Cricket World Cup Team Preview: Indians aim for title defence

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Number of previous appearances: 10

Last appearance: 2011

Best finish: Champions (1983, 2011)

2014 ODI record: Played 24, Won 14, Lost 8, Tied 1, No Result 1

Pool: B

First 3 fixtures: Pakistan, South Africa, United Arab Emirates

Coach: Duncan Fletcher

Squad: Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav.

Top runscorer: Virat Kohli. Only two men in the world scored more ODI runs than India’s new Test captain in 2014, as he became the second-best batsman in the format, behind AB de Villiers. Playing in Australia won’t hinder his form, as 692 runs in the recent four-match Test series with the Baggy Greens showed.

Virat-Kohli-15-1-15

Top wicket taker: Mohammed Shami. The 24-year-old enjoyed a bowler’s version of the success Kohli experienced with the bat during the 2014 ODI season, taking a world-leading 38 wickets in his 16 matches and claiming a scalp with every 22 balls he bowled in that time. The conditions in Australia and New Zealand will suit his skiddy style too.

Mohammed-Shami-15-1-15

Magic man: MS Dhoni. Having somewhat surprisingly called time on his Test match career to concentrate on limited-overs cricket, Dhoni should be hell-bent on proving his decision correct at the World Cup. As calm and collected a finisher in tight run chases that the game has ever seen, India can never be written off with their skipper at the crease.

Pre-tournament storyline: With only four men from the 2011 winning squad retained for the defence, leaving out Yuvraj Singh, who was man of the tournament four years ago, hammered home the idea that Indian cricket is well and truly being guided by new stars. Luckily most of them are pretty handy, making Yuvraj’s absence barely felt.

Tournament odds: 4/1

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.