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Cricket World Cup 2019 | New Zealand Pace Attack Hunts in Group to Lay Down Early Marker

Nikhil Narain |June 2, 2019, 12:44 PM IST
Cricket World Cup 2019 | New Zealand Pace Attack Hunts in Group to Lay Down Early Marker

New Zealand’s pace attack ran through a brittle Sri Lankan batting order to register a big win in their World Cup opener at Cardiff. The fast bowlers picked nine of the ten Sri Lankan wickets to fall and skittled the Lankans for 136 – the seventh-lowest World Cup score registered by any team against New Zealand – such was their dominance.

But given the pedigree and the variety in their attack, it was hardly surprising that the Sri Lankan batting unit had no answer to the Kiwi's fast men.

The combined bowling strike rate (balls bowled per wicket taken) of the New Zealand fast bowling unit is the second-best in ODI cricket since January, 2017. They have picked a wicket every 34.4 deliveries approximately. Only the South African pace bowlers have fared better (a wicket every 33.7 deliveries).

Again, in terms of bowling average too (runs conceded per wicket taken), it is the New Zealand pace attack which is second only to South Africa’s in this period conceding 30.87 runs per wicket.

New Zealand bowl out Sri Lanka for 136 (Photo Credit: Reuters) New Zealand bowl out Sri Lanka for 136 (Photo Credit: Reuters)

The New Zealand fast bowlers have combined to take six five-wicket hauls in this period. Only the West Indian pacers have taken as many but in six more matches.

The ability of the Kiwi pace attack to pick wickets with the new ball and run through the batting line-up of the opposition – as they showcased against India in the warm-up and again at Cardiff – makes them a dangerous bowling unit.

In as many as 10 matches since 2017, New Zealand has restricted the opposition to below 200. They have won seven of these encounters.

Matt Henry was the destroyer-in-chief as he wreaked havoc on the Sri Lankan top-order. He gave New Zealand an early breakthrough when he removed Lahiru Thirimanne leg before wicket off the second ball of the match. He then broke a potentially threatening second-wicket stand and gave Sri Lanka a double blow seeing the back of the two Kusal’s - Perera and Mendis – off consecutive deliveries in the 9th over. He broke the backbone of the Lankan batting – and they couldn’t quite recover from these early setbacks. Henry returned with 3-29 in 7 overs.

Henry has an excellent ODI record with exceptional wicket-taking ability having picked 81 wickets in his short 44-match (42 bowling innings) career. His strike rate of 27.9 is the best for New Zealand in their ODI history (even better than the likes of Shane Bond) and the sixth-best overall (min. 75 wickets) after Rashid Khan, Mitchell Starc, Kuldeep Yadav, Ajantha Mendis and Mustafizur Rahman – that is how potent Henry has been with the new ball.

(Image: AFP)

Lockie Ferguson took the mantle from Henry and tormented the Sri Lankan middle order with his pace. He first got Dhananjaya de Silva leg before wicket with a length delivery bowled at 147 km/hour before getting Jeevan Mendis caught at gully to reduce Sri Lanka to 60 for 6. He returned to clean up Lasith Malinga dislodging Lanka for a paltry 136. He ended with 3-22 in 6.2 overs.

Ferguson has picked 44 wickets in just 24 innings at 25.04 apiece at an impressive strike rate of 28.

Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham also picked a wicket each.

Ferguson (28) and Boult (28.4) are amongst the five most threatening wicket-taking fast bowlers in ODI cricket (in terms of strike rate) since 2017.

The variety in the New Zealand attack makes it even more threatening. While Henry is a skiddy fast bowler who consistently bowls a fuller length (all his three dismissals came off deliveries pitched up) above 140 kms/ hour, Ferguson is an out and out tear away fast bowler who bangs it in short or just short of good length making the batsmen jump with his extreme pace.

Trent Boult

Boult is the left-armer in the attack who makes the new ball swing both ways and is lethal when the overhead conditions offer him assistance.

His bowling average of 24.83 is the fourth-best amongst all contemporary fast bowlers only after Starc, Jasprit Bumrah and Mustafiqur Rahman.

Neesham’s bowling strike rate of 32.5 is commendable for an all-rounder with a batting average in excess of 30 and strike rate in excess of 100. de Grandhomme is a disciplined line and length bowler with an excellent economy rate (for a fourth or fifth change bowler) of 5.05.

Tim Southee – one of New Zealand’s most experienced fast bowlers with 185 wickets in 139 matches – did not make it to the XI – this signifies the quality and depth in the pace bowling reserves of New Zealand.

On helpful conditions this attack could be a handful for the best in the business.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

5 4 1 0 8 +1.86
5 4 1 0 8 +0.81
4 3 0 1 7 +2.16
4 3 0 1 7 +1.02
5 2 2 1 5 -0.27
5 1 2 2 4 -1.77
5 1 3 1 3 +0.27
5 1 3 1 3 -0.20
5 1 3 1 3 -1.93
5 0 5 0 0 -2.08

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more