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Sunday, March 22, 2015

2015 World Cup - Bring on the semifinals

After the league stage, the individual standings looked quite interesting - while few batsmen performed as well as their form in league (Guptill, Gayle), the leading bowlers were those who shone in the Quarterfinals (Shami, Wahab Riaz). There are few new entrants into the Top 50 club in both departments but we will now focus on players of teams that still have a chance to win the Cup.

Let us look at the leading batsmen and bowlers once again after the quarterfinal and predict who will do well in their respective semifinal.

Batting

The semifinal between India and Australia will be interesting purely from the perspective of how Mad Glen Maxwell will be tamed by MSD - if you remember, Maxwell has hurt Dhoni quite a bit in IPL (check this knock here). If one sees the chart below, key highlights and analysis include
  • Maxwell appears in isolation with a high rotation-rate (David Miller being his nearest competitor). What this means is that these two are very adept at rotating the strike while scoring 300 runs. Dangerous batsman to watch out for the Indians (no surprises there).
  • Indians have scored higher mainly because of the abandoned match against Bangladesh and hence contributing to one less innings for Australia
  • Australian rotation rate on average is higher than the Indians. The Indians should avoid the dot-balls while trying to increase the same for the Australian batsmen - easier said than done. 
  • The size of the circles (calculated from the product of Rotation Rate, Average and Strike Rate) also shows the key batsmen being Maxwell and India's Suresh Raina. 
  • Virat Kohli and Steve Smith are the ones who are in the middle of the chart - they seem to be the dangerous floaters who can make an impact in this match (considering their recent form prior to the World Cup) 
  • Watson and Dhoni have not hit as many runs as the others but that could be attributed to their position in the batting order. 
  • Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan's rotation rates are quite low, compared to the others. This is reflective of the strategy followed by India where they have tried to retain wickets for the end overs.


The other semifinal shows clear trends unlike the one above where the players seem to be bunched together. The South Africans seem to rotate strike better than the others - are the Black Caps focusing more on boundaries alone? Possibly if you consider McCullum, Anderson and Guptill. In terms of runs scored, Guptill is the one who has scored the highest in the competition but there are four others who have scored higher than the next Black Cap (McCullum). But the Proteans lost two matches in the league stage thanks to inspired bowling by India and Pakistan. New Zealand with their home advantage would have to repeat their league form to restrict their opponents - if not, the target (if SAF play first) will be 350+


Bowling

Highlights from the bowling chart shows

  • The bowling chart shows Mitchell Starc being the leader but there are four Indians between him and his fellow opening bowler (Mitchell Johnson). India should weather the Starc-storm at the top of the innings to build a good total whether during the chase or setting a target. Considering the fact that Dhawan and Rohit have contained their wickets in the beginning, it will be a good fight at the top. 
  • Australia will struggle with their fourth and fifth bowler as they have not been as effective (in terms of wickets and strike rate) as the Indians. Will Faulkner and Watson step up in the semis?
  • In this chart, the circles in the lower half show the effectiveness of the bowlers. Jadeja has not had a good Cup so far and hence appears at the top. His spin will be effective against the Aussies especially at SCG where it is expected to support spin.
  • Shami and Umesh Yadav are the key bowlers from the Indian team who can hustle the Australian bowlers with the short stuff that Wahab Riaz troubled them with


The other semi-finalists are more bunched together in this chart - four Proteans versus four Black Caps. Steyn has not had a great World Cup so far and hence he appears more at the top of the chart. In terms of wickets, Boult, Vettori and Southee have claimed more in conditions that suit their bowling. Will Imran Tahir have the same impact in New Zealand - probably not, especially on smaller grounds - remember Ashwin's struggle in India's matches in NZ. The battle will be between how the supporting bowlers of both teams contribute to the attack - this will determine who comes on top.



Another list courtesy ICC's twitter id - all of them are still playing in the Cup except the first! The semifinal between NZ and SAF will be a six-fest hopefully. No Indian appears in this list!

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