Is bowling first the new ODI recipe for success?

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By , Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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    Is the Champions Trophy worthy of Australian sports fans' attention? (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

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    At the Champions Trophy, a new trend in ODI cricket appears to be emerging. Bowling first has been a way towards securing victory.

    Is this a modern trend? I mean winning the toss, sending their opponents in to bat and winning the match?

    So far at the Champions Trophy, 12 matches have been played, of which two were rained out. Of the ten matches with results, captains have sent opponents to bat eight times after winning the toss, winning six games (75 per cent) and losing two (25 per cent).

    Only South Africa and New Zealand decided to bat on winning the toss, and both lost. South Africa lost to Pakistan by 19 runs by the Duckworth-Lewis rule and New Zealand lost to Bangla by five wickets.

    This appears significant. Compare winning 75 per cent matches after winning the toss and sending opponents to bat against winning no matches after electing to bat.

    Will this pattern continue through the finals matches?

    England and Pakistan will meet in the first semi-final on Wednesday, while India and giant-killers Bangladesh will clash at Birmingham on Thursday. The winners will meet the winners of England and Pakistan in the final on Sunday, June 18.

    Virat Kohli runs after hitting a drive

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    So far, Indian batsmen lead in aggregate and average. Shikhar Dhawan has scored most runs, 271 at 90.33 in three matches. Virat Kohli has the highest batting average, 157.00.

    In bowling, Australian quick Josh Hazlewood took most wickets (9 at 15.77) and is the only one to take six wickets in an innings (6-52). No one else has so far taken a five-for.

    It is surprising that established teams like Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand have been eliminated, while weaker teams like Bangladesh and Pakistan have advanced.

    Did the pay conflict between Cricket Australia and the players subconsciously lead to Australia performing poorly? I don’t think the two rain-ruined matches were behind their elimination, as the Aussies were lucky to escape defeat against New Zealand and were also unlucky against Bangladesh.

    In any case, they would have got two points from these two washout matches. So it was even Stevens.

    It will be interesting to see whether the captains will retain the ‘win the toss and send the opponents in’ policy.

    I wonder as to why captains have followed the chaser mantra in the tournament and, more intriguing, why have they succeeded?

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.