World Cup 2019: Weekly Roundup- Henry, Starc and Thomas defy pre-World Cup expectations
Death of ODI cricket. ODI's have turned into a bat vs bat contest. 350 will be a below par score during the World Cup. Despite several such doom and gloom predictions before the WC, a completely different situation has unfolded, courtesy some firebrand fast bowling from the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Oshane Thomas, Mitchell Starc and Matt Henry
However those predictions weren't off the mark as huge scores were the default story in ODI cricket through the last four years in England. Here are some stats to back it up.
1) 300+ totals were scored on 43 occasions since the 2015 World Cup till the start of the ongoing World Cup.
2) England have scored 45.79 runs per wicket at a run rate of 6.54 in the same period.
3) There were totals of 300 or more on 46 occasions in this year"s Royal London Cup.
So, it was not a surprise when everyone expected high-scoring matches to be the theme for the 2019 World Cup. However, Virat Kohli had stated in the pre-tournament joint press conference that given the added pressure, 260-270 could be a defendable total in the latter half of the tournament.
Now that a week has passed in the World Cup, those words sound so true considering that there have been a lot of relatively low scoring thrillers. Out of the 20 innings that have been played out so far, 300+ totals have been scored only on 5 occasions. Conversely, there have been 13 occasions where a team total has scored below 250.
This shows that tracks at traditionally batting friendly grounds have not been so straightforward. While Sophia Gardens, Cardiff has provided greenish tracks, the pitch at The Rose Bowl for India's World Cup opening clash against South Africa extracted a lot of bounce and seam movement for the fast bowlers.
This has meant that there have been only 3 hundreds (Rohit Sharma, Jos Buttler and Joe Root) in the World Cup until now. Even out of those 3, Rohit Sharma's hundred wasn't as flashy one like so many of his hundreds are. Rohit had to bide his time early on in the inning as South Africa's Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo used the bowler-friendly pitch to their advantage.
When it comes to bowlers, Mitchell Starc has picked the only fifer so far while the likes of Pat Cummins, Matt Henry, Yuzvendra Chahal and Oshane Thomas have put in match-winning performances.
The first week of the World Cup 2019 has set the premise of the tournament to be a close fought one. Defending champions Australia and the runners up New Zealand have started off their respective World Cup campaigns on a great note with 2 consecutive wins. India, having only played their first match on June 5 are the only other team to maintain an unbeaten record. Hosts England lie at fourth place in the points table after winning one and losing one game so far. On the other hand, South Africa and Afghanistan lie at the bottom end of the points table after losing both of their matches.
Both, Pakistan and Sri Lanka notched up wins against England and Afghanistan respectively after losing their first match. Their wins were impressive considering that both sides came off a hammering in their first match.
Meanwhile, West Indies and Bangladesh lost close matches in their second outing after posting superb wins in their opening encounter. It has to be said that both West Indies and Bangladesh have been the surprise packages of this World Cup with their unexpected showings. If they can keep up the good show, there might be a chance for one of them to sneak into the semi-finals.
Overall, the start of this World Cup has produced more than a few exciting matches due to the balance between bat and ball. Such balance has been managed because ICC take charge of the pitches for international tournaments while in bilateral tours, the host country is allowed to prepare pitches as per their advantage.
However, the ICC would have been aware of the possible after effects of a high-scoring World Cup and thus sporting pitches have been on display so far. This augurs well for the rest of the World Cup as too many high-scoring matches would have made the tournament dull and predictable. This will also test the adaptability of teams and that will in turn produce a worthy winner at the end of the World Cup.