ICC World Cup 2019: No speed limit for England batsmen
India have better team balance but none can match the free-spirited and exciting batting of England. No wonder, at the meeting of captains in London on Thursday, the hosts were projected as the team to watch at the World Cup. Virat Kohli has tipped the No 1 ranked England to break the 500 mark at the World Cup, starting on May 30.
Statistics tell the story. Since the 2015 World Cup, England have scored 300 or more the most times. They have got to the mark a whopping 38 times; India are second with 21 with Australia and South Africa next best with 18 each. It has been a stunning transformation. England, the laughing stock of the 2015 World Cup, head into their home tournament as favourites. (Schedule, news: Full coverage of ICC World Cup 2019)
BEST AVERAGE RPO
The reputation as the most dynamic team in the fray has been built on the transformation from being a conservative outfit to the most aggressive batting team. Their run rates since 2015 are most impressive. Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes don’t just go about accumulating runs. They get them at breakneck speed even if the team is under pressure. England’s average ODI run rate in the four-year period is 6.29, way better than Australia’s 5.72, South Africa’s 5.71 and India’s 5.7. West Indies, packed with power-hitters, lag at ninth among the World Cup contestants with 5.21.
EYE-OPENER IN INDIA
England’s dynamic approach was first felt by India in the home series in January 2017. Used to having it easy against them, Virat Kohli’s men were at their wit’s end trying to subdue Morgan’s men, who refused to take the foot off the pedal.
In the series opener at Pune, England rattled up 350/7. In the second ODI at Cuttack, India made 381 and England replied with 366/8. Morgan’s side was relentless. The tide turned in the final game where England pipped India by five runs at Eden Gardens. The high totals of the series reflected the changed approach: 1st ODI: England 350/7, India 356/7. 2nd ODI: India: 381/6, England 366/7. 3rd ODI: England 321/8, India 316/9.
When they met last summer in England, the series was high profile. It was a dress rehearsal for the World Cup and both were fighting for the tag of favourites. India stunned the home team by eight wickets in the opener at Trent Bridge, but England came back to take the next two, by 86 runs and eight wickets.
BUTTLER, BAIRSTOW STRIKE RATES
Like in that series, England have built their success around their formidable batting. Openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow put the opposition on the backfoot straightaway. Their aggressive batsmen have been ordered never to hold back. Morgan, Buttler, Stokes and Moeen are given the licence to go harder at the opposition even under pressure. The classical Joe Root provides balance as their anchor.
At the World Cup, all eyes will be on Buttler and Bairstow. They have scorched the turf all over with record-breaking hundreds. It’s almost become a competition between the two. Buttler has a 46-ball hundred vs Pakistan in Nov, 2015; 50-ball hundred vs Pakistan in May 2019, 60-ball hundred vs West Indies in 2019; 66-ball hundred vs New Zealand in 2015; 73-ball hundred vs South Africa, 2016. While Bairstow got a 54-ball hundred vs Scotland in 2018; 58-ball hundred vs New Zealand in 2018 and a 69-ball hundred vs Australia in 2018.
India have a better bowling attack overall, but Jofra Archer’s inclusion will sharpen the hosts’ bowling arsenal. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid is another match-winner.