Australia is hosting the T20 World Cup for the first time this year. It wasn’t quite 1992 when Australia and New Zealand first staged the ODI World Cup, and the colorful clothing, white ball and day/night floodlight matches gave an added dimension to gaming for the first time. But, in a T20 context, relatively larger boundaries and fast, bouncy Aussie pitches should give a different flavor to a tournament that’s already seven editions old.
Upstream, the emphasis was naturally placed on adapting to the conditions as quickly as possible, especially for the teams from the sub-continent. In Sri Lanka’s shaky start to the qualifying phase – the Asian Cup champions lost to Namibia in the opener in Geelong before bouncing back to make the Super 12 – it’s clear the adjustment is not so simple.
In an effort to be fully ready for their opener against Pakistan in Melbourne on October 23, the process of India finalizing their plans will involve a rigorous analysis of the numbers.
With India’s batting unit looking increasingly stable, it’s the bowling combination where there’s leeway before the big ticket opens. As it stands, they look likely to enter with three specialist tailors (all-rounder Hardik Pandya will beat at No. 5 or 6 and be the fourth tailor) and two spinners. While Axar Patel will play the role of second spinner given that he is a useful left-handed batsman in an otherwise full right-handed squad, the primary spinner pick is a toss-up between Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Chahal played all three T20Is at home against Australia while Ashwin replaced the leggie for the following series against South Africa. The reasoning was that the off-spinner would be more effective against a South African side with three southpaws in the top six. Pakistan are expected to field two southpaws – Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Nawaz – in their top six.
So which direction should India go in their first game?
This is where taking inspiration from data can come in handy. According to CricViz, 52.2% of spinner box office in Australia since 2017-18 has gone to leg-spinners, which is perhaps fitting for a country that has produced Shane Warne, Bill O’Reilly, Richie Benaud and Clarrie Grimmett. . In comparison, off-spinners accounted for 22.2% of wickets. The corresponding numbers for orthodox and unorthodox left-arm spinners are 17.2% and 8.4%, respectively.
Wrist spinners are favored in T20 cricket anyway given the greater variety, but the numbers in Australia are all the more skewed in their favour. In the last season of the Big Bash League (BBL) – Australia’s national T20 league – Afghanistan Rashid Khan was the biggest wicket taker among spinners with 20 scalps in 11 games. The numbers speak for Chahal, who will appreciate the extra bounce and bigger boundaries that don’t allow hitters to always get away with poorly executed leading edges and slogs. While spinners predictably get the maximum reward for bowling a good length – 44.5% of all balls taking wickets in Australia over the past five years are in this area – it is interesting to note that they tended to err on the shorter side than full. And it’s often worked, with 21.6% of spinners’ wickets coming off short balls compared to 5.1% when the ball is thrown full length.
In India, conversely, spinners are rewarded for playing longer. In intermediate overs, for example, only 5.68% of the wickets they use are short deliveries while full deliveries net 39.77% of breakthroughs.
“The main difference in Australia is that the rebound and wrist rotations get the ball a little bit more out of bounds,” said National Cricket Academy (NCA) batting coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who was on staff. support from the recent home series against South Africa. “Wrist spinners use their wrist and fingers. This gives them an additional weapon. Off-spinners only use the fingers and shoulder. The main reason leg-spinners are so good is that they can trick the hitter in midair. They’re going to present difficulties in Australia, that’s for sure.
The Rhythm Strategy
Pacers, on the other hand, can’t afford to err on the shorter side. The seam attack will likely include Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and left arm pacer Arshdeep Singh. While Bhuvneshwar and Shami are rewarded for their experience, Arshdeep has impressed more recently than Harshal Patel. His left arm angle also provides a point of difference.
With the exception of full pitches, against which batters have a hit rate of 165.9, the shortball tends to be punished the most severely in Australia, as exemplified by the hit rate of 152.9. Even allowing for full deliveries played more often than short balls, 27.6% of wickets taken were off-delivery while only 13.8% of wickets were from bouncers. Rebounding on Australian surfaces often results in a fast bowler who gets carried away, but hitters who are strong on the hook and pull thrive on balls fed into this area – the shot shot yields 20.5% of runs scored against the leaders.
Comparatively, in Indian conditions, strike rates are higher against full deliveries than against short balls. In slog overs, batters have a strike rate of 190 against full deliveries while the strike rate against short balls is 162.
“So pitches usually have more rhythm and bounce,” Kanitkar said. “For a T20 game, pitches can be good to beat because you can trust the pace and the rebound, which is what a hitter usually wants. It’s available there.
Former Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar said: “Two things we usually like batters to do is stay a bit straight while the ball bounces a bit more and you have to expect that the ball hits slightly higher up the bat. Then have a preloaded backlift because the wickets are so true you can play across the line.
Which deliveries should batters attack?
The current Indian batting unit should take advantage of the overall conditions. In Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, India has a top three who are not averse to playing the horizontal bats. Although Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya haven’t played much in Australia to know exactly how they’re going to fare, they haven’t shown any visible discomfort from short balls so far. It’s a non-negotiable requirement of batting in Australia and possibly a reason why someone like Shreyas Iyer couldn’t make it into the main team.
Strike rates against different lengths played by pacers in slog overs also offer valuable information. Unless a pace pitcher is certain to nail the yorker – hitters have a hit rate of just 111.3 against the yorker in the last four overs of an inning – it might be best to try to focus on a good length. While the strike rate against full or over-throw deliveries is 175.5 and short deliveries 150.8, the number drops to 141.7 when the bowler lands the ball a good length. In a game of thin margins, this can make a huge difference.
“When a bowler is unable to hit a perfect yorker in India, there isn’t much rebound and it can be difficult for batters to get the ball in the middle of the bat. In places like Australia, because there is rebound, a hitter may find it easier to get under what is now an over-thrown delivery,” Kanitkar said.
India’s matches in the group stage are split between Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. The average first-innings score at the MCG over the past five years is 163, seven points higher than in India. Of the Australian venues, the Adelaide Oval is the highest with an average score of 169 while the Sydney Cricket Ground is the lowest at 155.
In a format where strategies and matchups have become paramount, you can be sure players will use this data in their on-field decision-making; because, in the end, every little thing counts.