Daryl Mitchell and spin game peaking at the right time

Daryl Mitchell has done everything New Zealand wanted in the last couple of years or so, with a fine consistency.
Daryl Mitchell
In the World Cup, Daryl Mitchell will play at No. 4, where he will have to face ample spin in every game.

Daryl Mitchell has done everything New Zealand wanted in the last couple of years or so, with a fine consistency. Irrespective of the format, Mitchell has shown fantastic improvement to become the Kiwis’ go-to man in no time. His ODI returns of late will boost the team’s confidence leading to the World Cup next month.

With the retirement of Ross Taylor and frequent injuries to Kane Williamson, New Zealand must have struggled to form a stable middle order, but Mitchell has peaked at just the right time. In Mitchell, the Blackcaps have found a reliable middle-order batter who is well-equipped against both pacers and spinners and someone who plays the situation well.

His performance against England last night and his run against Pakistan a few months earlier showed his versatility and temperament. Both teams were playing their full-strength side, but Mitchell looked comfortable against all of them.

Daryl Mitchell has 574 runs at an average of 47.83 and a strike rate of 94.56 in 13 ODI innings this year. He has also amassed three centuries. No other batter has scored as many runs for the Kiwis this year.

Mitchell’s three centuries show that he is capable of playing long innings, and his strike rate shows that he can also pace the innings well. He is an ideal replacement for Ross Taylor in the team. His recent improvements against the spinners are the biggest positive for New Zealand, given the World Cup is scheduled to be played in India.

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Mitchell’s expertise against the pacers was always on display, as his brute power enabled him to take on the hard lengths and shorter-length deliveries without losing shape. He could always hit the fast bowlers down the ground with a stable base and calm head. But his recent knocks in the 50-over format have shown encouraging signs against the spinners as well. In fact, Mitchell has better numbers against the tweakers than the pacers in ODIs this year.

Daryl Mitchell has 344 runs at an average of 68.80 and a strike rate of 100 in ODIs against the spinners this year. On the other hand, Mitchell has 230 runs at an average of 32.85 and a strike rate of 87.45 against the pacers. While pace is still Mitchell’s stronger suit, the spin numbers show a great story.

A comparative look at the numbers against bowling types each year gives a clear picture. The table below shows that Daryl Mitchell has kept improving against the spinners each year. His average and strike rate this year is better than the previous year, and, notably, Mitchell has cut down the dot balls significantly as well.

Mitchell now focuses on rotating the strike, which doesn’t pile pressure on him, and the occasional boundaries help him keep up the scoring rate, too. And on a batting deck, Mitchell can now thwart the spinners like anyone else. He has the power to muscle them all over the boundary ropes, like he did against the English spinners, particularly Adil Rashid, last night.

Mitchell amassed 46 runs off 20 balls at a strike rate of 230 against Rashid, including four boundaries and as many maximums on his way to a match-winning 118*. He also made 29 runs off 28 deliveries at a strike rate of 103.57, including two maximums, against Liam Livingstone. Every time they bowled a fuller-length delivery, the Kiwi batter was quick to pounce on it, and he also used his feet to get to the pitch of the ball at times.

His maximums were down the ground, showing his immense power and ability to read the variations off the bowlers’ hands. His precise foot movement against the slow bowlers is a recent development in his game. Mitchell was at sea against the Indian spinners earlier in the year, where he was indecisive of the lengths. While the quality of spinners might not be as good, the overall progress is lucid now.

In the World Cup, Daryl Mitchell will play at No. 4, where he will have to face ample spin in every game. This improvement will help him counter them better than he did on the same soil earlier this year. New Zealand already have some sound spin players in Devon Conway, Kane Williamson and Tom Latham. An improved Daryl Mitchell will only bolster the Blackcaps’ batting unit.

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