Friday, June 19, 2009
The Kennington Oval is a batting paradise but the wicket slows down considerably under the lights. A 45-run difference between the average first innings and second innings score at this venue may emerge as a key to the strategists of West Indies and Sri Lanka.
The high scoring nature of this wicket will help both Sri Lanka and West Indies. Secondly, traditionally the Oval wicket is very balanced as out of the 10 T20 Internationals played here, 5 of them are won by team batting first.
So what should a captain do? Chase a target or defend a total? Let’s weigh the options.
Considering the hard hitting ways of batting in both the sides, an average first innings total of 180 or more would be the ideal start that both the teams will be looking at. According to Castrol Index, Sri Lanka has won 80% of its matches batting first with a par score of 161 and a Batting Momentum (BM) of 215.
What is more bothering, however, is that the average second innings score at the Oval is around 135. The 45 runs difference between the two innings, coupled with Sri Lanka’s bowling prowess may land West Indies in trouble should they decide to chase here. The three main Windies’ bowlers – Bravo, Taylor and Edwards – have given away around 9 runs per over in this tournament, which translates to around 110 runs in the 12 overs they bowl. In contrast, the Lankan trio of Mendis, Murali and Malinga concede only 75 runs in their 12 overs. This difference of 35 runs is a huge savings in a T20 International. Will Sri Lanka be better off defending a total on this wicket then?
Now let’s see the options favourable to chasing:
• Gayle and other Windies’ batsmen are in great form and have proved that they are great chasers. They have to score at least 35 runs more off the Lankan Three M’s to offset any calculation
West Indies have proved earlier that they are good chasers at the Oval. Will they take the chance again at the Oval?