27 July, 2021

Flight Plan

On flat World Cup tracks, spinners have struck back

Flight Plan

Ireland, plucky and pugnacious, chased down England’s 327 on Wednesday, making two strong points in the process. One, it shamed the ICC and the supporters of its decision to keep associate teams out of the next World Cup; two, it showed that on the flat tracks of the subcontinent, no total is too large and bowlers must operate with intelligence, innovation and guile. That’s something spinners can relate to.

South Africa and the West Indies, two teams that never had much depth or belief in spin, have opened bowling with spinners in the World Cup. Pakistan and Sri Lanka played a thriller in which spinners played a central role, led by Shahid Afridi and Muttiah Muralitharan. The leading wicket-taker after 15 matches is a spinner—Afridi; the most economical bowler (with at least 15 overs) is also a spinner—Ajantha Mendis.

Powerplays, bigger bats with broader edges and flatter pitches—you’d think that the spinners would come to a gory end. The first match did suggest an imminent massacre:...

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