Will India’s bowling attack be the best in World Cups?

India owes their aura of invincibility in this World Cup to their bowlers. In a series where 350 has been surpassed 11 times, they are one of only two teams not to score a 300-plus total. India have beaten teams below 200 in five out of eight matches. Two of the totals were under 100. Sure, their batters did their bit by averaging six runs higher than any other side, but then it was a World Cup that was truly about its time and the game itself: batter than bowler. And India’s bowlers put in performances that overcame the odds like few before them.

Beyond the field

In a World Cup where bowlers took a wicket every 34.39 runs on average and conceded runs at 5.73 overs, India’s bowlers averaged 19.02 at an economy of 4.40. That’s how far India’s field is with the ball. The second best bowling team in terms of average in this World Cup is South Africa. Their bowlers took 72 wickets at an average of 26.01. India’s 75 wickets became cheaper by almost 7 runs a pop. Among the teams that have taken at least 50 wickets in any of the last 12 World Cups, no team has beaten the second-best side in a series by such a large margin. Australia’s bowling attack in 2003 was the previous best in these terms. Their bowlers took 96 wickets at an average of 18.33 in that series, at 5.23 runs a wicket less than India, who took 82 wickets at 23.56.

Similarly, India’s economy of 4.40 runs is the best in this World Cup. India conceded 0.86 runs more than Afghanistan, the second place team. Among the teams that have bowled at least 300 overs in any World Cup series, no team has done better than the next best like India in this World Cup.

Amazing quality, quantity

The inclusion of Mohammed Shami in the playing XI has added venom to India’s bowling attack. In the four matches he played he picked up 16 wickets at a staggering average of 7.00. Jasprit Bumrah has 15 wickets at 15.53, and Ravindra Jadeja has 14 at 17.35. These bowlers have three of the four best bowling averages for anyone to take at least ten wickets in this World Cup.

Only one team has had three of its bowlers rank in the top four in this manner at any stage of World Cups before. New Zealand have Daniel Vettori, Trent Boult and Tim Southee in the top four in terms of bowling averages after the match against Afghanistan in the 2015 World Cup.

At this stage, the bowling attack that India has is one of the two worst teams to have at any stage of the World Cups. And it shows in India’s last four matches: their bowlers have taken 39 wickets at an average of 13.43 and a strike rate of 20.2. India conceded 3.97 runs, while they themselves scored more than six more than the opposition bowlers.

Best in all phases

Bumrah is at a paltry 3.65 runs in the series. He was even more miserable in the first ten overs, giving away runs at a rate of 2.73 runs per over. No bowler has bowled more than two overs in powerplays in this World Cup with better economy. As he tightened the noose around the opposition’s neck, India picked up wickets early and cheaply. India’s 18 wickets in the Powerplay was just short of South Africa’s 19 – the highest in these overs by any team. However, South Africa’s bowlers average 25.15 to India’s 18.11. India’s economy was also the best of the teams in the first ten overs.

The middle overs (from the 11th to the 40th) is when the Indian spinners replace their fast bowlers. Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav took 11 and 10 wickets at an average of 20.54 and 25.20 respectively in these overs. Among bowlers who bowl at least 90 deliveries in the middle overs, the economy of Jadeja and Kuldeep ranks No. 1 and 3 respectively. Overall, India’s economy in these overs has been the best of the teams. They also took the most wickets at this stage of the innings, and at a better average than any other team to boot.

The Indian bowlers didn’t do much in the last ten overs, but here too their stats were among the best. Their 18 wickets were second only to Pakistan’s 21 at the death, but those wickets came at an average of 12.72 runs – more than three runs short of Pakistan, who were next best. India is the only team to boast an economy of less than six overs at the death of this World Cup.

Good attack, which has never happened before

Indian pacers have taken 48 wickets at an average of 18.31, a strike-rate of 23.04, and an economy of 4.76. This is the best average, strike-rate and economy for any battery-powered team in this World Cup. Similarly, their spinners topped all three metrics with 27 wickets at an average of 20.29, a strike-rate of 31.03 and an economy of 3.92.

With a cut-off of 25 wickets each for pace and spin, no team in the history of World Cups has had their pace and spin attacks boast the best average, the best economy and the best strike-rate in the series as in India has this World Cup so far.

This Indian bowling attack can claim to be the most lethal and complete by any team in the ODI World Cup.

Shiva Jayaraman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo @shiva_cricinfo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: