Greaves’ Heroics and Oman’s Dominance: Dissecting Day One | T20 World Cup
Scotland won the boundary battle, Zeeshan nailed his matchups as skipper. Ronan Alexander and Jay Dansinghani discuss five talking points from Sunday
Chris Greaves’ all-round masterclass helped Scotland record a memorable six-run victory over Bangladesh to kick off their Men’s T20 World Cup campaign. With the purple lids stuck on 53 for 6, the result looked like a foregone conclusion. But Chris Greaves and Mark Watt had other ideas. A 51-run partnership and 45 from 28 balls from Greaves got the Scots up to 140/9 before Shane Burger’s side held their nerve, choking Bangladesh for boundaries.
Earlier in the day, Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood took 4-20 to ignite a dramatic Papua New Guinea collapse before the openers made short work of a target of 130.
Here are a few talking points from each of the two games on the opening day.
Bangladesh vs. Scotland
Scotland’s bowling options at the death
Any captain would count themselves lucky if they had three reliable death bowling options at the death of a T20 innings. Kyle Coetzer is fortunate enough to have four and one of them is left-arm spinner, Mark Watt. Brad Wheal usually operates as a top-tail bowler, Safyaan Sharif has been the main man at the death for Scotland in recent years and Josh Davey is astute in this phase of the game too.
However, since the start of 2019, Watt has bowled eight overs during the death (overs 16-20) with a better than par economy of 8.5. Even if this isn’t the largest sample size, he’s only conceded one six in that time.
Watt bowled the 18th over against Bangladesh, which only went for five runs and included the crucial wicket of Afif Hossain. In addition to his nagging accuracy, what makes him so effective is that his quicker delivery is deceptively quick with some deliveries last night hitting 67 mph. Another standout variation was how he often caught batters by surprise be delivering the ball a yard behind the popping crease.
Bangladesh’s intensity and execution of their bowling plan in the first 45 minutes of the game was great to watch. They set the field to stop George Munsey from reverse sweeping, which worked and resulted in his dismissal. Perhaps they could’ve bowled Shakib in the Powerplay like he has been doing recently with KKR in the IPL.
However, as threatening as Mushfiqur looked at the halfway stage of Bangladesh’s chase, he could have gone after Michael Leask a little sooner.
Leask’s economy rate is considerably higher against right-handers and he is mainly used as a matchup to bowl tightly against left-handers. Leask’s second over was tight until his final three balls went for 14 courtesy of some productive Mushfiqur slog sweeps. However, his first over only went for 2 and Mushfiqur faced four of those deliveries, scoring just a single. Perhaps Mushfiqur could have attacked the Scottish off-spinner much sooner.
Bangladesh’s lack of intent with the bat
When chasing down their target of 141, Bangladesh went about it in the old-fashioned way of keeping wickets in hand and trying to take the game deep through the partnership of Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan. They tried to keep the scoreboard ticking, which meant they only faced 42 dot balls throughout their innings compared to Scotland’s 55.
However, they only scored 11 boundaries, three of which came in the last over when the result was pretty much sealed, compared to Scotland’s 15. According to CricViz data, in games where one team wins the boundary battle and the other the dot ball battle, the team with more boundaries wins 64% of the time. Simply put, scoring boundaries wins you more games.
Afif Hossain looks like a good candidate to play with more intent, but perhaps this is the result that changes the way the Tigers approach chasing a target. In spite of the fact that they’ve largely played on slow and dry surfaces at home, it’s still concerning that Bangladesh have only scored 140 plus in one of their last 10 T20Is.
Oman v PNG
Zeeshan acing left-right matchups
Some people were surprised when Assad Vala didn’t walk out to open with Tony Ura especially as they averaged 53.9 as an opening combination in the 2019 Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier.
However, whether deliberate or not, opening with two right-handers in Ura and Lega Siaka meant that Oman had to bowl to a middle order packed with left-handers Vala, Charles Amini and Sese Bau. It also meant that eventual Player-of-the-match Zeeshan Maqsood was hesitant to bring himself on during the 81-run partnership between Amini and skipper Vala. He bowled his first over in the 13th after Amini was run out, but Vala laid into him immediately with a six and a four off consecutive deliveries.
PNG looked good for a total approaching 160 until seamer Kaleemullah dismissed Vala as soon as he was brought back for his third. This allowed Maqsood to bring himself on in the very next over, where he struck with the very first ball with one that angled into right-hander Norman Vanua and turned away to clip off stump. Maqsood would go on to take two more wickets in the same game-changing over, including another right-hander in Kiplin Doriga who popped a leading edge to Sandeep Goud in the ring off one that held up in the surface.
While Maqsood was wise to hold himself back against PNG’s left-handers, he was arguably fortunate that Vala was dismissed in the 15th over. In any case, it was his captaincy that exposed Vala to a less favourable match-up. Maqsood deserves credit for playing the percentages as skipper even if the real return of his bowling changes was above the expected return.
Oman’s Openers miles ahead of PNG’s
PNG could barely have imagined a worse start, losing both Ura and Siaka before registering a single run on the board. Ura’s form is particularly concerning given that he’s arguably PNG’s best T20 batter. The swashbuckler has only scored 143 runs in ten white ball innings since the 2019 Qualifier.
His dismissal on Sunday was perhaps an unfortunate symptom of PNG’s lack of T20I cricket in the last two years, where they’ve only played three games in the shortest format. That he looked like a shadow of his usual self is a perfect illustration of the challenges that lie ahead for a rusty Papuan outfit whose Net Run Rate has already taken a beating.
Oman, in contrast, did not lose a single wicket as Jatinder Singh and Aqib Ilyas chased down 130 with consummate ease. Jatinder, whose T20 strike rate once languished in the nineties, is arguably the single-most improved batter in men’s associate cricket in the last couple of years. That Aqib Ilyas was able to transfer his ODI form to T20Is does not bode well for opening bowlers in the opposition.
However, with Oman’s best two batters opening the innings, they are a top-heavy batting unit. How Oman responds against Sri Lanka and Scotland if either (or indeed both) of these two is dismissed cheaply, may well decide who goes through to the Super 12 stage.
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