Fletcher upbeat about India's World Cup chances
India coach Duncan Fletcher believes MS Dhoni's men have a "good" chance to win the World Cup. Such confidence comes from India's performances in the last three ICC tournaments where they lost just two matches overall, Fletcher said.
"What makes this team special is that over the last few years they have faced all kinds of situations in limited-overs cricket and have shown they are capable of coming out successfully from all of them," Fletcher told bcci.tv. "That's why I say we have a good chance to win this World Cup."
India won the Champions Trophy in 2013, and reached the final of the 2014 World Twenty20. Fletcher said the team had been building towards the World Cup for the last few years.
"A big reason for my belief is our Champions Trophy victory in England. We played in very foreign conditions that didn't suit the side and yet we played so well that we didn't lose a single match. That shows that the side is used to winning and that's really exciting."
The defending World Cup champions have included just four players from the 2011 campaign, but Fletcher said the current squad had gained exposure in tournaments such as the Champions Trophy. "We do want experience. You cannot beat experience. Now, we have played three ICC tournaments in the last three years - the World T20 2012 and 2014, and the Champions Trophy 2013. And people will be surprised to see that we have only lost two games in all of which one was the final. That is quite a record to be proud of. And the team in all those tournaments was more or less the same. So, these boys do have the experience when it comes to the big tournaments and they do know how to win them."
According to Fletcher, another area where India have an advantage over other teams is in holding their nerve during pressure moments. "One-day cricket is all about handling extreme pressure when the side is down; understanding where the game is poised at that stage and finding your way out of that situation to end up on the winning side. Our excellent record when chasing totals shows that. The team has been led by MS Dhoni's attitude. Most other sides can't do it because under such pressure, you lose your cool, the decision-making becomes cluttered and you lose your way. Because MS is so adept at soaking in the pressure, we have done well in those situations. It is important to be calm and take the game all the way and win with maybe three balls to spare. People might say, 'Oh, they barely got home', but getting home is the most important thing."
India had a fair advantage in understanding the conditions, Fletcher said, having been in Australia since November. Playing marquee matches against Pakistan in Adelaide and South Africa in Melbourne, India would be confident as they knew the nature of the pitches, which Fletcher said are likely to retain their slow and flat nature during the World Cup.
Fletcher said he was mostly happy with the India batsmen's performances in the recent Test series but pointed out that it would help them to understand when to take risks. "The one area they need to work on is their risk assessment. In the Test matches, at times, I felt like they got themselves out. Now they need to understand what shots are on in certain situations. That will be one important aspect for us to work on in the tri-series."
Fletcher agreed that the India bowling, especially the fast bowlers, had not performed well in the Border- Gavaskar Trophy, but felt they had received a lot of unwarranted criticism. "I agree there is a lot of work to do with the bowlers and they must realize their responsibilities at Test level. But I also think the Indian pacers get a lot of unwarranted flak. You look at the highest wicket-takers in the Test series. (Mohammed) Shami (15 wickets at 35.80) has taken more wickets than (Mitchell) Johnson (13 wickets at 35.53) at a similar average. And this was Shami's first tour here. Umesh Yadav (11 at 49.81) has only one wicket less than Josh Hazlewood (12 at 29.33).
"As for in the World Cup, we have to remember that when we won the Champions Trophy, the bowlers defended a very, very low total for us and they must be given credit for that. I feel that they are much more confident when they bowl in the one-day game because they have played more amount of limited-overs cricket with the ODIs, IPL and T20Is."
Fletcher said he was "nervous" when it came to having a quality allrounder. "That's one area that makes me a bit nervous. What we need in these conditions is a good batting allrounder who bowls seam. That will add depth in our batting and give us that extra bowler. That is the real reason why we have Stuart Binny in the squad. We'll have to have a close look at him here because batting deep is going to be very, very important in this World Cup."