by Sudipta Biswas
Let the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets over the focus will be shifted to cricket’s biggest ever extravaganza World Cup. Just three weeks to go for the much-anticipated May 30 kick-off between hosts England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval, London.
World no. 2 India are being dubbed as one of the top contenders for the World Cup this time around as Virat Kohli led India have played sensational cricket in recent time. The Men in Blue is said to have got the right balance in every department. The presence of experienced and young cricketers in the mix has made India looking strong.
However, there is still a concern which could hurt them going into the quadrennial event. India lack a key element that almost every World Cup winning team has in recent time. Following India’s World Cup squad announcement, there was a lot of talks regarding the absence of a left-arm pacer in their squad.
Left is right
There was a valid reason behind this debate as teams with left-arm pacers have had a better World Cup than their counterparts since the colour jersey has been introduced to ICC’s biggest event. The leading wicket takers in the five of the last seven World Cups (1992 to 2015) are left-arm fast bowlers: Wasim Akram (18) in 1992, Geoff Allott (21) in 1999, Chaminda Vaas (23) in 2003, Zaheer Khan (21) in 2011 and Mitchell Starc (22) in 2015. The only exceptions are 1996 and 2007.
It must be noted that in the last two World Cups, left-arm pacers played vital for the winning team. When it comes to pace and swing, left-arm pacemen make a huge difference, especially in the World Cup. The success of the last seven world champions has been built around a left-arm quick: Wasim Akram in 1992, Chaminda Vaas in 1996, Nathan Bracken in 2007, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra in 2011, and Mitchell Starc in 2015.
Coming back to the forthcoming World Cup, all big teams have got a left-arm fast bowler, the only exception is India who failed to produce a rhythmic left-arm quick after dedicating a long period in the lead-up to the World Cup.
This time India will launch their bid for third World Cup title with three genuine pacers and a bowling all-rounder. The only left-armer in the squad is spinner Ravindra Jadeja who is not even a sure shot for final XI. India’s World Cup bound team is currently heavily reliant on right-arm pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose poor form in IPL has become a matter of concern, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya.
This will be the second consecutive times India will play the World Cup without a left-arm pacer after 2003. In 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, India toured without a left-arm quick and Australia defeated them in the semi-final in Sydney. India, who performed really well throughout the tournament, missed the service of a left-arm pacer against the eventual champions Australia who literally toyed with right-arm Indian pacers.
Khaleel Ahmed, who is India’s only promising left-arm paceman in the current scenario, failed to make a cut in the Indian squad due to inconsistency. But, his impressive display in IPL put selectors in a serious dilemma; as a result, he has been kept as a reserve for the marquee event.
Now, it will be interesting to see whether the trend- ‘left is right’- continues or like the 1996 and 2007 editions, the 2019 World Cup proves itself as an exception.
Performances of India’s right-arm pacers, nevertheless, will be scrutinised in the World Cup.
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