Nobody can predict the future – no one can say for sure which team will lift the ICC World Cup trophy on 14th of July 2019. However, often, past patterns and current reality is used to make predictions and analysis about the future, and going by that, it is highly likely that India will not win the World Cup in 2019. Not because they have some chinks in their armor or many top players are out of form – but because there’s another team that’s peaking right now – England.
The Australians were once called the ‘Invincibles’, but after a long spell of dominance, they were grounded by other teams who caught up with them in terms of skills and execution. However, at their peak, the Australian cricket team was undefeatable. Every team going on with a contest with the Aussies knew they will have to pull something spectacular to stop their winning chariot. Outside of cricket, the challenge of defeating Roger Federer, when he was at his peak, comes close. England is at the cusp of the evolution any team will like to go through, and it will be their World Cup to lose.
England are currently the No.1 ranked side in the world – the next three ranked teams, India, New Zealand, and South Africa have been beaten quite convincingly by England in the last eighteen months. In the last bilateral series England played against India, they came from behind to win the series – it is also worthwhile to mention that England has not lost a bilateral series against any other country since January 2017. Currently, England hold two of the three largest ODI totals – their 481/6 against Australia and 444/3 against Pakistan – both in their own familiar conditions – is a testament to how powerful the team is at its own soil. For any skeptic, it will be good to remember that England have won 25 of the last 30 ODI matches played at England.
India, the rank 2 side in ICC’s rankings is being touted as one of the strong contenders for this year’s World Cup. They have picked up a well-balanced side, however, the exclusion of Rishabh Pant and selection of Dinesh Karthik has raised some eyebrows. As far as India’s ODI performance is concerned, they may not have won a bilateral series in the recent past, they have given England a tough fight. However, when it comes to the difference in terms of skill and quality, England seem to have a superior side. Plus, playing at the swinging English conditions is also likely to create more challenges for the Indian team during their campaign. The fortunes of India vs England in English soil have not been really spectacular, which puts additional pressure on Virat Kohli’s men to perform. Despite writing all of this, I know that analysts have been proven wrong more often than not. Examples – India’s 1983 win, Sri Lanka’s 1996 win, Pakistan’s 1992 win, and Australia’s 2003 win. Although stats and figures may tell a story, ultimately cricket is a game of emotion, and one single player can turn a match on its head.