If the first several matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 are anything to go by, pacers have mostly dictated terms in the ongoing tournament and have accounted for a bulk of the wickets. And while there have been three innings with scores in excess of 300 till before the England vs Pakistan clash on Monday, pacers have largely called the shots so far.
Every team competing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 has played at least one match so far - barring India. The Men in Blue kickstart their campaign against South Africa this Thursday and while all eyes would be on the battling stalwarts in the side, Indian pacers - led by Jasprit Bumrah - could walk away with most of the glory. Bumrah is the No. 1 ODI bowler in the ICC rankings and has repeatedly shown charismatic ease in adapting to varying conditions. On bouncy tracks in England, he could well become the biggest thorn in the flesh of rivals. And for now, he has South Africa firmly in his sights.
The Proteas have had a disastrous start to their World Cup campaign. In their first match, chasing England's 311, the batsmen surrendered to the might of young Jofra Archer. The pacer claimed three wickets courtesy speeds touching the 150kmph mark. He used the short ball to devastating effect and was helped ably by Ben Stokes (2/12) and Liam Plunkett (2/37). As a result, South Africa folded for 207 inside 40 overs.
In just the second match of the tournament, Pakistan were bowled out for 108 in 21.4 overs. The batsmen had no answers to the menacing pace and bounce of Oshane Thomas who picked four for 27. He was supported by fellow pacer - and captain - Jason Holder (3/42).
Next up were the Kiwis who bundled out Sri Lanka for 136 with pacers Lockie Ferguson (3/22) and Matt Henry (3/29) leading the charge.
The only match, in fact, that has seen batsmen come out of their shell to shine bright was when Bangladesh scored 330/6 against South Africa. The Proteas put up a stiff challenge and only fell short by 21 runs. Nonetheless, the early trends from the World Cup is quite clear - use pace to blunt any batting attack. According to statistics, 23 of the 54 wicket-claiming deliveries in the first four matches of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 were pitched short or short of a length by fast bowlers. Pacers have also claimed a wicket after every 19 deliveries, on an average.
Now, the Proteas may have learnt their lessons from their first two matches and are itching for their maiden win but the Indians would be standing like a massive rock in their road to redemption. The champions of 2011 are known for their batting prowess and under Kohli's leadership, are a formidable hunting unit when batting. It is, however, the bowling that may get to dictate terms with Bumrah getting the likely support of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya.
The team's opener will be at The Rose Bowl in Southampton which could point to a completely different direction than the one seen in the first few matches of the World Cup so far. The last ODI played here saw England scoring 373/3 against Pakistan on May 11. Pakistan replied by scoring 361/7. It was a batting fest that would inspire Indian batsmen to rise to the occasion. Any green tinge, however, could hand over the initiative to Bumrah and Co. The biggest question, therefore, is how well Indian batsmen would be able to adapt to the short stuff that the team's bowlers are sure to dole out to rivals - regardless of the conditions.