Stopping short of citing excuses for India's series loss against Australia, Indian captain Virat Kohli said that Australia were more hungry for success. This statement is certainly a pointed one and reflects the conundrum the Indian management faces now. The hosts came into the series with a fairly settled squad for the World Cup, but with this loss, there are bound to be uneasy questions asked of them.
We take a look at three problematic areas for India ahead of the World Cup, areas which need to be addressed before the side takes the field against South Africa to kick-start their campaign.
Issue of the backup opener
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were not at their best in the entire series. Barring a bumper opening stand in Mohali, where they were are their imperious best, there was a lot left to be desired by the two seasoned campaigners. While there is little doubt over the position in the side, India do not have a backup option if one of them is ruled out.
KL Rahul got a solitary game at the number 3 slot, Rishabh Pant faltered in the middle order and barring these two, India do not quite have a backup option as the third opener in the squad.
Issue of the backup keeper
MS Dhoni will be the man behind the stumps in the World Cup, this is a given, but what if he is injured or tweaks something on the eve of an important tie? Who is the backup option?
The selectors and management gave Pant the go in the final two matches of the series, but the young man was far from impressive behind the stumps, especially against the spinners. He fumbled around in Mohali and struggled with the bat in Delhi. Will the selectors look at Dinesh Karthik again, and will the upcoming IPL give more clarity about the same?
Middle over woes
This has been a problem for India in the recent past, both with the bat and ball. The top order has more often than not got the job done for the side, but when they have failed to click, the middle order has not been able to handle the pressure.
Also, the middle overs were quite problematic against Australia in the just-concluded series. Kuldeep Yadav was not penetrative and the spinners were attacked, which left Kohli fumbling around for options to contain runs and pick up wickets. The pitches in England are expected to be flat where controlling the middle phase becomes imperative for sides to get the results in their favour.