There is no doubt that most members of the Indian team that has been selected to defend the crown have great talent. But talent alone cannot win matches. India also had talented players in 1992 when the World Cup was last held in Australia and New Zealand. They had a legend in Kapil Dev, a great batsman and captain in Azharuddin, two brilliant all-rounders in Manoj Prabharkar and Ravi Shastri, an explosive opener in Srikkanth, a future legend in Sachin Tendulkar, and future stars in Ajay Jadeja and Javagal Srinath.
Have a look at what they managed to achieve. India lost to England, West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. They managed to beat only Pakistan and Zimbabwe (their match against Sri Lanka was abandoned).
To win in Australia and New Zealand against the top teams of the world, a team has to have talent, experience as well as strong nerves.
The current Indian squad seems to be too young and, consequently, too inexperienced to tackle different opponents especially in challenging conditions.
Only one of their pacers, Ishant Sharma, has played more than 50 matches, 76 to be exact. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav have played around 40 matches. It is clear that this much experience would be too little to dismiss strong teams such as South Africa who have players like AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.
It was the inexperience due to which India failed to win a single match in Australia ahead of the World Cup — beaten by both Australia and England.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that their bowling attack is going to miserably fail against such batsmen as David Warner, Michael Clarke, George Bailey, Eoin Morgan, Ian Bell, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson.
They have one of the best all-rounders in the shape of Ravindra Jadeja, but he has a poor record in Australia and only modest figures in New Zealand.
It is a fact that most of the Indian cricketers, particularly their batsmen, perform well either in the Subcontinent or where the conditions are similar.
If the Indian batsmen average over 40 on Asian wickets, it comes down to 30 or even less when they go abroad and face some experienced bowlers on bowler-friendly pitches.
Rohit Sharma is one of their star batsmen. He has got the “honour” of scoring two double centuries in One-day International cricket. But the first two centuries of his ODI career came in Bulawayo against hosts Zimbabwe. His third (141 not out) came in Jaipur in front of home crowd. The fourth (209) was recorded in Bangalore, again with a cheering crowd. He scored his second double ton against Sri Lanka in Kolkata, again before a supporting crowd. So the only centuries that he has scored abroad have been against the weakest team in the world.
Suresh Raina has scored five centuries in 126 matches. His first two were against Hong Kong and Bangladesh, both scored in Karachi. The third came in Dhaka, against Sri Lanka. The only century that he has scored outside the Subcontinent was against England in Cardiff against such inexperienced bowlers as Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes, Joe Root and James Tredwell.
Of course, India have the services of two world-class batsmen in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, both of whom average more than 50 runs in ODIs. But we should remember that the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar, their greatest ever batsman, scored only one century in the 47 ODIs that he played in Australia in his 24-year career. Azharuddin played 32 matches in Australia, and managed just four half centuries and no century.
So we can easily guess what is going to happen to the Indians, who are saying on television screens, “We won’t give it back.”