Which team has the best pace attack for the World Cup 2023?
While the World Cup 2023 will happen in the sub-continent conditions, the pacers will still have a significant say in almost every game. The teams with different varieties of speedsters to operate in different phases will have the upper hand. Hence, the sides need to be precise with their picks in the mega event.
In this segment, we look at the pace attacks of each nation and rank them accordingly.
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur.
India arguably have the best set of pacers available for the World Cup on paper. They have most of the bases covered leading to the mega event. Jasprit Bumrah is an all-phase bowler who will be used according to the situation, while Mohammed Siraj is an absolute beast in the powerplay. Moreover, Siraj’s recent development has provided encouraging signs for the other two phases, particularly the slog overs.
Hardik Pandya is in the finest form of his life with the ball and will be used as a middle-overs enforcer. He will have the task of bowling those hard lengths into the pitch. Shardul Thakur has that wicket-taking knack and has scalped wickets consistently. His slower ones have also improved recently, a bonus for the team.
Mohammed Shami might miss out on the XI due to the batting depth India talk about. However, Shami is as good as any other bowler with the new ball, while his expertise in the middle and death overs is also on the rise. As visible in the first ODI against Australia, Shami can generate movement with the relatively old ball and also bowl those slower as well as yorkers in the back end of the innings. All in all, India have a well-rounded pace attack with several luxuries for the World Cup.
Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis.
Australia have got a mixed pace attack for the World Cup. Mitchell Starc is a new-ball beast and can swing the ball both ways early on, while Josh Hazlewood is also a powerplay specialist. However, Hazlewood’s recent form hasn’t been good enough, while Starc is not a reliable middle and death overs bowler anymore.
Pat Cummins has the skillsets for both powerplay and middle overs, but his death overs credentials aren’t great, either. Cummins hasn’t played this format enough, so there is uncertainty about whether he will be able to hold himself in the tournament. Cameron Green is a curious case, given he can generate that extra bounce and pace in the middle overs, but he is inconsistent in this format as of now.
Sean Abbott doesn’t have enough experience in these conditions, while Mitchell Marsh has barely bowled in India. Both are decent in their roles but massively inexperienced. Marcus Stoinis can bowl those tight lines and lengths, but his record in India puts him under the scanner.
Overall, Australia have an all-round pace attack, but there is no guarantee of consistent returns due to recent forms and inexperience. However, if all the speedsters apply themselves properly, they will certainly form a formidable attack.
Mark Wood, Gus Atkinson, Sam Curran, Reece Topley, David Willey and Chris Woakes.
England have an intriguing pace attack for the World Cup. Reece Topley, David Willey and Chris Woakes are the powerplay specialists, whereas Topley can also be used in the death. Willey and Woakes aren’t reliable in the other phases but might still do reasonably well.
Mark Wood is their best bowler and will have to crank up in the middle and death overs, while Gus Atkinson can also do a similar job. But Atkinson is completely alien to these conditions, so he will find it arduous to adjust. However, there is no doubt about his skillsets - he has that pace and can generate bounce off the deck to stifle the batters.
Sam Curran’s powerplay expertise is good, and his death overs skillsets have also seen significant growth. He has a variety of slower balls, but his accuracy with the yorkers is not trustworthy for now. Overall, Curran is a decent package but not a master of any phase in the ODIs.
Another massive problem for England will be managing the workload of these speedsters. Almost every one of them is injury-prone and breaks down at times. So, it will be another challenging thing for England to manage.
Kagiso Rabada, Gerald Coetzee, Marco Jansen, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo and Lizaad Williams.
South Africa’s pace attack has taken a major setback after Anrich Nortje missed out due to an injury. Kagiso Rabada will lead the attack, and his skills are known by all. However, he is no longer a major threat, and his death overs bowling has been below-par for a while now.
Gerald Coetzee has shown promise in whatever he has played at the international level. He has pace and can hurry the batters with his back-of-a-length deliveries at a high speed. Marco Jansen is also a decent new-ball bowler but goes for plenty in other blocks at times.
Andile Phehlukwayo and Lizaad Williams are the late additions to the team. Phehlukwayo can bowl those tight lines and lengths and look good in the recent games. But, on the flat decks, he is very much hittable.
Lizaad Williams doesn’t have too much knowledge of the Indian conditions, but he is an exciting prospect. Williams can operate effectively in the powerplay, but his credentials in the middle and slog overs are not completely known at this level.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Hasan Ali.
The untimely injury to Naseem Shah has dented the quality of the pace attack of Pakistan significantly. Shaheen Shah Afridi is among the best new-ball bowlers but is slightly unreliable in the middle and slog overs. While there is no denying his quality, Shaheen can still work on his lengths in the other two parts, especially the death overs.
