Bowling short to ruffle batsmen is one of the central themes in the ongoing World Cup and the results have been spectacular. The percentage of short balls bowled by the seamers in this World Cup is far more that what it was in the 2007, 2011 and the 2015 editions. West Indies’ pacers have been at the thick of it all, especially after Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell scripted an easy win over Pakistan.

India haven’t got off to spectacular starts in both the games. They, however, haven’t lost too many wickets in the powerplay overs either.

  • Virat Kohli’s side score at a glacial 3.75 runs per over in the first ten overs, the slowest by any team at the tournament, but they also lose far fewer wickets.     
Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
  • 44.8% of deliveries bowled by seamers have been short, compared to 37, 37.3 and 31.9 in the last three World Cups.  
  • Remarkably over half, 52.5% to be exact, of West Indies’ balls have been short, with hosts England dropping short 48.7% and Pakistan 47.7% of the time.
  • Teams have taken a wicket with every 21 short balls bowled – whereas it takes 33 length balls and 35 back of a length balls to dismiss a batsman.
  • It’s not just West Indies, England and Pakistan. Eighteen out of the 35 deliveries Australia bowled to India’s Shikhar Dhawan in the first powerplay of Match 14 short-of-length.  
Ian Kington/AFP
Ian Kington/AFP

It’s not been just about the seamers, though. The tournament started with Imran Tahir picking up the wicket of Jonny Bairstow in the first over and setting off on his victory lap.

  • South African skipper Faf du Plessis became the first captain to chuck the ball to a spinner for the opening over of a Cricket World Cup in defeat to England.   
  • Bangladesh have also used spin in the early overs. Mehidy Hasan shot to prominence as a new-ball bowler in Bangladesh’s first ever Test win over England in 2016 – he has opened in two of his country’s three games so far.  

Spinners haven’t had the greatest record to boot in the powerplay either. They have been taken for runs as well.

  • Spinners have a worse strike rate in the first ten overs (48) than in any other stage, striking every 44 balls in the middle and 45 at the death.  
  • Spin costs 5.50 an over in the first ten, compared to 5.51 in the middle overs where they are used nearly nine times as much.  
  • Mujeeb Zadran (29) and Shakib Al Hasan (28) have taken more wickets than any other bowler in the first powerplay since 1999, so seeing them first up is no surprise.  

There was chaos all around him at Cardiff but Sri Lanka skipper was the calm amidst the storm during the 1996 champions’ thrilling win over West Indies.

  • Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne became only the second batsman to carry his bat through a completed World Cup innings. The opener was left stranded on 52 not out in a total of 136, the first person after Ridley Jacobs was left unbeaten on 49 in West Indies’ 110 against Australia at Old Trafford in 1999.    

It’s never over till its over. Shoaib Malik, Liam Plunkett, Lahiru Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis are proof of that.

  • It’s just over 12 years since Shoaib Malik and Liam Plunkett last appeared at World Cups, both playing in 2007, missing the next two tournaments before returning this summer. Sri Lanka alone are proof it’s never too late, with Karunaratne and Jeevan Mendis both playing just one ODI since the last World Cup and Lahiru Thirimanne recalled after an 18-month absence.   

The statistics were first published on the International Cricket Council website.