Is bowling first the new ODI recipe for success?

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By Kersi Meher-Homji, Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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26 Have your say

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • Roar Guru

      June 14th 2017 @ 9:05am
      Giri Subramanian said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      I guess with smaller boundaries and flat pitches, it is hard for team batting first to gauge what is enough. Teams with good batting line up prefer chasing as it is easier to calculate and plan an innings. India scored 320 odd against SL and it was easily chased down. Cricket has changed in the last few years. Regarding Australia’s elimination, I don’t think the pay dispute had anything to do with their elimination. Also the rain affected game against Bangladesh cost Australia the spot in the Semi’s.

      The biggest thing people tend to forget is that because the game was abandoned, Australia ended up with no NRR after the first 2 games. If Australia had won the game against Bangladesh, apart from the 2 points, they would have also had +NRR. Also Bangladesh’s NRR would have been further dented. Despite their loss against England, they would have still had a chance to go through based on NRR.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 2:57pm
        Sunil Lohagan said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        I am sorry to say that NRR do have any role to play here as Bangladesh has 3 points and Australia 2.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 4:20pm
          matth said | June 14th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

          But if Australia had beaten Bangladessh they would have had two points each and NRR would have been very relevant.

          So the rain took a point from Australia and gave it to Bangladesh. It did the opposite to NZ.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 9:25am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      Astute observations, Giri.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 1:02pm
      Al said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

      Always fun looking at these trends (real or imagined!), Kersi. I had a bit of a dig around on CricInfo, and found the following:
      Over the last 10 years, in 1366 ODI matches:
      The team batting first has won 591 (43%)
      The team fielding first has won 641 (47%)
      There have been 24 (2%) ties, and 110 (8%) No Results.
      Incidentally, the team that has won the toss has lost more games (628) than they have won (604), but by a statistically insignificant amount.

      Over the last 4, in 517 ODIs:
      The team batting first has won 252 (49%)
      The team fielding first has won 238 (46%)
      There have been 6 (1%) ties, and 21 (4%) No Results.

      In both cases, it would seem that there is little advantage, generally, from batting or fielding first. I didn’t have stats on D/L[/S] finishes, but I strongly suspect that rain would skew both the outcome of matches and captains decision to bat or field first.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 3:21pm
        Kersi Meher-Homji said | June 14th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

        Thank you Al for your research.

    • Roar Guru

      June 14th 2017 @ 2:09pm
      Rellum said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

      I think it is more appropriate to look at individual teams and how they handle the different pressures of setting a target of chasing.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2017 @ 2:29pm
        Giri Subramanian said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

        Yup it depends on strength of the team and how they handle the pressure of chasing. Small boundaries and flat wickets has made chasing easier than in the past but again look at the stats above, it seems like batting first is still the popular option.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 3:07pm
      Ritesh Misra said | June 14th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

      Kersi, i do not think so we can conclude on the basis of this tournament. as it is played amidst the unpredictable English weather. Hence chasing has advantages as one can plan according to the changing D/L equations. In contrast, batting 1st one has to plan a target for 50 overs and pace the innings accordingly. Hence is overs get reduced the batting side loses out as they may have targetted 100 in last ten.
      In such circumstances as at present bowling 1st is a better option.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 3:55pm
      vaibhav said | June 14th 2017 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

      just coz aus lost , u guys are not giving updates of other matches, so unprofessional for a sports website

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2017 @ 9:56pm
        Rellum said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

        England is suddenly in a bit of trouble. Pakistan a chance now of progressing. A small chance.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 15th 2017 @ 12:45am
          savage said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:45am | ! Report

          wow! looks like another upset around the corner.this really has been tournament of,i wont be surprised if bangladesh beat india tomorrow

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