India v Pakistan & Australia v England – A Weekend of Rivalries

India v Pakistan & Australia v England – A Weekend of Rivalries

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As part of our ongoing collaborations for the 2024 T20 World Cup, we’ve teamed up with CricAspect for a fresh look at India in this article. In time for the headline India v Pakistan clash on Sunday, they do a deep dive into India’s squad, running down the numbers on the various options available and the selection questions facing the management. Don’t miss this one – it’s the only guide you need to the Men in Blue in 2024.

That’s not all. To complete a blockbuster weekend, Wicky’s picked out a few key players for Australia in Saturday’s game against England. It could have huge ramifications for Group B – and we delineate Australia’s possible plan of attack against England’s weaknesses in this piece.

India v Pakistan

Sun 9/6, 9.30am (local)

Every time selectors declare the Indian team for a World Cup, plenty is talked about the players who have missed out. This year was no different as Rinku Singh and Shubman Gill were excluded from the 15 (included only in the traveling reserves). Let’s take a quick look at the Indian squad:

  • Batters: Rohit Sharma (captain), Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Yashasvi Jaiswal
  • Wicketkeepers: Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson
  • All-rounders (seam): Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Shivam Dube
  • All-rounders (spin): Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel
  • Spinners: Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
  • Seamers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh

Many players in this team are automatic choices for their respective positions – but it’s not all as straightforward as it sounds.

Who will open with captain Rohit Sharma?

Yashasvi Jaiswal is the designated (and only regular) opener in the squad besides skipper Rohit Sharma. The decision on him could potentially decide India’s team combination in the T20 World Cup.

Jaiswal had an underwhelming IPL this season as he scored 435 runs in 15 innings, averaging 31. Close to 24% of those runs came against the Mumbai Indians, who finished at the bottom of the table. This is surely a below par season for Jaiswal because of the standards he has set for himself with his past performances.

On the other hand, Virat Kohli, who opened for RCB, had a stellar season as an opener.

cricaspect virat kohli in the powerplay in ipl 2014-24

Compared to the past ten seasons, Kohli has never had this kind of impact as an opener as he did in 2024. This year, he scored 373 runs in first 6 overs, at a strike rate of 163.6. In the powerplay, he averaged in the 90s.

Kohli also hit a boundary every 4th ball – again, the fewest he has ever taken inside the powerplay. His tally of 21 sixes this year is also far superior to any of his last ten seasons.

cricaspect virat kohli powerplay batting in the ipl

Now this isn’t just about Kohli’s own batting performances, as he would normally bat at number 3 and Suryakumar Yadav would bat at 4, which is not exactly an ideal situation for India.

The Surya conundrum

If Virat opens the batting alongside Rohit, then Suryakumar Yadav would naturally bat at number 3, unless they decide to bat Rishabh Pant there (to be discussed later), which means his entry points will be in a favourable zone.

Most of Surya’s impact knocks have come when his entry points were in the first 6 overs. He is a high quality player, a genuine match winner in this format and he can definitely play a game-changing innings even if his entry points are delayed.

cricaspect suryakumar yadav entry points in ipl & t20is

But in conditions where scores of 160-170 could potentially win you games, it makes a lot of sense to put both Kohli and Surya in the top 3. Having Surya at number 3 also means that India can have Shivam Dube at number 4. That, again, is a position which best suits Dube.

Kohli opening the batting can also allow the team management to use Rishabh Pant in top 3. This will add an aggressive left-hander to the mix which could be required to tackle left arm spin on sluggish pitches.

Keepers & bowling combinations

If the team management decides to go ahead with a combination of Pandya at 7 and Jadeja at 8 along with three front line bowlers, it means Pandya, Dube, and Jadeja will have to bowl 8 overs between them.

This will allow India to include both Pant and Sanju Samson in the XI. On slowish pitches, Dube can actually be a very good 6th bowling option. But on flat tracks, India may need another frontline bowler.

Given how things have gone in the past, India prefer playing full tournaments with only one designated wicketkeeper. They don’t like changing keepers, which is sensible, so whoever starts with the gloves against Ireland may well be the designated keeper for at least the next 4-5 games.

If both Pant and Samson start, the chances of the former keeping wicket are much higher. Samson is a much better outfielder whereas Rishabh has established himself as a Test level wicketkeeper. [Editor’s note: Pant kept wicket v Ireland & batted at #3 while Samson was excluded from the XI]

Who will be the 2nd seamer ?

Jasprit Bumrah is one of the first names on the team sheet so that’s an automatic pick, but his bowling partner is still a topic for discussion. India have gone ahead with Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh with Khaleel Ahmed waiting in the reserves.

Team 1

If India decide to play Pandya at 6, then they can have 6 genuine bowling options. Let’s look at that team:

Top 5: Rohit, Virat, Suryakumar, two from Shivam Dube/Sanju Samson/Rishabh Pant

6 & 7: Pandya, Jadeja

8-11: Kuldeep, Arshdeep, Siraj, Bumrah

Team 2

Scenario 1: On pitches where there is purchase for the spinners, Jadeja is a proper frontline spin option. If the management feels that they need an additional batter as Pandya can be used as a 3rd seamer, then it becomes a straight shootout between Arshdeep and Siraj.

Scenario 2: If India feel they need a 3rd spinner, in the form of Yuzi Chahal or Axar Patel, it still becomes a straight shootout between Arshdeep and Siraj.

