posted on 2019-06-11 21:40:03
posted by Naimish Gupta
Image courtesy: india.com
What emotions or feelings does the name Trent Bridge evoke in your mind? A cricketing strip which just seems to be insatiable when it comes to ODI run-feasting.
But this time it is a bit different. The Rain Gods, whose relentlessness just washed out two straight games in the competition, seem to be in no mood for any leniency as it has rained cats and dogs over the past three days in Nottingham, and with the weather expected to be gloomy for the rest of the week too, the Trent Bridge ground may offer a moisture-laden strip with overcast conditions – something which doesn’t go too well with high run-scoring expectations.
Not just the fans, Indian batsmen too will be under anxiety clouds as they have been largely found wanting against conditions offering assistance to quality seam and swing bowling and if that quality comes from the ‘left-hand’, the problems increase manifolds for the Indian batsmen.
It was not in distant memory when Indian batsmen were skittled out for a paltry total of 179 in the first warm-up game before the marquee ICC event against New Zealand.
A certain Kiwi by the name of Trent Boult was the architect-in-chief of that humbling in London. In fact, if we extend our scrutiny to the last three ODI games (including the warm-up match and two last encounters of the bilateral series) between India and New Zealand, Indian batsmen could muster only 92 and 179 in Hamilton and London respectively while they were staring into the darkness at 4 wickets down for just 18 runs in Wellington (last ODI of the series).
What was Boult’s role in such annihilation? Well, his figures of 5 for 21 (Hamilton), 3 for 39 (Wellington) and 4 for 33 runs (London) scream out loud the discomfort of Indian batsmen in handling his bag of tricks especially on a deck which offers him some assistance.
Now, if we compare the performance of Indian batsmen in the past four years against the left and right-arm pace variants, we will find the glaring discomfort of the Indian batsmen against the left-arm variety. While the Indians average 42.33 runs apiece for each of their dismissals against right-hand pacers, the average drops down to 36.91 runs apiece when pitted against the left-armers.
Talking about the left-arm bowlers who have excelled against India in the past four years, we will find Boult leading the way with 22 scalps from just 12 games at an average of just 24.90 and an economy rate of 4.74 runs per over. These are some seriously good numbers against the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – the two batsmen with most ODI centuries since the last World Cup.
The writing on the wall is clear that if India wants to ride the Tasman tide successfully, they will have to negate their Boult threat. The problem has compounded a little with Shikhar Dhawan being ruled out for three weeks due to a thumb fracture.
Although Dhawan didn’t boast of a very good record against left-arm pacers (and especially against Boult who has 5 dismissals against him in 8 meetings), his stellar record in ICC events and recent form surely indicate towards a big void being created in the Indian batting because of his injury.
On the other hand, Rohit Sharma has also been susceptible to the ‘Boult-variety’ of bowlers. The Hit-man has fallen for a total of 23 times against the left-arm pace in his 202 ODI innings and three such instances have resulted in him registering a duck. The negation to his problems against the ball coming in from the bowler’s left hand, leaving his pads in danger of getting an LBW, will take some serious concentration and discipline.
The battle lines have been drawn and the analysis will be in the final phase for each team. Now, it will once again be dependent upon the mercy of the rain gods. Indian batsmen need to take note of the Boult threat. He may not have been the best wicket-taker in the three matches for the Black Caps so far in the competition but will surely be raring to have a go against the Indian batsmen under overcast conditions. A win in this match will firmly establish the victor as a near-certain candidate of the knock-out stage and Kohli will not want to miss this very first bus to the semis.