only to be defeated by their bitter rivals Pakistan at Lord’s.
India have won six bilateral series on the bounce before losing to England 2-1 last year, and although they recovered to win the Asia Cup without Kohli, there have been a couple of recent concerns. Kohli’s men took a 2-0 lead against Australia on home soil, only to lose three matches on the bounce to suffer a series’ defeat.
In their first warm-up match for the World Cup, India were trounced by New Zealand, being reduced to 115-8 before losing by six wickets. They will have to adjust to conditions quickly to avoid a premature exit similar to the 2007 tournament were they failed to advance beyond the group stage.
Virat Kohli – Kohli is the world’s leading batsman in the 50-over format. He has proven time and again with his quality in the middle. The 30-year-old has scored an astounding 41 centuries in his 227 matches for his country, boasting an average of 59.57. There has not been a player of his calibre in ODI format before and he will be determined to make his mark at the tournament. Captaining India is perhaps the most stressful position in cricket, especially in the World Cup. However, he has displayed the composure to cope with the pressure, improving the standard of his performances in the middle with the added burden of the leadership role.
Kohli’s form for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL was up and down, although he did notch a century in the early stages of the competition. His record in England has not been as superior has it has been elsewhere, notching only one of his 41 centuries in the conditions. Kohli has proven his doubters wrong in the past and it would be fitting for him to lead the charge for India by top scoring in the tournament. Back the 30-year-old at odds of 8/19.00+8008.008.00-0.13 with Bet365 to be the tournament’s top batsman and 11/82.38+1381.381.38-0.72 to be India’s top batsman.
Jasprit Bumrah – Bumrah arrives in England in form after playing a crucial role in guiding Mumbai Indians to the IPL crown. The pace bowler was outstanding in the final against the Chennai Super Kings. He held his nerve with ball in hand to concede only 14 runs from his four overs, claiming two wickets in the process.
Every runs was crucial in the final as the Indians edged to victory by a single, proving the worth of Bumrah’s miserly spell. The 25-year-old will need that ability in abundance in the World Cup to keep the power hitters at bay. Bumrah has impressive statistics in the 50-over game, taking 85 wickets in his 49 matches at an average of 22.15.
His economy rate is even important in the context of the tournament. Bumrah concedes an average of 4.15 runs per over – he hands India a huge advantage over their rivals. The 25-year-old did not play in the last World Cup and he was not overly convincing in the Champions Trophy two years ago. He will be desperate to make his mark on the international stage with a fine run of performances. Back him to lead the World Cup in wickets at odds of 12/113.00+120012.0012.00-0.08 with Bet365 and to lead the India bowlers at 2/13.00+2002.002.00-0.50 .
India have all the talent to go all the way and there’s no excuse for them not to be in the final. With Kohli in the ranks they have the best batsman in the competition and an impressive line-up of players alongside him, including Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma at the top of the innings. Dhawan led the way for India with the most runs in the Champions Trophy. He has experience of the conditions and has to ease the pressure on his skipper in the middle.
Handling the pressure will be a bigger test for the Indian players. However, they all have the experience of playing in the IPL and were measured enough in their run to the Champions Trophy final. India’s bowlers do hand them an advantage over the rest of the field. Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are all capable of running though opposing line-ups on their day. In a potential final against England, those bowlers could be the difference. Back India to win the competition for the third time in their history at odds of 3/14.00+3003.003.00-0.33 with 888Sport.