The T20 World Cup got underway in Australia more than a week ago and it has already had its fair share of excitement and upsets. After Namibia stunned Asian champions Sri Lanka in the very first match of the tournament, West Indies were shown the door by Ireland and New Zealand thrashed Australia in the opening match of the Super 12.
Moreover, India beat Pakistan in a modern-day classic in Melbourne and Australia registered an easy win against Sri Lanka. We look forward to matches like Australia vs. England, India vs. South Africa and England vs. New Zealand etc. and the clash between teams for places in the last four promises to be mouth-watering.
On that note, we will take a look at three factors that have stood out thus far in the T20 World Cup so far:
#1 Seam movement and bounce early on in the innings
As expected, there is a lot of bounce on the Australian wickets that is aiding the new ball bowlers. Moreover, there has been a fair amount of grass on most of the wickets and it is causing seam movement early on in the innings.
We saw a prodigious amount of seam movement in the opening match between Namibia and Sri Lanka despite the pitch being on the slower side. Then the Indian bowlers got a lot of swing and seam movement against Pakistan and the Australian bowlers also had the ball move into the right-handed Sri Lankan batters off the seam.
Pacers like Arshdeep Singh, Sam Curran and Tim Southee have been very successful so far using the movement of the ball. Arshdeep also utilised the extra bounce of the surface in Melbourne to great effect by bowling well-placed bouncers.
#2 Necessity of a sheet anchor at the top of the order
Despite T20 being a format that suits turbo-charged batters, the pitches in Australia call for a technically correct batter, who can play the role of a sheet anchor. We can refer to the examples of Virat Kohli against Pakistan (Kohli played a sedate knock initially before stepping up the gear), Devon Conway against Australia, Shan Masood against India or Aaron Finch against Sri Lanka.
If a top-order batter secures his wicket at one end, it allows the batters at the other end to take a fair amount of risk. Having a good technique is especially necessary on tracks that allow a fair amount of movement off the seam.
Therefore, almost all the teams will be well-advised to go with a sensible batter who can withstand the new ball with his perfect technique and allow the middle-order and lower-order batters to go for the kill later on in the innings.
#3 Spinners need to adjust
We have already seen the likes of Axar Patel, Adam Zampa, Mohammad Nawaz and Wanindu Hasaranga go for a lot of runs in some of the matches. Most of the batters are looking to charge down the wicket before hoisting the spinners down the ground and the bowlers who cannot adjust are paying the price.
We have already seen Axar, who is quicker through the air, getting thrashed by Iftikhar Ahmed or Zampa, who could not pre-empt while bowling to an onrushing Conway, go for a lot of runs. Nawaz could not alter his pace and went for a lot against India. The bouncy and fast track of Perth allowed Marcus Stoinis to commit fully to his strokes while playing Hasaranga and carting the Lankan spinner for a number of sixes.
We can safely deduce from the above examples that the spinners would have to alter their length and be ready to take the pace off the ball by flighting it more to test the batters on big Australian grounds. Spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shadab Khan, Adil Rashid or Ish Sodhi can be very effective in that respect.
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I like to watch, analyze and write about various sports and have been writing for different websites for the last five years. I reside in Kolkata, India