Cricket World Cup: Which team will your shirt be on? A nation - India

Click to follow
The Independent Online
VERDICT: The pre-tournament speculation has been about how much better others are suited to the conditions. Although it is true that their leg-spinner, Anil Kumble, might not prosper as he does elsewhere, such dismissive chatter might do them good. For the first time they have a decent seam attack. Not too much should be read into their defeat by Pakistan last month in Sharjah. They collapsed in the final but were without their talisman, Sachin Tendulkar, the world's best batsman. India's progress is likely to stop at the Super Six stage but if the little prince is in form they can go anywhere.

EMERGING HERO: At 21, Ajit Agarkar represents the future of Indian cricket but he has already played 36 one-day internationals and taken 68 wickets with his deceptively brisk fast-medium at a strike rate of one wicket every 27 balls.

ACHILLES' HEEL: Their captain, Mohammad Azharuddin is the most experienced of all one-day internationalists, but while his sparkling technique is barely diminished he may not only be jaded after 314 matches but also failing to get the best from his players.

HISTORICAL POINT: India's greatest moment arrived the last time the World Cup was held in England. They began the competition at odds of 66-1, had to recover from 17 for 5 against Zimbabwe at the group stage and went on to beat the apparently invincible West Indies in the final in which Kris Srikkanth (38) made the highest score and Mohinder Amarnath was man of the match.

SILLY POINT: On India's most recent tour of England, in 1996, they started too slowly, affected not only by the cold but by an outbreak of tummy upsets. As their batsman, Sanjay Manjrekar, remarked: "You just can't trust English food."

RECORD: 1975 1st round; 1979 1st round; 1983 winners; 1987 semi-final; 1992 1st round; 1996 semi-final.

SQUAD: M Azharuddin (capt), A D Jadeja, S C Ganguly, S R Tendulkar, S Ramesh, R S Dravid, R R Singh, N R Mongia, A B Agarkar, A Kumble, J Srinath, B K Venkatesh Prasad, N Chopra, A R Khurasia, D S Mohanty.

ODDS: 10-1.