Take a swing like Starc

Take a swing like Starc

That wasn't the rain in the end. Left-arm swing was used.

Only 37 overs were played in a cricket match that outlasted a bleak weather forecast. That isn't even half of the crowd that had gathered in Visakhapatnam to watch their first ODI in three years. It makes sense why they resisted leaving. A black tarpaulin covering covered the square following the post-match presentation, but thousands of onlookers remained there, possibly trying to make sense of what they had just seen. Fortunately for the audience, Mitchell Starc's bowling masterclass let them to leave having seen India bowled out for their fourth lowest score at home. Sean Abbott described it as a "clinic".

To be completely honest, it didn't feel like one of those days where you expect Starc to storm in and run roughshod over the competition. Instead, it was pleasant and sunny following a worrying rainy night for the organizers, and a straw-colored pitch promised to provide comfort to the hitters on the heels of a challenging surface in Mumbai. Yet, it turned out that the surface circumstances had little impact on the difficulty that India was unable to overcome.

Well, the wicket at Visakhapatnam had bounce, and the batters here have historically benefited from that. Consider the final ODI played here in 2019 against the West Indies, where KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma both played drives on the rise to reach their respective hundreds. The pitch on this occasion was fairly comparable, but with a little extra moisture from being covered for two days. However, Starc's swing was different from those of Sheldon Cottrell and Jason Holder. It was tough for the Indian batsmen to get behind the line since the ball swung quite late. It's unclear whether the occasional cloud cover had anything to do with this.

There were also runs available because Starc typically bowls longer lengths. He concluded with a 5 for 53 total, giving up nearly half of the runs that India scored, but the places he hit also caused more forced errors from the batters and more air time for the ball and deflection in the air. When they chased 144 kmph deliveries that were travelling away from them and failed to cover the swing, both Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma learned this lesson the hard way. As nonchalant as their dismissals appeared to be, they ultimately lost to strong deliveries. Outswingers bowled at a quick pace to draw you in.

The manner in which the following two wickets fell during that Starc spell was superb. To inswingers, and with some drama in the aftermath. When Rahul attempted to block an approaching delivery that was similar to the one that Suryakumar Yadav was caught by in Mumbai, he almost fell over.

With those hits from Starc's new ball, India had lost four wickets in 8.4 overs. They had previously struggled against excellent pace bowling with the white new ball, especially left-arm quick. Yet, if it seems like a frequent occurrence with this Indian team, blame confirmation bias. Not as frequently as you may imagine. In ODIs, no.

There have only been seven occasions in the 46 games since the 2019 World Cup when India has lost three or more wickets in the first 10 overs. There were just two collapses brought on by a left-arm pacer (Reece Topley in Manchester 2022 and Starc in Visakhapatnam 2023). Even better, on three of the seven instances, India went on to triumph. They may learn from those victories, though, that left-handed Rishabh Pant was crucial in disturbing the bowler's rhythm at Nos. 4 and 5, which allowed them to win. Starc had five consecutive right-handers in Visakhapatnam to aim at.

Examining India's victory over a similar Starc spell in Mumbai now makes sense. With Ravindra Jadeja at the crease, KL Rahul added 109 unbeaten runs for the sixth wicket and later admitted that life in the middle got a little easier. I got a few loose balls as soon as the lefty came in. That happens to the best bowlers," he had previously informed Star Sports. Therefore, India should think about including a left-handed pitcher in their top five. They had tried elevating Washington Sundar to the position of No. 4 in Dhaka recently and still lost, so you have to believe Rohit when he says that cricket works in a variety of ways. However, it might still be a strategy that India should investigate more.

In retrospect, it's possible (that having a left-hander bat in the top five would have made a difference) if you take a closer look at the situation. It's a game where certain things might work for you and some things might not, according to Rohit. Things might have been said differently if Jadeja, Axar, or another left-hander had moved up the order and left. I am certain that you are aware of how this game operates as well, as do I. We strive to get the best guys out there in the center to go and confront the task and the circumstance, but when things don't work out, many thoughts might arise, including the one you said.

"It goes without saying that an opposing bowler of merit will take wickets. Whether it's a left-armer or a right-armer, they will get wickets because he is doing all in his power to remove your best players. We've also been bothered by right-armers, but nobody talks about it. Because wickets are wickets, we don't focus too much on the left- or right-arm. Losing wickets raises questions. We will investigate a variety of issues, such as how we are leaving, what has to be done, and how we may develop better strategies and tactics to deal with the seamen."

So, did Starc's rhythm benefit from having five right-handers bowl the top overs? He said, "I cannot say if I have thought it that way. "Whether it is a left-hander or a right-hander, the plan remains the same for me. I'm still working on my fast bowling, swing, and stump-hitting. There are occasionally a few exceptions, and we have a lot of left-handers, but I don't plan any differently. In general, most teams have a reasonable number of right-handers. In no way have I interpreted anything from that."

As you can see, neither Rohit nor Starc described the game in terms of who batted and bowled with their left hand and where, but rather in terms of who played the best. Perhaps there is more to cricket than the inches, angles, matchups, and handedness that we so meticulously study. On days like this, it may just come down to playing some really solid bowling. envisioning a fast bowler charging in and tearing through the opposition. about the sound of the ball hitting the pad and the bails flying off. The hushed, seated Visakhapatnam crowd will have observed and heard everything that happened.


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