Duncan Fletcher, India's coach, believes the team can defend their ICC World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand because of the feeling of continuity between the Test and ODIs squads as well as their ability to chase big totals. Ahead of his third World Cup as a coach, and first with India, Fletcher referred to India's unbeaten run during the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy in England as signs of the team's capability overseas.
"I am very excited, especially given the side we have. I think we are a good chance to win after the way the team has been building over the last three-four years," he said. "A big reason for my belief is our Champions Trophy (2013) 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."
India's squad for the tournament features only four members of the 2011 side - captain MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and R Ashwin - but Fletcher, 66, did not feel that a relatively young side would be overawed. "We do want experience. You cannot beat experience," he said. "We have played three ICC tournaments in the last three years the ICC World Twenty20 2012-13 and 2014, and the ICC 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.
"What makes this team special is that over the last few years they have faced all kinds of situations in the limited-overs cricket and have shown they are capable of coming out successfully from all of them. That's why I say that we have a good chance to win this World Cup."
The former England coach also stressed on the importance of continuity, and why similar Test and ODIs squads would aid India's World Cup bid. "It's very important. I truly believe that in these times if your squads are very similar in all three formats, it's a huge advantage," he said. "The players are together all the time, they know each other's games and the roles they have to play within the team. I've always believed that to play cricket, you need to have certain technical aspects not for the format you're playing but for the game on the whole.
"Since most of these boys have played in the Test series, they know the conditions well and how each player approaches his game in these conditions. When too many new players come in, it takes time for everyone to get used to their little idiosyncrasies and how they cope in certain situations. But when you know each other's strengths and weaknesses, you are doing away with the learning curve and that gives you a chance to hit the ground running."
Several members of the World Cup squad have been in Australia since late November, playing two warm-up matches and four Tests. Next is the tri-series featuring Australia and England, and Fletcher felt spending a couple months in Australia before the World Cup was a "huge advantage".
"Playing the tri-series just before the World Cup is a great idea for us in getting used to how the white ball behaves here. What's more is that we don't play these two sides (Australia and England) in the group stage and this series will be a good chance to have a look at them for the advance stages of the World Cup," he said.
India's pace attack of Varun Aaron, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar underwhelmed in the 2-0 Test series loss to Australia, but Fletcher termed it as "a lot of unwarranted flack". From that pack, Ishant, Umesh, Shami and Bhuvneshwar are in the World Cup squad and the Zimbabwean was confident of a better showing come February 15.
"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," he said. "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. They have much more experience in the shorter formats as compared to Test cricket and I am sure they will put on a good performance."
India open their World Cup campaign against Pakistan - whom they have never lost to in the tournament - at Adelaide Oval on February 15.