Rahul Dravid believes that India’s strike bowlers mean they have every chance of going all the way in the upcoming 2019 Cricket World Cup.
All the talks leading up to the competition is about how to stop teams racking up huge scores, with 350 seemingly the par score during England’s recent 4-0 series win over Pakistan.
Taking wickets at the front end and during the middle overs will be key, and Dravid named three players in particular that could give India the edge over others.
“I believe, having experienced some of the conditions in England last year with the A-team tour, it would be a high-scoring World Cup,” Dravid said.
“And in a high-scoring World Cup, having bowlers who can take wickets in the middle will be very important. I think India is lucky in that regard.
“People like (Jasprit) Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal… (India have) got bowlers who can take wickets. Teams that are taking wickets through those middle overs in those high-scoring games have a better better chance of restricting the opposition.
“I think we have had a couple of really good years leading to the World Cup. For right reasons, we are No. 2 in the world (in ODIs) and that actually means that we have consistently produced some successful results in the last two and half years. We can be hopeful.
“I think it’s going to be a tough World Cup. Every team comes well prepared and wants to compete. Everyone at the World Cup will be putting their best foot forward.
“So having said that I would say India is definitely one of the favourites in the tournament and all of us can be hopeful. Hopefully we make the semi-final and from there on there are four very good teams.
“Bowling is going to play a very big role in this World Cup and the team that bowls best, probably, will be closer to winning it.”
Dravid also praised captain Virat Kohli: “Virat, you know he just keeps improving, keeps getting better.
“He is setting bars and standards that possibly we thought would never be achieved. Sachin (Tendulkar) scored 49 hundreds in one-day cricket. People thought that this would take a lot of time to achieve, will it be ever achieved… And now Virat is close to it.
“One of the things about Virat is that even if he has a bad tour – it is not that he hasn’t had bad tours, he had a disappointing tour of England in 2014, he wasn’t as successful in Australia first time around, but every time he goes back, he goes back as a better player. He sort of reinvents his game to a point where he is constantly improving.”
Finally, Dravid – who is now a coach with India U19s – hinted that MS Dhoni could be the difference maker.
“The beauty about MS is that he plays these big tournaments and these big matches… he plays them and they mean a lot (but) – I tell the Under-19 boys – he is able to find a way to play it like it doesn’t mean a lot.
“Obviously it means a lot (but) he is able to see a bigger picture in it and say I’m not defined by this particular game. It is a hard thing to do.”
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