India are on a roll in World Cup 2023. Standing atop in the points table, the Rohit Sharma-led side have made it through to the semifinals for the fourth time in a row in the tournament history after scripting an unbeaten run so far, winning all their eight games. With still a match left and the semifinal thereafter, the legendary Sourav Ganguly has backed India to bury the ghosts of 2003 World Cup and match the most glorious streak ever recorded in the tournament by the the Ricky Ponting-led Australian side.
India have taken down some the top teams in this World Cup amid a roaring home support. They beat five-time champions Australia in their opener before beating arch-rivals Pakistan in another lopsided match and defending champions England. They also avenged their 2019 semifinal loss against New Zealand and later thrashed South Africa, which was deemed as their toughest test in the tournament.
20 years back, under the leadership of Ganguly, India had completed on a similar journey. Bouncing back from a loss against the Aussies in the league stage, India won eight matches in a row, which included a semifinal win against Kenya in Durban. However, they suffered a brutal loss against Australia yet again, this time in the final in Johannesburg, going down by 125 runs.
With Rohit’s side matching India’s unbeaten record of 2003, Ganguly has backed the hosts to get one better and claim the third World Cup trophy for India while matching Ponting’s record.
“I saw the stat the previous day. We had won eight matches. Rohit’s team also won eight. I want them to win all 11 matches,” the former India captain told reporters on Thursday in Kolkata.
Can India equal Ricky Ponting-led Australia’s World Cup streak?
Only one team in the history of World Cups has ever managed to clinch the elusive trophy on an unbeaten note, winning all their 11 matches throughout – Australia. They in fact achieved the feat twice, in 2003 and 2007, under the leadership of Ponting.
India still have a league match remaining, against Netherlands on Sunday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru and a win could make it nine out of nine in the round-robin stage. However, going by past World Cup campaigns, India do not have a pleasant record in the knockouts.
India had completed an unbeaten run to the semis in 2015 while finishing atop at the top of the table in 2019, but incurred a semifinal loss in both the editions. In fact, India have a 3-4 record in World Cup semifinals.
However, the manner and the margin of victories that the incumbent Indian side have scripted in this tournament, and with no team remotely matching their level of dominance so far, the hosts are indeed the hot favourites for the elusive cup.