India vs England | Takeaways : England’s Cardiff understanding and how Kuldeep used his freedom

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India vs England | Takeaways : England’s Cardiff understanding and how Kuldeep used his freedom

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Bastab K Parida

07/07/2018

England levelled the T20I series thanks to a fantastic bowling performance and an Alex Hales half-century to keep the series alive. However, the hosts' brilliant tactics to include Jake Ball in the team instead of Moeen Ali and Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling with freedom made headlines in the game.

England’s tall bowlers use the Cardiff boundary to great effect

Unlike the one at Old Trafford, Cardiff’s square boundary is way too long and their straight boundary is lesser than usual. Understanding that, England took a call to bench Moeen Ali for the game, and instead included Jake Ball, considering the Nottinghamshire pacer’s tall height and the ability to bang the ball in. 

In fact, all of English pacers - David Willey, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, and Jake Ball - are tall which allowed them to bowl more and more short balls and hit the deck hard, as clear in the below-mentioned pitch map. While England’s new-ball bowling, since the 2016 World T20, have been terrible - they have the highest economy rate in the Powerplay overs among the top 11 T20 teams - they made an exception today by keeping the ball more on the off and fourth stump line. 

 © ESPN Cricinfo

The short ball also made sure that Indian batsmen had to hit them either in front of the square or behind the square, and in doing so, the straight bat shots were negated completely. It was possible due to the tall stature of the players and for the fact that they didn’t deviate from the plan for a bit. The tactics also explains that how the understanding of the conditions help a team chalk out their strategy.

Kuldeep may have an off-day, but the wrist-spinners are on the right track

In an era when wrist spinners, led by Rashid Khan and Shadab Khan, are focusing on bowling faster and shorter deliveries to batsmen in check, Kuldeep Yadav is an exception and approached his bowling like the old-school wrist spinners who bowl slowly, toss the ball up and bowl full. The combination of Kuldeep’s slow, loopy pace and unexpected direction of spin, which he obtains thanks to his left-arm action, was too much for England’s middle order in the first game and they seemed clueless in the second game as well. 

He was ably supported by his partner Yuzvendra Chahal who bowled wide outside off stump and gave the ball more air than in his first over when he had bowled straighter and flatter. By bowling wide outside off stump, Chahal forced England batsmen to hit towards the bigger square boundaries, which contained the run-flow. 

The duo’s tactics played a part in stifling Alex Hales in the beginning. Hales is an exceptionally strong batsman in the powerplay, but he is not that bad outside of it either. Because of that reason, he managed to score that vital half-century, the mechanism of which I have explained in the next point. While Kuldeep was hit for a couple of sixes by Jonny Bairstow in the end, he made sure that he kept India in the game. This can also be credited to Virat Kohli, of whom the duo have always talked about highly for giving them the freedom to bowl as per their own plan. 

Hales’ minor tweak in batting kept him in good stead

After England’s resurgence in the limited-overs cricket, it has now come to a point that no player is completely safe in their position and it was evident when a batsman like Alex Hales was confined mainly to the bench. In such an environment, any slumps in form are unlikely to be tolerated for long. Alex Hales knew he had to stop the rut in his batting at the earliest so as to get a place in the side for long. 

In England’s Australia tour earlier this year, Graham Thorpe commented that too much bottom hand involvement with his stroke-making is not working for him, as Hales looked completely at peace with his stroke-making and used his top-hand to score runs thanks to his natural power and the increased control over the shots. 

Off Hales’ 58 runs off 41 balls, he scored 56% of his runs in the leg-side and also scored one-third of his total runs in the mid-wicket region today. Given he still managed to score 44% of his runs on the off-side, it indicates that the bottom-hand didn’t take a backseat rather he used the top-hand more. This may help him more in in Bristol given the smaller boundary on one side of the ground.  

 © Cricviz

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