It’s interesting to see teams opting to field in the West Indies. The dictum on slow pitches is to bat first, yet teams prefer to chase. Such is the terror induced by the rain and Duckworth-Lewis method.
Sure, chasing has its advantages. You know how much is required in the first five overs and you have a license to hit out with gay abandon.
Fielding teams, in any case, can’t attack with gusto. They hang back and batsmen, like sharks, can smell the blood in the pool.
Since it came into vogue, the D/L method has its admirers and critics in equal measure. Usually, the team that wins doesn’t have much to say against it. However, in the match between England and West Indies, which the former lost so farcically, both Paul Collingwood and Chris Gayle tore into the system. Collingwood’s main grouse was about its applicability in Twenty20 cricket.
In the world of Duckworth-Lewis, only runs scored matter and not how many wickets are lost. Thus, teams have a license to go hammer and tongs from the outset.
A few believe that the earlier system of “Most Productive Overs” --- where high-scoring overs were counted and put as the target for the team batting second --- is a better option in T20 cricket.
Frankly, very few can work out the system but it has the official sanction. Since it has lasted for over a decade with quiet acceptance, it obviously has merit. Whether, it had factored in the nature of T20 cricket is a different matter altogether.
The din will grow, as the rain is unlikely to go away in the coming two weeks. Already four matches in the league have been affected and the teams will be on tenterhooks. Most will prefer to chase on winning the toss. The best of teams and scores might not matter.
Be that as it may, so far no major upset has happened. Yes, England lost to the West Indies, but they still are in the Super Eight stage. The existing rain formula is meant to weigh and balance out all factors for a fair result. However, in this case, winning the toss has acquired an unusual and unfair advantage.
There will be some respite though with the venues shifting to Barbados and St Lucia where one can expect better weather and better pitches.
Barbados has pace and the composition of teams will be crucial. India will have to strengthen their pace department. Gautam Gambhir’s return is a good sign as the top order will be tested by the Aussie pace battery on a pitch with pace and bounce.