The Old Trafford pitch will witness Trent Boult’s dangerous in-swingers and Jasprit Bumrah’s fiery yorkers on Tuesday as an upbeat India take on a shaky Kiwi side in the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final.
The historic pitch, which has played host to World Cup games in the 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999 editions, will be the venue where one of the finalists of the 2019 edition will be declared.
We take a look at what the pitch has in store for both sides, based on what it has produced throughout the tournament.
Great surface to bat on
Old Trafford has been one of the best batting surfaces of the tournament. Of the 10 innings played here across five games, only one has seen a team score fewer than 200 runs. We have witnessed four 50+ scores, including England’s 397 against Afghanistan.
The team batting first has won the game on all five occasions at this pitch. The decision following the toss should hence be a no-brainer.
The teams batting first has also averaged 323.4 at Old Trafford in this World Cup. Although England’s massive score against Afghanistan skews the average, the fact that the team batting first has registered 290+ scores on four of the five occasions is a testimony to this being a batsman’s pitch.
Openers have put on big scores on this pitch and have provided their team great starts. Both the Kiwis openers registering ducks against West Indies could count as probably the only occasion when the team batting first started off horribly. That shows just how out-of-form New Zealand’s openers have been – they will therefore need to start off cautiously regardless.
Pacers over spinners?
Pacers have accounted for 62 of the 76 wickets that have fallen on this pitch. Spinners have scalped just 12 times and there have been two run-outs. The fact that pacers have had a massive share of the overs and have hence been able to pick up more wickets on this surface can’t be ignored.
But teams have generally chosen to go with extra pacers, often at the cost of a spinner. This paints a story of how the pitch is more likely to favour the fast bowlers. Pakistan attacked India with three pacers and four spinners and the Men in Blue cruised comfortably to the second-highest score at this ground – 336-5 – at this World Cup. The spinners failed to pick up a single wicket and pacer Mohammad Amir was the only bowler who made any impact.
Youngster Rashid Khan went for 110 runs in nine overs against England in what was definitely his worst performance to date. All other games have seen teams making the best use of the pacers.
The contest between Boult and Bumrah could hence prove to be a cracker of a contest. Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Mitchell Santner could play a key role in controlling the run-rate in the middle overs and are hence crucial for their team’s chances.
There have been no particular trends regarding how economical the bowlers have been in the last five games here. The pacers have averaged an economy rate of 5.66 but the spinners (6.00) have not been too expensive either.
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