The Indian squad that will be playing in the ICC World Cup 2015    Getty Images
The Indian squad that will be playing in the ICC World Cup 2015 Getty Images

Back in 2003, India went into the World Cup in South Africa following a disastrous tour to New Zealand. Twelve years down the line, India face a similar predicament leading into the ICC World Cup 2015. India had bounced back in 2003 to make it to the final. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes that MS Dhoni s men can take heart from Sourav Ganguly s troops of 2003.

Go back to the year 2003, when India arrived in South Africa for the ICC World Cup after an embarrassing defeat in New Zealand. Through 2002, the team had grown in leaps and bounds as a one-day unit, but New Zealand exposed India during a 2-5 drubbing towards the end of the year. And, that struggle continued in the rainbow nation! India faltered in the practice matches, huffed and puffed against the Netherlands and were then humiliated by Australia. With all the protests and unrest back home, India got its act together and put up a spirited show through to the final.

In some ways, India s build-up to the ICC World Cup 2015 is similar to 2003. This time around, India had a reasonable successful time in 2014 and then slipped into a rut during the tough tour Down Under. India failed to win a game in the tri-series, where they were one of the favourites given their one-day form. The batting failed to perform as a unit and the bowling was found wanting. To add to their woes, there have been injury concerns that cast a shadow over their preparations leading into the tournament.

The current batting line-up can take inspiration from the Sourav Ganguly-led unit of 2003. Sachin Tendulkar led the fightback in the 2003 World Cup and the others followed suit. He had the senior stalwarts in Ganguly and Dravid for company. Plus, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif had come through well to form a good line-up. Virat Kohli will have to take that Tendulkar-like role with the others batting around him. India have the strength in their batting, and it is only a matter of them upping the ante. In 2003, they bounced back and an encore is needed in 2014.

The Sourav Ganguly-led 2003 team outclassed the oppositions, especially Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka    Getty Images
The Sourav Ganguly-led 2003 team outclassed their oppositions, especially Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand Getty Images

However, there are some key differences. While the core of the team was intact for over a year, the Indian team of 2003 had more stability when compared to the present unit. Particularly the bowling attack, where the four frontline seamers and two spinners had been in the side for a long time. Twelve years down the line, MS Dhoni has a very unsettled bowling attack. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami have been the only stable fast bowling options, with the former struggling for fitness. There could be a possibility of Ishant Sharma missing out on the World Cup.

But, man to man, the 2003 unit was a better team as well considering the greats who were a part of the unit. That team had a good blend of youth and experience. This time around, only four players have featured in World Cups before. The big stage would be a maiden experience for a majority of the squad members. It will be a challenge but this youthful unit is known to be unfazed in the face of adversity.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)