There was not a single 300+ score in Ahmedabad in the World Cup. Three games out of four, the team batted second. The pitch has been more difficult to score at the start, with the first powerplays producing 51, 49, 48 and 41 runs so far. But scores of 81, 79, 38 and 57 in the second innings make it quite clear that the pitch will become much easier for the batsman as the day progresses.
Australia have a 2-1 edge over India in this century’s World Cup highlights; the only win, incidentally, coming against Ahmedabad in the 2011 quarter-final when Yuvraj Singh prevailed in a thrilling chase with a resilient fifty. With both sides in the spotlight again, this time for the World Cup, will history repeat itself?
It’s an age-old dilemma – put a run on the scoreboard or back yourself to chase the hit. India have not been chasing since a series match against New Zealand on October 22, but Australia are fresh from a difficult semi-final against South Africa where they were bowled out for 74 in the first 10 overs. In fact, the two previous wins came from chases as well, in contrasting styles no less. Against Bangladesh, Mitchell Marsh came in at No.3 to score an unbeaten 177 in an eight-wicket win. Before that, Australia looked set against Afghanistan at 91/7 before Glenn Maxwell battled a debilitating cramp to make 201* off 128 balls in a stunning victory. If India wins, Australia may be tempted to change.
This is definitely not going to be a high-scoring pitch. In 30 matches at Ahmedabad, the 300-run barrier was crossed only six times, four of them coming in two matches. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra hit hundreds in the World Cup final, but the bat came second as New Zealand were bowled out for 283 by one wicket. That said, single hundreds don’t come around too often, and you have to go back to 2014 to find the last centurion (Ambati Rayudu) here.
And since the pitch (No. 5) where Pakistan batted first to score 191 will be used here, there may be even less incentive to bat first. The fastest scoring team in this World Cup, India have also got the best average per wicket in the first 10 overs. With six batsmen averaging over 50 and six bowlers averaging under 25, India need not second-guess themselves. But if they were to split hairs, the middle-of-the-road bowling could be missing against New Zealand in the semi-finals. Not a very strong point but something India might want to consider before you decide on the toss.
The spinners average 36.5 runs per dismissal at Ahmedabad, with a decent strike rate of 44.7 balls per wicket. But that boundary percentage of 7.2 is crucial at a ground where batsmen prefer to push the spinners around and not risk the big outfield. At the same time, Too many were also quite productive with the second power play scores (for innings over the 40-over mark) reading 173, 202, 138, 172, 149, 132 and 135 with an aggregate run rate of slightly above. five. This is where games can be won and lost.
India would like to bowl first as the spinners have a better average (25.78 to 55.25) and strike rate (33.1 to 65.1) in the first innings at Ahmedabad. Case in point is the performance against Pakistan where they took seven wickets during the finals 10-40 with Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav taking turns applying the brakes with the fast bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah the their choice.
Batting first has not been a problem for India so far with five hundreds scored by three players —Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul — and four batsmen averaging over 50. But when batting second, that comes down to two players – Kohli (118) and Rahul (177) – unless you want to include Rohit Sharma’s average of 62.2, which aimed to give India a quick start.
The only time India struggled against Ahmedabad – against Pakistan – they scored 113 in 123 balls of the second power play even when the target was relatively easy, after a 79-run start in pursuit of 191. Which just reiterates the point that the middle. the eyebrows could be make or break for both teams.
The back of the balls far
This goes out to the batsmen of both teams, given their incredible pace. Australia’s Test length bowling – especially Josh Hazlewood – is making waves but watch out for the 8-10m length deliveries from pacers with an economy of 4.6 and a strike rate of 40 balls per wicket in Ahmedabad. Equally relevant will be how Kohli plays out Hazlewood who averages just 10.2 from five dismissals. Ahmedabad’s five best ever bowling performances came from fast bowlers, all of whom were extremely effective at manipulating their lengths. Both Shami and Siraj tend to overshoot but Bumrah hitting the harder lengths in the final over could be crucial to India’s trajectory in the final.
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