A trend seen in this World Cup so far is that unlike one-dayers in the subcontinent, acceleration in the slog overs is something teams have failed to achieve. The primary reason has been the size of most grounds in Australia, and in New Zealand where the boundaries are shorter but the ball moves for a considerably longer period.
So, most batting units are looking to score at a uniform pace throughout the match while taking calculated risks trying to exploit field restrictions. India are calling it sustained aggression.
The first 10 overs is when the ball is hard and the batsmen have the best chance of getting value for their shots. A good start can go a long way in deciding how the rest of the innings shapes up.
After the match against Pakistan, skipper MS Dhoni had pointed out that Indian bowlers were giving away too many boundary deliveries in the first 10 overs, and once a team gets momentum, it can be difficult to stop them because there is more pressure on the slow bowlers to check runs rather than attack.
Keeping it tight
India did brilliantly against South Africa, conceding just three fours in the first 10 overs which included a top edge by Quinton de Kock. "It was a fantastic performance. Maybe the wicket also helped us a bit, but still hitting the right areas, the length according to the wicket, was crucial. I felt that was the main aspect where we were really good," Dhoni said of his pacers.
"They quickly assessed what was the right length to bowl, and didn't give too much room. When it was swinging they made sure they bowled a tight length, and when it stopped swinging they were still bowling close to the batsmen's body. They never gave extra width, and most of their batsmen, they love that extra width. In the first 10 overs, this was definitely one of our best performances in the recent past," Dhoni said.
Runs as buffer
But Indian bowlers did this with a total of 300 on the board and the batsmen already under pressure. On both occasions, the batsmen have looked to get their eye in, and get used to the conditions first. Two run outs in two matches have upset them a bit but 100-plus partnerships that followed steadied the ship. That strategy worked batting first, but over the next few matches India will have to see how it works batting second. With a quarterfinal berth all but confirmed, India can try out a few more things.