India’s defence of the Cricket World Cup got off to a terrific start in Adelaide with a convincing win over Pakistan on Sunday. That extended its success against its rival to six wins out of six in the history of the tournament. There is a long way to go in the 2015 version, but there are signs – some rooted deeply in science – that India will lift its third Cricket World Cup come the end of March.
In a word: The 26-year-old Delhi boy is the David Beckham of cricket, but unlike the English underpants horse he actually plays for a decent team that has pedigree at major tournaments. Beckham and his English soccer mob were never going to win a World Cup. They were more likely to win a scone-making competition at a village fête. Actually, they’d probably be disqualified for mixing up the jam and cream.
2 VIRAT KOHLI
In two words: Virat Kohli. While no team can rely on one man, particularly during a World Cup campaign, if Kohli plays well – as he did on Sunday when he became the first Indian to score a century against Pakistan at a World Cup – he lifts the spirits of his teammates, which helps them outperform too. He also has an unrivaled ability to rile opponents, which distracts and unsettles them. The best teams always have star players who annoy the opposition .
3 NO SACHIN TENDULKAR
‘Sacrilege!’ We hear you say, ‘How dare you! He’s the greatest cricketer ever! He’s a god in India! Blah, blah, blah.’ Sure, Tendulkar was the best, but now that he’s retired, the Indian players can focus on their game rather than get constantly bombarded with questions about Sachin.
Apart from the co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, the Indian team will have the greatest number of supporters at this World Cup. The Swami Army and thousands of other fans become the so-called 12th man of the team, cheering when things go well, cheering when things go wrong, cheering when someone takes a single, and dancing all the time.
India’s cricketers have the best hair at the World Cup. This team isn’t short of luxuriant locks and Shikhar Dhawan is in the early running for haircut of the tournament. Good hair worked for Samson, and it might just work for India.