The eventuality of unexpected results always plays an interesting role in any big cricketing event and the ongoing World Cup is no exception. Right now, in another interesting development, a strong contingent of New Zealand led by McCullum has dismissed Australia for mere 151 runs. The kiwis were so deadly that at one stage mighty Australians were 106 for 9. Earlier in this World Cup Ireland thrashed West Indies, whereas Zimbabwe had given a tough fight to South Africa and Scotland had shown their mettle against New Zealand. For many of the fans, the fight given by Afghanistan to Sri Lanka also indicates the spirit of minnows. So the message here is apparently clear for so called strong teams that do not take anyone for granted as cricket is the game known for great upsets after all.

However, among all these interesting developments taking place, legend of West Indies Brian Lara has opined that India are currently playing the “best cricket of the World Cup”. West Indies batting legend Brian Lara has insisted that the defending champions must also try their bench strength against minnows UAE in a Pool B match today as this will facilitate them to tackle any eventuality in the crucial stages later in the tournament.

Lara said, “India for me are playing the best cricket of the World Cup and they just need to make sure that they have the latitude necessary to continue winning right through to the final. I think you would expect the reserves of the Indian team to dominate the opposition (UAE). The likes of Shikhar Dhawan and (Virat) Kohli might be scoring runs now but what is important is that later on in the tournament in the critical games if India is forced to call upon somebody from the reserves then they have the time out in the middle to do so.”

He further added, “I want to see the likes of Rohit Sharma, (Suresh) Raina get in and get some runs. You never know what can happen later on in the tournament, so it’s a perfect opportunity for India to try out a few new players, get them in form, get their confidence up. It is important that you have an entire squad ready to fire and I think Dhoni and Co should be thinking about that. There should not be any reservation about winning or losing because they are playing against one of the minnows.”

However, former captain Sunil Gavaskar too seems to be thinking on the same lines but he has got apprehensions about Indian team management considering changing the winning combination except of forced replacement for injured Mohammad Shami. Gavaskar said, “It makes sense because you don’t want somebody pulling out on the morning of a knockout stage match and you will have to pick somebody who is sitting on the bench and haven’t played a game at all. So this way Bhuvneshwar Kumar gets an opportunity to show that he also is fighting for a place in the team.”

He added, “That is what they will probably look to do (play all-rounder Stuart Binny in place of a spinner) but generally teams do not changes winning combinations unless it is forced upon them. I would be surprised if they do a change tomorrow apart from the one that is being forced upon.”

He opined while concluding, “Would the Indian team make the changes that is the question. Like Brian (Lara) said I would like them to have a situation where everybody had some sort of time out in the middle”.

The equation is clearly tilting towards Team India as all other major players from South Africa to Australia and West Indies to England could not keep their slate clean and only New Zealand is fast emerging at par with India on the points table.

But it is not appropriate to predict anything as from quarterfinals the elimination round begins and just one bad innings means flying back to home. India still remain favorites of Lara and Hayden anyway.


    Established sports writer across various global platforms

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