T20 World Cup: Teams braced for spin battles in the Super Eights | Crickit
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T20 World Cup: Teams braced for spin battles in the Super Eights

By, Mumbai
Jun 19, 2024 07:14 AM IST

With the Caribbean wickets expected to play slow, spinners are expected to call the shots more often

In their final T20 World Cup league match against Scotland, Australia altered their bowling plans at St. Lucia. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were rested and all three spinners bowled their full quota of overs. Though Scotland’s batters amassed 180/5, it was 12 overs of spin for eight of pace. Playing his first World Cup game, left-arm spinner Ashton Agar opened the bowling and returned 4-0-39-1. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa and off-spinner Glenn Maxwell came on in the middle overs, returning figures of 4-0-44-2 and 4-0-30-1 respectively.

Australia's Adam Zampa tosses a ball while bowling against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda(PTI)
Australia's Adam Zampa tosses a ball while bowling against Namibia during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda(PTI)

Pace was in focus in the group games, especially in New York, but as the action moves to the West Indies for the Super Eights, spin is expected to come into play a lot more. In their first three group games, Australia fielded four pacers and two spinners or three pacers and two spinners.

Skipper Mitch Marsh’s move against Scotland is to prepare for the tough Super Eights game against India in St. Lucia on June 24.

“We’ve another game here (v India), so (it was about) getting accustomed to or having a look at the conditions here… having some batting time into our middle order and some of our spinners getting time in different situations,” pace ace Mitchell Starc said after the Scotland game.

A trial by spin awaits Australia in Super Eights Group 1, where they seem the odd one out among Asian teams India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Australia batters have traditionally found it tough on turning wickets.

“A lot of us have prepared for plenty of spin depending on what venue you get to,” vice-captain Matthew Wade said during the league stage. “Guys have been preparing for that through the world, through IPL into the start of this World Cup. We expect nothing different. On their day, they’re all going to be very, very hard teams to beat. We’re expecting them to hit us with a fair bit of spin over the next little bit.”

India played four pacers in the three games in New York, their spinners playing a support role. They, however, have four spinners in their squad with the focus on playing in the Caribbean where the Super Eights starts on Wednesday with USA versus South Africa. Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and left-arm spin all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel provide variety for the slower Caribbean pitches. In New York, India picked Jadeja and Patel for their batting.

India may bring in Kuldeep Yadav in place of a seamer. With T20 heavy on match-ups, for specific opposition, they can even play an all-out attacking wrist-spin combination of Kuldeep and Chahal. A morning start means dew won’t be a factor for the spinners.

Ahead of the World Cup, captain Rohit Sharma mentioned his spin strategy. “I definitely wanted four spinners. We’ve played a lot of cricket there (Caribbean). We know what the conditions are like. With starts at 10.30am, there’s a little bit of technical aspect involved. With two of the spinners Axar and Jadeja being all-rounders, and two attacking spinners – Kuldeep and Chahal – it gives you balance in the spin department.”

India’s first game is at Bridgetown’s Kensington Oval against Afghanistan, where the stand out spell so far has been Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa’s match-turning 2/38 that triggered England’s batting collapse. India’s second game, against Bangladesh, is in Antigua. Along with Kensington Oval, the North Sound ground is the most used. India’s game will be the seventh there and a tired pitch could assist spin more.

India’s games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be interesting spin battles. Led by Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s spin attack put up effective displays save their last game on Tuesday. (West Indies hammered 218 in a 104-run win at Gros Islet, St. Lucia. Though Mujeeb Ur Rahman is injured, they have wrist-spinner Noor Ahmed and Mohammad Nabi (off-spinner) to support Rashid. The challenge for batters will be Rashid’s ability to build pressure in the middle overs – all his six wickets in this World Cup have come in that phase.

Bangladesh spinners too will fancy their chances as the wickets wear out. Leg-spinner Rishad Hossain has seven wickets in four matches, combining well with Shakib Al Hasan.

WI on a high

In Group 2, West Indies will bank on left-arm spinners Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie against England, South Africa and USA. They shared 16 wickets in the first round. “We start with Akeal. His strength is predominantly in the powerplay, and while he does such good work there, right as we come out of the powerplay is Motie’s time…We picked both knowing the role they would play on these Caribbean wickets,” Windies captain Rovman Powell said. With Afghanistan, the co-hosts have the most frugal spin attack in this World Cup – Hosein has an ER of 4.13 and Motie 6.38.

Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shami’s match-winning 4/19 in the thrilling win over Nepal will boost South Africa’s spin options. Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj took five wickets at an ER of 6.08 in his three games.

England’s Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are seasoned while USA’s spin attack will be led by India import Harmeet Singh.

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