Bengaluru, June 3: India are always the golden goose of international cricket. The massive crowd-pulling capacity of the team around the world makes the Men in Blue the most reliable asset for the organisers of the cricket World Cup.
An early exit of India from such a mega event virtually sounds the death knell of the tournament, as it had happened in 2007. But even as the organisers run after the golden goose, do they take enough care for the players' physical well-being?
The Indian players have been playing non-stop cricket for the past several months now and have come into this World Cup straight from a demanding Indian Premier League (IPL). It is just because of the Lodha Committee recommendations that they are to start their World Cup campaign a week late which gave the Indians some kind of rest. But while some of the other teams may yet complain that they were made to play more than one (for SA, the India game will be their third) game before India started their campaign, India can counter it by saying that they will have the most tedious schedule in hand during the tournament.
India play nine league matches in 32 days
Going by the gaps between matches, India's first match is on June 5 and the last (versus Sri Lanka) is on July 6, means they will have to complete their league phase featuring nine games in a time span of 32 days. South Africa, which played the first match of the competition against England on May 30, will also play the final one against Australia on July 6 which means they have 38 days to play their nine. India have an average of 3.875 days between games which is the lowest while South Africa with 4.625 has the highest.
In the 1992 WC, however, India had played eight league games within a span of 23 days.
After playing SA on June 5, India play Australia on June 9, New Zealand on June 13, Pakistan on June 16, Afghanistan on June 22, West Indies on June 27, England on June 30, Bangladesh on July 2 and Sri Lanka on July 6. The semi-finals are on July 9 and 11 and the final on July 14.
Professionals though complain little about such factors and India's performance wasn't affected when they were made to play against Hong Kong and Pakistan on consecutive days in the Asia Cup last September as they won both comprehensively.