ICC World Cup: Can India emulate Australia’s all-win run in 2003, 2007?

Ahead of their battle against South Africa at Eden Gardens on Sunday, a look at whether India can remain undefeated right until the World Cup final

The Indian team enjoys a moment before taking to the field during the India-Sri Lanka World Cup match at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Thursday (photo: Getty Images)
The Indian team enjoys a moment before taking to the field during the India-Sri Lanka World Cup match at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Thursday (photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

After making it seven out of seven against Sri Lanka on Thursday, 2 November, the buzz among Indian cricket fans is — can they sustain the unbeaten run until the night of 19 November? Much like Australia, the only other country to do it, in both the 2003 and 2007 editions. 

Presumptuous yes, but there is a similar aura of invincibility around Rohit Sharma & Co, fuelling expectations. Broken down, it’s a matter of four more matches to make it 11 out of 11, but even the best of teams will be inclined to believe in that cliché about cricket being a game of glorious uncertainties. 

Shane Watson, the versatile Australian allrounder and a member of their 2007 champion side, broached such a possibility in an interview before their Sri Lanka match. ‘’After their (India’s) first two games, it reminded me of Australia’s 2003 and 2007 World Cup teams. These teams had no real weaknesses and went undefeated throughout the tournament. They were so dominant, and you could see why. No teams could expose them. Currently, all Indian players are at their best,’’ said Watson, now a TV pundit for the tournament's official broadcasters. 

Can Temba Bavuma’s South Africa, who have been out-batting their opponents with a vengeance (barring one blip against underdogs Netherlands while chasing), be the side to slam the brakes on the Indian juggernaut? The upcoming clash at the Eden Gardens on Sunday has gathered a huge billing as a match between the two most in-form sides and with the group toppers’ position at stake. 

The difference between India's past and present World Cup teams is that while past squads have been generally reliant on batting icons and a handful of bowlers, the present unit is drawing strength from the collective contributions of the bowlers, who have been setting up the matches for India.

The return of Mohammed Shami to the playing eleven (correcting an anomaly, if one may add) makes the trio of Bumrah-Siraj-Shami arguably their most incisive pace attack in World Cups, while the Kuldeep Yadav-Ravindra Jadeja duo does not allow any leeway for rival batters in the middle overs.   

There is no point in pondering over if there could be an off day at this stage. The essential difference between a good team and a great one lies in its ability to pull itself over the line even when the going is not good. It’s precisely what India did after slumping to 2/3 against Australia in their opener, albeit with a slice of luck. 

It perhaps set the tone for the campaign, and they should now aim to finish the job without a blip!

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