The upcoming edition of ICC Champions Trophy is certainly going to be the most awaited global cricketing event of this year and we are just less than a month away from the first ball being bowled in the tournament. Heading into this eight-team event, which is starting from June 1 in England, CricketSoccer is focusing on the various technical aspects of the game which are expected to play a vital role in the strategies of the teams.
Today, our point of discussion is the death bowling tactics, which in modern day cricket, is a focal point for each team.
Expected tracks and powerplay strategies
It is early Summer in the United Kingdom (UK) and wickets tend to do a bit for bowlers, especially for seamers in normal circumstances at this point of time. However, one has to remember that the Champions Trophy will be an ICC event and the organisers would be preparing high-scoring tracks, which has been a normal practice in ICC organised tournaments in recent years. The pitches will be highly in favour of batsmen so that the matches are more broadcaster-friendly. Thus, expect 300-320 to be the average score in the tournament.
In such conditions, bowling in the powerplay overs becomes even more important for the fielding team. These days, any of the eight participating teams has the potential to score 300 against any opposition on a given day. But the key will be, whether they have the bowling to defend that or not.
In recent One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in English conditions, we have seen batsmen tend to play safely in the first 10 overs, despite only two fielders being posted outside the 30-yard circle. Though here the wickets will be flat, but still most of the top order batsmen will be reluctant to come out all guns blazing in the batting powerplay (Initial 10 overs of the innings) against the two new balls.
Instead, the batting team will look to play safe till 30 overs, keeping maximum wickets in hand to go for the assault in the final 20.
The Bumrahs, Woakes and Malingas….
To counter this power hitting, these days each team has their specialist death bowlers. The Lasith Malingas, the Jasprit Bumrahs, the Chris Woakes, the Tymal Mills, the Bhuvneshwar Kumars are trusted with the responsibilities of restricting the batsmen at the back end of the innings. There will be no exception in the Champions Trophy as well as death bowling of every team will be under the microscope. In fact, this time the job will be tougher, as batting sides will look to make up for their initial slow and steady starts in the final overs.
Primarily, pacers will be shouldering the bulk of the responsibilities in the death overs. On conditions, where spinners won’t get much assistance from the track, captains will be taking a huge gamble if they chose to go with slow bowling options in the later half of the innings.
It will be important to notice how the fielding captains utilise the five fielders, who are allowed to stay outside the circle in between 41st to 50th over of the innings.
Importance of changing lengths according to situations
In England, the three-quarter length is the most preferable for bowlers in most parts of the innings. However, against the modern day 360-degree batsmen, it will be important for the bowling team to remain unpredictable with their lengths.
Inside the batting powerplay, bowlers will pitch it up to get sideways movement. In this edition of the Champions Trophy, all the matches will be day games and in England, in the first one hour, the ball moves around a bit. Thus, taking the early morning advantage will be a vital tactic for each team.
Also, It seems chasing the target will be the most preferred option for the teams in the tournament and the captains will look to field first. So the onus will be on the bowlers to provide their team with early breakthroughs and hitting the right length will be mighty crucial.
However, towards the end overs, the lengths will be completely different. The bowlers will use those slow deliveries, slow ball bouncers, and yorkers to outfox the batsmen. Changing lengths will be a key aspect of team’s death bowling tactics as well.
Heading into the tournament, many people might feel teams with strong batting units like India, and Australia have the upper hand in the tournament. But there are teams also teams like South Africa, England, New Zealand and Pakistan who are equipped with a strong pace-attack will have equal potentials to go all the way.