Cricket

Published on June 19th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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ICC Champions Trophy 2017 – Did India miss out a trick by not playing an extra seamer?

From the ranked 8 team in the ICC ODI teams ranking prior to the tournament, Pakistan shot to limelight and left everyone bewildered by clinching the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time, since its inception in 1998. Pakistan beat India convincingly by a massive margin of 180 runs to claim the title and scripted history. From being Underdogs, Pakistan created some massive upsets and defeated the strongest sides to emerge as champions. They left no stone unturned in their preparations after a disheartening defeat against India in the inaugural game and have done exceptionally well in the rest of the tournament.

Pakistan evolved with every outing; their all three departments saw remarkable improvement with every game, which is also the key reason behind their success. Their fielding was inspiring confidence and bowlers were having an amazing time in the middle. Their batting peaked at the very right moment and got the job done when it mattered the most. Coming back to the final at The Oval, Pakistan were asked to bat first after India won the toss. Their batsmen after a few hiccups showed no mercy and garnered runs at a brisk pace.

Indian bowlers looked bereft of oomph against the pumped Pakistani batsmen. India went with the pace combo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah and two spinners being Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Ashwin was not picked for the first tow games but a defeat against Sri Lanka sculpted a spot for him in the playing XI. Ashwin did reasonably well in India’s next encounter against South Africa but didn’t have any impact in the semi-final game against Bangladesh. Ashwin bowled ten overs, conceding 54 without a wicket against Bangladesh.

Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, did well against South Africa and had a decent run in the semi-final later. Jadeja finished with figures of 48 for 1 against Bangladesh. India boast off an incredible pace attack with the presence of Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. But the conundrum of picking a few from them was always there. Hardik Pandya can bowl medium pace and has been a good contender for the fifth bowler but still has a long way to go to develop into a strike bowler.

Coming back to the final, India opted to not disturb their winning combination and remained unchanged from their previous encounter. This meant, they just had two frontline pacers and two established spinners at the service. The pitch at The Oval had nothing for the bowlers, especially for the spinners. There wasn’t any turn, which made Jadeja and Ashwin ineffective. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya had a decent time with the ball. Did India make a mistake in not opting for an extra seamer? Well, the numbers suggest that an additional seamer would have certainly been beneficial.

The conditions were hardly assisting the spinners, the three Indian spinners – Jadeja, Ashwin and Kedar Jadhav bowled 21 overs between them. They conceded 164 runs between them, which clearly speaks of their ineffectiveness. Barring Kedar Jadhav, none of the spinners managed to scalp a wicket, which is extremely rare. The spinners went for almost 8-run per over while the seamers gave away just 165 runs in 29 overs between them. They also shared a relatively better record in terms of wicket as they managed to pick two.

With the return of Mohammad Amir into the final, Pakistan went all guns blazing and played three frontline seamers. The pace trio of Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali worked wonders for Pakistan and lived up to the expectations in the high-voltage final as well. Amir accounted for early wickets and broke the spine of Indian batting while Hasan Ali inflicted immense with three wickets under his belt. Junaid Khan bowled a tight line with the new ball and was rewarded for his persistence with the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja.

The Pakistani pacers accounted for seven Indian wickets while two were picked by Shadab Khan along with a run out. They shared 18.3 overs between them, conceding just 55 runs while their spinners were also taken for runs. Pakistan spinners shared 12 overs and gave away 101 runs with two wickets. Going by the numbers one thing is clear, pacers did remarkably well as compared to the spinners. Also, English conditions are traditionally known for seam and have hardly assisted spinners.

One should also remember, when India beat Pakistan in their opening encounter, it was their pace bowling, which inflicted majority of the damage. Umesh Yadav had a magnificent run with three wickets in that contest. Also, Pakistan batsmen are generally good players of spin, so testing them with an additional seamer would have certainly given India an edge. The Indian bowling took a beating as a result of which, their batsmen had a mountain to climb. They were bowled out for 158 as Pakistan beat India by a record-breaking margin of 180 in an ICC tournament final.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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