Haris Rauf has built himself into a reliable middle-overs bowler and is expected to do his job well. He is also quite decent in the end overs. Haris has the ingredients to be Pakistan’s go-to bowler in the tournament.
Mohammad Wasim Jr. and Hasan Ali are good bowlers but haven’t been consistent in this format. Wasim has the pace, while Hasan can also bowl tight overs from his end. It will be interesting to see how he goes in the tournament, but the duo can not be trusted completely for now.
Trent Boult, Tim Southee (probable), Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, James Neesham and Daryl Mitchell.
The good news for New Zealand is the return of Trent Boult, while the bad news is the last-minute injury to the veteran Tim Southee. Trent Boult is a powerplay giant who takes wickets almost every time with the new ball. While he is not a complete death-overs bowler, Boult has done reasonably well in the T20s and might be effective in the 50-overs format as well.
Tim Southee’s fitness is a massive concern for New Zealand. He is a skilled powerplay bowler, while also a decent middle and death-overs option. If he doesn’t make it in time, New Zealand’s attack will face a major dent.
Lockie Ferguson has the pace and can bounce out the batters in the middle and end overs. However, Ferguson has blown hot and cold, and his death-overs bowling hasn’t been as effective either. In the absence of Southee, Ferguson will have to step up.
Matt Henry is also a new-ball specialist while weaker in the other two blocks. He relies on the conditions and is not a reliable bowler for the end overs. James Neesham can also bowl a few handy overs in the middle but is unreliable in the slog.
Neesham is still among the best choices in New Zealand. Daryl Mitchell can also roll his arms and give a few overs in the middle, but not a wicket-taking or run-controlling option in this format. All in all, a lot will rely on Boult and Ferguson in the World Cup.
Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha and Dasun Shanaka.
Sri Lanka have also struggled with the fitness of their key pacers. Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara will come off an injury, so that might be a concern for the team. Chameera is their best bet in the powerplay and death overs.
Lahiru Kumara has the pace and can do well in the powerplay and middle overs. However, his death-over skillsets are still not up to the mark. But he is among the best options for Sri Lanka.
Matheesha Pathirana showed encouraging signs in the Asia Cup 2023 and will start in the XI in the World Cup as well. Pathirana is a death-overs specialist and might also do well in the middle-overs. He has the pace to trouble the batters.
Kasun Rajitha has done well in patches but is not a trustworthy option in any phase of the game. Dasun Shanaka’s returns have also been below par. The duo are the weaker links of Sri Lanka’s pace attack.
Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib and Saumya Sarkar.
For Bangladesh, Taskin Ahmed will hold the key in the powerplay and slog overs. He has done well in these phases in the past and will have the task to do the same. Mustafizur Rahman’s form is a concern, as he has underperformed with the ball of late.
Hasan Mahmud and Tanzim Hasan Sakib showed encouraging signs with the new ball, but how will they hold up in the other phases is unknown. But the pair has the ability to do well in patches with the ball.
Shoriful Islam is among the best options for Bangladesh. He brings the left-arm angle and can generate bounce off the surface at a decent pace. Shoriful will have to perform in the death overs along with Taskin Ahmed in this Bangladesh unit.
Paul van Meekeren, Logan van Beek, Ryan Klein, Vikramjit Singh and Bas de Leede.
The Netherlands’ biggest issue in the upcoming World Cup will be inexperience. While they have been here for a while now, they might find it arduous to adjust according to the situation. Paul van Meekeren is their best bowler and is likely to do the heavy lifting in the powerplay and death overs.
He has the pace and control to operate effectively on the Indian pitches. Logan van Beek is suited with the new ball, but his control in the slog overs might be an issue. Ryan Klein hasn’t done anything significant with the ball either.
Bas de Leede will chip in with a few useful overs, but he can’t be trusted in the death overs at this level. Paul van Meekeren will have to do the heavy lifting with the ball.
Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Azmatullah Omarzai and Abdul Rahman.
Afghanistan might have the lightest pace attack for the World Cup 2023. Fazalhaq Farooqi will hold the new ball and have the responsibility to provide early breakthroughs. However, his middle and death overs bowling is not promising enough in this format.
The return of Naveen-ul-Haq means he will have to do the work in the slog overs, while also bowling with the new ball. Azmatullah Omarzai is an exciting prospect. He can be used as a middle-overs enforcer, as Omarzai has the pace to agitate the batters and also bowl partially in the death overs.
Abdul Rahman can also generate pace but is inexperienced at this level. So, how he goes in the tournament is pretty much unknown for now.
Note: Bangladesh and Sri Lanka haven’t announced their World Cup squads yet. So, all the probable options are taken into consideration.