Bowlers strike back: In favourable conditions at the T20 World Cup, the bowlers have taken the cake

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Bowlers strike back: In favourable conditions at the T20 World Cup, the bowlers have taken the cake

By Samreen Razzaqui

After a match-winning spell against Pakistan in the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Jasprit Bumrah said in the press conference: “When the bat and ball challenge is good, it is more interesting to watch the match. When it’s bat versus bat, I switch off the TV.

Bumrah has twice won the player of the match award on the trot, finishing with a solid 6/2 against Ireland in the opener and topping it up with a decisive 14/3 against Pakistan.

And, there are many like Bumrah – players and viewers alike – who cherish the balance between bat and ball. It provides a level playing field between the two arts that are crucial to capture the essence of cricket.

At the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024 in the United States and West Indies, scoring runs has not been easy. Venues in the US have presented novel conditions that have typically suited fast-bowlers so far, to the point where nobody really knows what a par score is.

Meanwhile, the pitches in West Indies are widely regarded as challenging and dynamic, providing an interesting test for both batters and bowlers.

The pitch and outfield, especially at the Nassau County International Stadium in New York, have been challenging for batters. But the bowlers are relishing the opportunity.

Although one may argue that the new American audience might enjoy run-fests and six-hitting marathons more, the pitches have not been conducive to that type of display. Instead, what has been seen is a riveting battle between bat and ball.

South African wicket-keeper batter Heinrich Klaasen, after a hard-fought win against Bangladesh, spoke about the New York pitch, saying, “Obviously, if you have to showcase it to the world and sell it, I don’t think it’s a great selling product, but for cricket, it’s tight competition. It brings the other teams and the higher teams very close to each other.”

As a result, bowlers are getting the recognition they deserve, especially in a sport and format where batters typically dominate. And as a result, smaller, less experienced teams are able to cause upsets based on their bowling might.

In the recently concluded Indian Premier League, for example, the bowlers really struggled to find that kind of validation because the flat pitches and smaller grounds favoured batters. In the World Cup, however, fast bowlers are getting more zip and bounce, and spinners are finding more purchase from the surface.

Since every match feels like a high-stakes affair in the World Cup, there are no easy games even if you are facing less experienced opponents. But it does make for thrilling cricket.

Everyone is on the edge of their seats and any team can emerge victorious on any given day.

There have been some arduous batting performances but so far, it is the bowling that has taken the cake.

Fun Fact of the week: Carlos Alcaraz’s win at the French Open made him the youngest men’s singles player to win a Grand Slam title on all three surfaces – hard, clay and grass – breaking Rafael Nadal’s record by 19 months. Alcaraz won the US Open in 2022 on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows in New York. In 2023, he won the grass-court Major at Wimbledon, and now, aged 21 years and 36 days, he won the clay court event at Roland Garros.

With the win in Paris, he becomes the seventh player to win a men’s singles Grand Slam on all three surfaces, joining the likes of Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Mats Wilander (he won the Australian Open title when the tournament was held on grass courts).

Here's a recap of the top stories from this past week

Shooting, Olympics 2024: Esha Singh earns spot for Paris to continue rapid rise in the sport

Football: Qatar loss aside, India have only themselves to blame for World Cup qualifiers fiasco

Chess: Arjun Erigaisi rises up the ladder with a new fitness regimen and different mentality

Indian Football: Sunil Chhetri, generational talent and eternal leader, walks off into the sunset

Cricket: Dogged batting, most economical spell – How Uganda earned first World Cup win across sports

Tennis: Sumit Nagal wins ATP Challenger in Heilbronn; likely to make Paris Olympics cut

Shooting, Olympics 2024: Manu Bhaker to headline 15-member Rifle and Pistol team in Paris

Hockey: India to host Men’s Junior World Cup in 2025

Indian chess Schism: A north versus south battle to host the World Championship match

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