All-rounders - the new match winners
There was a time when a cricketing country like Pakistan was known for its bowlers, Australia for its captains and India for its batsmen. While the situation is still the same in some of these countries, the overall trend is slowly changing. All-rounders will and are already ruling the roost.
The impact of all-rounders in winning matches:
If we look at the recently-concluded India-England Test series, barring Virat Kohli, the other exceptional performers who won matches for their teams were all-rounders- Sam Curran in the Birmingham Test, Chris Woakes at Lord's, Moeen Ali at Southampton and Hardik Pandya with his five-wicket burst at Nottingham. Furthermore, Sam Curran went on to win the Man of the Series award for his useful contributions.
It goes without saying that the difference between the two sides was the relative abundance and better contributions of England's all-rounders. Ravi Sastri even mentioned that Sam Curran was the difference between the two sides, which isn't entirely false.
The success of all-rounders is not just limited to Tests. In the recent Asia Cup, emerging ODI sides such as Afghanistan were able to win matches mainly because of their all-rounders Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. With their help, Afghanistan eliminated one of the tournament favorites, Sri Lanka, in the knockout rounds, as well as losing last over games to Pakistan and Bangladesh, while tying against India.
It will be no surprise if Afghanistan repeats such results in the upcoming ODI World Cup.
The demand for all-rounders is evident as players like Andre Russell, Rashid Khan, Sunil Narine, Hardik and Krunal Pandya have become the most sought-after players during T20 events like IPL and Big Bash League.
Team India and its all-rounders
The rise and success of teams like England and Afghanistan in the ODIs can largely be attributed to the consistency of their all-rounders. They not only provide breakthroughs by taking crucial wickets, but also add depth to the batting line-ups by scoring important runs for their teams in almost every match in crucial moments.
If we consider India, although they has no dearth of all-rounders, it does lack in quality. Hardik Pandya is still a batsman who can bowl, but not a complete all-rounder. Kedhar Jadhav is a batsman who can occasionally bowl (he is getting better match by match) and Jadeja, the all-rounder, has returned to the ODI team after almost 2 years.
If India are to win the 2019 World Cup, it has to extract better performances from its all-rounders to win matches.