The spotlight will be on the pace attacks of New Zealand and Pakistan once again as the two sides lock horns with each other at Edgbaston on Wednesday. The pacers of both the teams have hogged the limelight in the tournament so far, and the entire cricketing fraternity would be looking forward to yet another spectacular display of fast bowling this time around. It would be quite a duel to watch.
The Kiwis started their World Cup 2019 campaign with the demolition of the Lankan Lions. Their pacers completely blew the Lankan batsmen away as New Zealand romped home by 10 wickets, while chasing a target of 137 runs. Matt Henry was the wrecker-in-chief as he broke the back of the Sri Lankan top order with a spell of 7-0-29-3. Lockie Ferguson piled on Sri Lanka’s agony later on with a spell of 6.2-0-22-3. Trent Boult and other medium pacers like Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham chipped in with a wicket each as well.
It has been a one-way traffic for the Kiwi pacers since then. The whole unit has picked up 42 wickets in five matches ever since at an astonishing average and strike-rate of 21.45 and 26.6 respectively. None of the fast bowling units of other teams have been able to better these numbers. Even their economy rate of 4.82 is the best among all pace bowling units in the tournament so far.
|C de Grandhomme||5||5||1/14||24.4||4.35||33.6|
Table: Performance of Kiwi pacers in World Cup 2019
Lockie Ferguson has been the flag-bearer of this Kiwi pace unit in this competition with 14 wickets in five matches at a mean average and economy rate of 15.50 and 4.76 respectively. Boult and Henry have also done well with eight wickets each but Neesham is the one who has truly surprised with his medium pace. His 5/31 against Afghanistan is the second best bowling figure in the tournament thus far and he has been very effective overall as well. He was the one who took Carlos Brathwaite’s wicket in their previous match against the Windies to power New Zealand to a thrilling five-run victory.
As far as the Pakistani pace attack is concerned, they have’t quite been able to match the standards of that of New Zealand. In fact, they have taken 14 wickets lesser than that of the Kiwi pace attack in the same number of matches, that too, while conceding 10.05 runs more than them per wicket. Their economy of 6.36 is nowhere near to matching New Zealand’s 4.82. Only their strike-rate of 29.7 is somewhat close to New Zealand’s 26.6.
|Shaheen Shah Afridi||2||3||2/70||41.33||6.88||36|
Table: Performance of Pakistani pacers in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
However, there have been some exceptional individual performances from the likes of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz. Amir’s spell of 5/30 in the face of an Australian onslaught was truly mesmerising to watch, even though it came in a losing cause. Moreover, his spells of 2/49 and 2/67 against South Africa and England were equally good.
Wahab Riaz has done his bit too. Even though his overall figures do not seem impressive, his three-wicket haul against England paved the way for their first victory in the tournament. His spell of 10-0-46-3 played a pivotal role in their victory against South Africa as well.
Although Amir and Riaz have done well, it’s the performance of their third seamer—the likes of Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali—that needs to improve. Their dismal performances have continuously undone the good work done by the Amir-Riaz duo. However, there will be no room for complacency in their clash against New Zealand on Friday. So, it’s high time they stepped up.