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March 6, 2009
Though they have a new captain and a mix of youth and experience, just as they did in 2005, India are unlikely to reach the dizzy heights they did last time round. Losses in England and Australia prior to the World Cup have dented their confidence; add to that an unsettled opening pair, lack of experienced spinners, a fast bowling unit that failed in Australia and a dismal fielding record, and the combination does not look match-winning.
India have never done well in Australia, failing to win any of the five Tests they played there since 1977 and losing all eight ODIs since 2006. They had the chance to see two World Cup venues - North Sydney Oval and Manuka Oval - when they toured in October 2008, but could not score more than 180 runs or take more than six wickets in any of the matches.
If they are to hope for a good show in the World Cup, India could do worse than looking back to their path of success in 2005. Jhulan Goswami, Mithali Raj, Anjum Chopra, Amita Sharma and Rumeli Dhar were members of the squad that hadn't been given a chance of reaching the final. They were helped by two washed-out games but bounced back incredibly from a loss to New Zealand to beat the same opposition in the semi-final. India lost their openers for 38 but a 66-run stand between Raj and Chopra took them to an eventual total of 204. The target was modest but a run-out in the second over, followed by two wickets in four balls by Nooshin Al Khadeer put India firmly on top. The final was a forgettable affair for the Indians, but this time they will need a lot of inspiration just to get there.
Know your competition
England The toughest team of the group. Since the Ashes win in 2007, England have been brimming with confidence and have been quite unstoppable. But then India need just to avoid being bottom-placed in their group to make it to the Super Six.
Pakistan Most likely to be fourth. They struggled against India and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup and should be easy to overhaul. However, India will not take a chance and field a weaker side in their opening game of the tournament.
Sri Lanka They won all their Asia Cup matches except the ones against India but be warned. On their day they could beat an under-prepared side.
Stars of 2009
Mithali Raj seemed untouched by the ups and downs of the team as she scored 526 runs at 52.6 in 15 matches in 2008. Of her six half-centuries, three were in Sri Lanka, two in England and one in Australia. She will be India's batting mainstay and they will need her to convert the fifties into hundreds if they are to have any hope of beating the top sides.
Anjum Chopra deserves a mention for this will be her fourth World Cup. She hasn't performed above average since her comeback in the Australian series but her experience will come in handy.
Sulakshana Naik will be batting with a new opening partner after Jaya Sharma was dropped for the World Cup. Since her return to the side for the England tour - after two years out - Naik has scored more than eight runs only thrice in eight games. As the senior opener, the job of giving India a solid and fiery start will be on her.
Squad: Jhulan Goswami (captain), Amita Sharma, Anjum Chopra, Anagha Desphande (wk), Rumeli Dhar, Thirush Kamini, Harmanpreet Kaur, Reema Malhotra, Sravanthi Naidu, Sulakshana Naik, Snehal Pradhan, Mithali Raj, Punam Raut, Priyanka Roy, Gouher Sultana
Group fixturesMarch 7 - India v Pakistan, Bradman Oval
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