By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) With the advent of two new balls in ODI cricket, the game has titled heavily in favour of the batsmen. Fast bowlers have not been able to successfully generate reverse swing – a big weapon in the arsenal of pacers in the 90s and early 2000s. As a result, we have witnessed a steep rise in the number of 300-plus scores posted by the teams in the last few years.
Coming to the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, the dry pitches and hot weather will make it even more tough for the bowlers, especially pacers, to contain the batsmen when they look to send them on a leather hunt.
While it is obvious that batsmen will find it relatively easy to score runs, the fielding captains will be looking at their strike bowlers to bring in new variety to outsmart the batsmen and keep them under check.
IANS looks at the top five bowlers who can pose a threat to batsmen in England during the showpiece event:
Jasprit Bumrah (India)
Rated by many as the best bowler in the world at present, Bumrah will hold the key to India’s chances of winning the World Cup for the third time. The number one-ranked ODI bowler is known to be a death-overs specialist. His unorthodox action, along with his ability to generate pace and bounce, can be highly tricky for the batsman to score runs.
Bumrah has been in top form in recent times, picking up 19 wickets in 16 matches in the recently concluded IPL which the Mumbai Indians won.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
The 23-year-old has taken centre stage ever since he made his international debut in November 2015. Rabada’s raw pace and his ability to generate bounce and swing on any given track provides skipper Faf du Plessis with an opportunity to pick wickets at any given stage of the game. Rabada played a vital role in Delhi Capitals reaching the playoffs as he picked up 25 wickets in the 12 matches he played. A stiff back saw him being ruled out of the tournament in the business end.
He is on his way to recovery and if South Africa are to get over their ‘choker’ tag, he alongside Dale Steyn and Chris Morris will have to perform a very important role in the World Cup.
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
The left-arm pacer is arguably one of those players who will be closely followed by cricket fans during the World Cup. Starc will have to play a big role in leading the Australian bowling attack in their bid to defend the title they won in 2015 at home.
The 29-year-old was in sensational form in the last edition of the World Cup in Australia and was named the Player of the Tournament after he picked 22 wickets in the showpiece event.
However, since then, Starc has not been able to replicate his performance. He has suffered from a lot of injuries in the last four years and also has lost the raw pace with which he used to threaten the batsmen.
Even then, he will be at the centre-stage and will hold key to Aaron Finch’s chances of raising the trophy at the Lord’s balcony come July 15.
Trent Boult (New Zealand)
The New Zealand left-armer has been leading the bowling attack since many years for his team. He, alongside Starc, was the leading wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup.
One of the key aspects which separates Boult with other pacers is his control and accuracy. He can swing the ball day in day out on any pitch across the world.
A veteran of 61 Tests and 79 ODIs, Boult has not been in the best of forms in the recent past. Even in the IPL, the 29-year-old didn’t get much opportunity to play and picked up five wickets in the five matches he played for Delhi Capitals.
Kane Williamson would be desperately hoping that Boult comes to his own in the World Cup and leads the pace battery from the front.
Hasan Ali (Pakistan)
The 24-year-old Hasan Ali rose from a talented bowler to a match-winner by delivering some dazzling performances during the 2017 Champions Trophy. Ali, who was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in the Champions Trophy, played a pivotal role in Pakistan clinching their maiden title by picking up 13 wickets.
Ali is capable of bowling a variety of deliveries and can constantly bowl over 90 mph and remains the go to fast-bowler for Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed whenever they are in search of wickets.
With 77 ODI wickets in 44 games, the right-arm pacer will be expected by both coach Mickey Arthur and Sarfaraz to replicate his 2017 performance in England and help the Men in Green add another World Cup title to their kitty.
(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])