So, if it comes down to Siraj v Arshdeep, who should India pick as a 2nd seamer?

Arshdeep being a left armer adds a different dimension to the attack. He is known for his new ball spells but he’s also a very handy death overs bowler.

Siraj, on the other hand, is primarily a new ball bowler. He’s mainly used for 2 overs upfront, 1 over through the middle, and 1 over at the back end. Meanwhile, Arshdeep is known to bowl 2 overs upfront and 2 at the back end of the game.

cricaspect pace distribution of siraj and arshdeep in ipl 2024

When it comes to pace, Siraj is normally quicker than Arshdeep and can bowl in high 140s.

cricaspect siraj and arshdeep game phase bowling since 2021

Both Siraj and Arshdeep have very similar numbers overall. The obvious difference is that Arshdeep has bowled more overs at the back end.

cricaspect distribution for arshdeep and siraj in overs 16 to 20 in IPL 2023 and 2024 (1)
Distribution for Arshdeep and Siraj (overs 16-20) in IPL 2023 and 24 – I
cricaspect distribution for arshdeep and siraj in overs 16 to 20 in IPL 2023 and 2024 (2)
Distribution for Arshdeep and Siraj (overs 16-20) in IPL 2023 and 24 – II

Both Siraj and Arshdeep as new ball bowlers are terrific and their numbers speak for themselves.

Arshdeep v Siraj at the death

At the back end of the game, Arshdeep likes bowling more yorkers and full length deliveries (also more full tosses as a result), besides knuckle and slower balls. Siraj, however, relies on bowling off cutters and wide yorkers. He also bowls plenty of deliveries in the short and short of good length area.

In the death overs (16-20), bowling more than 2 overs of Pandya and Siraj at the back end may backfire. They both rely on bowling similar lengths (good and short of good lengths) as well as variations.

In such situations, the ideal choice would be Arshdeep Singh, who has more options while bowling slower deliveries. Historically, he has relied a lot more on traditional full length and yorker deliveries. It makes him a slightly better option than Siraj in a two-seamer setup.

As the tournament progresses, we will have to see how the pitches behave because that’s where team combinations will be decided. So far, the surfaces have been slowish in nature. But it is expected that the drop-in pitches will settle down a bit and behave better as the tournament goes ahead.

India always had this problem of plenty where many quality players tend to miss out in their starting XI. In the challenging batting conditions of the United States and West Indies, team combinations will become even more critical.

India definitely have the right arsenal – it’s the tactical usage that will decide the final outcome.

Australia v England

Sat 8/6, 1pm (local)

Can Australia avenge their T20 World Cup final defeat in Barbados 14 years later?

It’s a clash of champions on Saturday in the T20 World Cup – holders England face reigning ODI World Champions Australia in a high intensity match at Kensington Oval. It’s where England lifted their first ever ICC trophy, defeating Australia by 7 wickets in the 2010 T20 World Cup final.

A lot has changed since. Australia laid hands on the T20 World Cup for the first time ever in 2021. England won another title in 2022. The latter are coming off a 2-0 series victory against Pakistan at home but weren’t able to take even a single wicket against Scotland in their first match of the World Cup, which was a no result due to rain. Mark Wood and Jofra Archer bowled a brilliant opening spell but their spinners looked out of touch.

Meanwhile, Australia beat Oman in their opener on Thursday and looked much better. Several of their squad are hot off a great IPL campaign, with three of them – Cummins, Starc, and Head – even featuring in the final.

Australia’s key players

David Warner’s performance against England has never been able to justify the kind of player he was for Australia throughout his career. However, he opened his World Cup account with a fifty against Oman. Can he make a mark in (possibly) his last outing against the Poms?

A lot also depends on Pat Cummins with his leadership and variations in the death overs. We’ve seen bowlers who mix up their pace and lengths being successful at Barbados.

England’s middle order v spin

Adam Zampa’s role will be vital in taming the hard-hitting English middle order. We’ve seen Liam Livingstone, Jonny Bairstow, and Harry Brook succumb to quality spin in the IPL. In that competition since 2021, Livingstone is a peerless pace basher but strikes in the 100s against the ball turning away from him.

A high average tells us that Livingstone doesn’t get out much to left arm orthodox spin. But the exact opposite is true for leg spin.

liam livingstone batting v bowler types in ipl since 202
Livingstone’s batting by bowler type since IPL 2021, on Wicky’s Men’s T20 Portal

In the same time, Bairstow is marginally better against leg spin, although not much better. He’s also less vulnerable to losing his wicket to that type of bowling. But his record against left arm finger spin is worse than Livingstone’s.

jonny bairstow batting v bowler types in ipl since 2021
Bairstow’s batting by bowler type since IPL 2021, on Wicky’s Men’s T20 Portal

In the IPL, Brook has played much less than the other two. But early signs say his struggles are much the same.

harry brook batting v bowler types in ipl since 2021
Brook’s batting by bowler type since IPL 2021, on Wicky’s Men’s T20 Portal

The combination of the England middle order’s specific difficulties against leg spin and the slow, turning surfaces in the West Indies mark out Zampa as particularly critical to Australia’s attack. As in 2021, when he bowled superbly, in conditions where spin has outsize influence, the stage is set for Zampa to shine once more.


If you want to follow more of our T20 World Cup analysis or any of our other work at Wicky, please reach out via email or on social media.

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