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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

World Cup proving 50-over format worth preserving

The unpredictable Pakistan provided the perfect example of this warning; bounced out for a miserable 105 by a buoyant West Indies pace attack, they rebounded to flout an England bowling unit that attempted a similar tactic.

cricket Updated: Jun 09, 2019 10:02 IST
Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
New Delhi
India's Rohit Sharma celebrate reaching his century during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between South Africa and India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, southern England, on June 5, 2019.
India's Rohit Sharma celebrate reaching his century during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between South Africa and India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, southern England, on June 5, 2019. (AFP)
         

The 2019 World Cup has lived up to the expectations of an elite tournament, what with some tight finishes, a couple of upsets and individual batting and bowling highlights.

Contrary to expectations it has not been a batting exhibition and the bowlers have done an excellent job in restricting totals. The predominant tactic has been the short-pitched delivery used in liberal doses. Despite the success achieved with the short-pitched delivery it comes with a warning; the bouncer must be well directed, otherwise it can be costly. (Full Coverage of ICC World Cup 2019)

The unpredictable Pakistan provided the perfect example of this warning; bounced out for a miserable 105 by a buoyant West Indies pace attack, they rebounded to flout an England bowling unit that attempted a similar tactic.

However, the bowling hasn’t been all fire and brimstone. Yuzvendra Chahal provided a wrist spin master-class in demolishing the hapless South African middle order and Mohammad Nabi brought the admirable Afghanistan back into the contest with Sri Lanka, showing you don’t have to spin big to outwit batsmen.

Also Read: Rohit reacts on Dhoni’s glove controversy

India and Australia made ideal starts and their clash at the Oval should provide more clarity on their likely progress. West Indies unmasked the fragility in Australia’s top order against short-pitched deliveries but they didn’t have the bowling versatility to finish the task.

It was the Indian pace bowlers who unravelled Aaron Finch’s technique in Australia. If India do plough through Australia’s top order, they then have the variety to keep the pressure on throughout the innings. Nevertheless, any team planning to stop Australia had better find a way to dismiss Steve Smith; in his enforced absence, teams haven’t solved the riddle of his eccentric, but highly successful, technique.

There is no doubting England’s batting power. Jos Buttler amply displayed his ability in blasting Pakistan’s attack to all parts but England’s attack also leaked runs at a concerning rate. England may have to revise the thought that they can chase any target and become a bit more frugal with the ball.

Also Read: Not Mitchell Starc, stats prove this Australian bowler is the biggest threat to India

In a World Cup teams are constantly facing good opposition. It’s also a different coloured outfit each game in the round robin stages and this requires a change in strategy from playing a series of matches against the same opponent.

The big three, India, England and Australia, are still the front-runners for the trophy with New Zealand doing what they do so well; chugging along almost unnoticed and taking advantage of a friendly early schedule.

With South Africa not waiting for the knockout stages to effect a painful, self-inflicted exit, New Zealand look the team most likely to fill out the semi-final quartet. Their biggest dangers are a typically unpredictable Pakistan and a robust West Indies team that finally looks like it’s capable of regaining the threatening status in more than just T20.

The other conclusion to be drawn from the early stages of the World Cup; the 50-over game is worth preserving.

The ODI is a good game of cricket whereas T20, for all its public appeal, lies somewhere between a sporting contest and a good night’s entertainment. For those administrators who seem to believe cricket can survive on T20 alone, they need to have a re-think.

They should consider whether they want to be part of a group that deprives the future youth from playing a worthwhile form of the game.

They should also ponder on a game that provides the contrast of Joe Root’s exquisite touch and the timing and brute power of Buttler in scoring centuries in the same innings. And consider a game with the variety provided by the swing and lethal yorkers of Mitchell Starc, the blistering bouncers of Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell along with the guile of Chahal.

The 2019 World Cup has been a timely reminder of how the ODI is a really good and entertaining game of cricket when teams are constantly on the lookout for wickets.

First Published: Jun 09, 2019 10:01 IST

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