There is no sporting event that captures the public imagination in India as totally as the cricket World Cup. With India walking into it today—World Cup 2015 is on from February 14-March 28—to defend its 2011 victory, it will certainly find record viewership in the subcontinent. Although, the average Indian fan is not too excited by the team’s prospects. Official bookies place India as fifth-likely to win the cup—which means, chances are, we may not make it to even the semi-finals. After the 2011 high (World Cup victory, the top spot in Test rankings), the team has slipped, suffering crushing defeats in all formats at home and abroad.
Stalwarts like Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag have not made it to the Indian World Cup squad. At the same time, there are debutants like Ambati Rayudu who have proved their mettle in competitive cricket in the last two years. The gamble, it seems, is between the energy of youth and the solidness of experience. With the fairly level-headed MS Dhoni leading the team and the aggressive go-getter, Virat Kohli, as his deputy, some of the odds stacked against India, hopefully, might get evened out. As an aside, prime minister Narendra Modi has used the World Cup eve to demonstrate the fresh approach to diplomacy that his government is increasingly getting known for. The PM called the leaders of Saarc nations which are going to compete with India for the cup, including Afghanistan, which is playing for the first time. Sports, as George Orwell incisively wrote, is war minus the shooting, and Modi, undoubtedly, has scored a win in this World Cup.