Why Team India need to win the World Cup this time
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A few metres away from the Gateway of India, cutting through the crowd of screaming fans, one piercing question leapt out at Greg Chappell. "Will we win the World Cup?"
The coach, who had just stepped out of the team hotel, paused for a second, grinned, and stepped into the waiting car. It's a question that has been flung at him from almost every corner of the country. In a crowded hotel lobby in Vizag, at dinner in Goa, during a shopping trip in distant Alappuzha, and now on a Mumbai street. And it's a question he knows will continue to haunt him over the next 60 days in the West Indies.
What is the answer?
We will, say the hundreds of advertising hoardings, clippings and the brains behind them. We can, offers the coach. We should, say the players. Perhaps, the real question that needs to be chewed on is why this Indian team, so desperately, needs to win the World Cup.
Beyond the obvious, the truth is that never has a cricket team gone to the World Cup with so much at stake. And here's why.
You have a coach who is at the end of a contract, hoping that the BCCI would ask him to stay on for two years more. For Chappell, a semi-final slot is the least he needs to bring back to the table when talks for the future start. The hard-talking Aussie has, by and large, managed to push his gameplan through over the last year, but if there's one area where he has stumbled, it is his communication with senior players like Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh.
An early end to India's World Cup will mean the simmering tension is bound to pop up again —something that Indian cricket could definitely do without. And of course, there's his vision still waiting to turn into reality, his process of forging a new Indian team, one that will emerge from the shadows of veterans like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
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