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T20 World Cup 2024: Power Game Narrative goes in the back-burner; Game of Attrition makes a return

T20 World Cup 2024: Low-scoring matches in World Cup call for a change in batters' strategy. How batters could address the more challenging conditions?

T20 World Cup 2024: SuryaKumar, Shivam Dube added 67-run against USA for the 4th wicket | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC_X)
T20 World Cup 2024: SKY, Dube showed patience on tricky NY pitch (Photo: ©ICC/X)

The T20 World Cup 2024, spanning the United States of America (USA) and the West Indies, has proven to be immensely captivating thus far. With 20 nations in contention, the competition is fiercer than ever, providing ample chances for teams to exhibit their prowess during the group stage.


However, contrary to widespread anticipation, the batters' journey has not been smooth sailing. The pitch conditions have posed significant challenges for batting, particularly given the fast-paced nature of T20 cricket.


One side of the cricket fraternity is blaming the pitches and the outfield that have been curated in the United States for the T20 World Cup 2024, while others blame the substandard cricket played by batters and teams in general. The experts even believe that modern-day batters have been so used to playing on flat pitches that these conditions are haunting them.


No room for IPL-style merrymaking 

In the West Indies and the United States, T20 dynamics have taken a drastic turn, where a score of merely 120 runs spells victory. India successfully defended 119 against Pakistan, who fell short by six runs, while South Africa held off Bangladesh with a defence of 113, winning by four runs.


This T20 World Cup presents a stark departure from the IPL, which concluded just six days prior, where teams were apprehensive despite setting targets nearing 270 runs. Batters around the world are used to playing on flat pitches that make it easy to hit the ball without worrying about it changing direction after it bounces. Now, they are finding it difficult to adapt to different conditions.



Statistics highlight batters struggled in US conditions

The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium has marked an enthralling international premiere, showcasing eight matches during the T20 World Cup in New York. Notably, the spotlight fell on the bowlers, particularly the fast ones, who reigned supreme on the four pitches of the venue. Regardless of their pace variations, bowlers found support from the pitches, making lengths the pivotal factor. Battling adverse conditions, teams eked out victories in New York, even with run rates dipping below one per ball.


Canada's 137/7 against Ireland stood as the highest total among the New York matches, with Ireland's 125/7 in the same game being the only other instance of a team surpassing 120 runs at the venue.


Setting a new record, the Nassau County Stadium became the first venue to not witness a total exceeding 140 runs across eight or more matches in a men's T20 tournament. Contrastingly, the Desert Springs Cricket Ground's highest total was 141, hosting twelve matches of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Europe Region Qualifier in 2021.


India's chase against Ireland was the lone instance of a team maintaining a run rate above seven per over among the 16 innings played in New York.


South Africa's successful defence of 113 against Bangladesh marked the lowest defended total in a full 20-over game at the Men's T20 World Cup, followed closely by India's defence of 119 the day before. This placed them joint second with Sri Lanka's 119 against New Zealand in 2014.


Fast bowlers dominated with 82 wickets at an average of 15.71, striking every 17.2 balls, while spinners managed 15 wickets in 61.2 overs at 25.46, striking every 24.5 balls.


Opening partnerships struggled, with Ireland and Pakistan's 26 being the highest, making Nassau County only the second venue without a half-century opening stand in a men's T20I tournament.


Moreover, the average first-wicket partnership of 12.18 was the lowest across T20I venues. Batters found relative success against full balls and full tosses from fast bowlers, scoring at a strike rate of 138.27, but struggled against other lengths, averaging a mere 11.02.


T20 World Cup 2024_ David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen during a partnership _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC_X)
Miller & Klaasen adjusted to the pitch very well (Photo: ©ICC/X)
Only a few adjust to situations

Rishabh Pant's innings against Ireland and Pakistan, Roston Chase's composed performance under pressure, and David Miller's resilient 59 runs at a strike rate of 115, particularly memorable after South Africa found themselves at 12/4 against Ireland, stand out among notable displays. Miller exhibited adaptability, adjusting his game to the prevailing conditions, offering insight into his character and enhancing his image as a T20 batter.


While many T20 batters worldwide have honed their power-hitting skills, the ability to defend resolutely against wicket-taking deliveries and exercise patience before unleashing big shots is crucial for success in the USA and the West Indies.



Why have the batters failed?

It is the batters and team management which should take responsibility for failures in an area which looked like a go-to deal for every team in T20 before they entered the US. 


Batters who solely rely on boundaries are experiencing a slump in performance. Surprisingly, eschewing the boundary-hunting approach might lead teams to higher scores than the current average of 115 runs. Had Pakistan adopted this strategy, they might have defeated India.


Despite the challenging conditions, it is intriguing to observe which batter exhibits mental resilience, adaptability, and astute decision-making in the face of adversity. 


What should the batters do?

In this on-going T20 World Cup 2024, batters facing challenging pitches need to adapt their strategies to maximise their chances of success. Many experts opine that modern-day cricketers, known for hitting the ball haywire, should adopt the old-school batting style when situations like these erupt. Basic footwork, proper shot selection, adapting to the situations, holding nerves, rotation of strike and clean hitting have been some of the go-to mantras in cricket which still hold relevance. 


Batters should be adept at reading the pitch and assessing the conditions swiftly. This means understanding whether it is a batting-friendly pitch or if it favours the bowlers more. Adjusting their game plan accordingly will be key. Given the pressure situations in T20 cricket, mental toughness is paramount. Batters need to stay calm under pressure, stick to their game plan and be ready to adapt as the situation demands.


In the powerplay overs, batters should look to capitalise on the fielding restrictions but without taking undue risks. It is crucial to balance aggression with caution during this phase.


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