Oval dimensions warrant amend in approach
Having already played in Adelaide once, India know how to tackle its unique boundaries.
The Oval here is actually oval in shape. It may be unusual for a cricket ground but the dimensions make much more sense once you get to know it underwent a change during the 2011-14 redevelopment when the turf became 183mx134m to become more suitable for Australian Rules Football, for which the playing field dimensions are 167m x 124m. So from the centre pitch, the square boundaries are around 66 metres and the straight boundaries approximately 90 metres without considering the advertisement boards and the actual boundary rope, which brings it down to around 63 metres and 86 metres.
Bowling and batting strategy needs a fair bit of tinkering when you take into account these measurements. From the batting point of view, pulls and hooks make more sense with the shorter square boundaries while straighter shots could be a no-no if the batter is not sure of connecting well. Fast bowlers could be advised not to bowl short on this pitch while spinners could be given the freedom to toss it up. India already have a headstart in this regard, having played against Bangladesh while England will be playing here for the first time.
“Adelaide is one ground where again, you have to go back and understand what sort of tactics you want to use here because the last game we played in Melbourne, completely different. Now in Adelaide, the side boundaries are a little shorter,” said India captain Rohit Sharma before their semi-final. “We've had a lot of talks about it before we played that game against Bangladesh since we've been playing on grounds which had longer side boundaries, so you could bowl your slower balls into the pitch, the bouncers and the batsmen needed to adjust to that. But when we came to Adelaide it was a completely different scenario, and we do understand that having played a game here, we do understand what we need to come up with when it comes to planning and tactics.”
The average score batting first in Adelaide during this World Cup has been 157, with New Zealand’s 185/6 being the highest so far. But England captain Jos Buttler has set his bar higher, choosing 165 as a par score batting first. Chasing has been difficult here, with teams successfully defending totals four out of six matches. “If we set first, we want to post a score that can't be chased, and obviously we'll be confident to chase anything down batting second,” said Buttler. “Historically I think if you look at the stats, it shows about 165 is around the par score here, but I'm not really interested in a par score, I'm interested in a winning score tomorrow.”
Spinners have been more economical here but since taking wickets is also important, it remains to be seen how the two teams go about it on a used pitch that is expected to assist more turn this time. In Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, England have a set pair that can not only fulfil the matchups but also produce runs lower down the order. India have not shown that faith in Yuzvendra Chahal’s leg spin. But if there was ever an opportunity to field a wicket-taking—and not just economical—spinner, Adelaide’s long boundaries are built to order for this gamble. “We know in T20 cricket if you can take wickets, you can stem the flow of runs and there are some really good spinners on both teams, so I'm sure they'll be trying to do it,” said Buttler.