India finally kill the group stage

The de Leedes continue their domination. Notes on van der Merwe, Kohli's batting against left-arm spin, and Kohli's bowling.

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India made a lot of runs, and the Netherlands did not. I might be breaking news here, but I don’t think India have lost a game at this World Cup.

Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and the number four chat (SAK)

I did a whole piece on this ahead of the World Cup. India have seen a massive improvement in their number 4 & 5 as compared to the last tournament. This also takes the pressure off the top 3, and they have all been able to play their natural game in these tournaments.

This is KL Rahul by game. If your top 3 is doing the job, you don’t expect a lot of runs from your top 3. India want their top 4 to score the bulk of the runs. He played a terrific crisis knock against Australia and went ballistic against the Netherlands today.

India were 40/3 against England, and he made 39 off 58, in a low-scoring game. His partnership with Rohit proved to be extremely critical. He also has a few more cameos, but he wasn't required as much while chasing after the first game.

I wish Iyer played a lot more cricket coming into the tournament. I think COVID and injuries came at a really bad time for his development as a batter. Not the best start to his tournament, but he has really picked up in the back end - he was very impressive against South Africa, and he attacked against Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. Your number 4s and 5s should be able to knock the ball around and also be able to attack towards the end.

Kohli against SLA (JK)

So you may be aware that I am convinced that when India started making their pitches more helpful for spinners in Tests, Virat Kohli had to change his technique when playing spin, and specifically left-arm spin. Think of it something similar to what happened to Kevin Pietersen when DRS/Hawkeye changed the way umpires gave out to those dismissals. The way you batted before no longer works.

You can see by Abhishek’s tweet that the change has been dramatic, and has gone across formats. The reason for that, I would assume, is if you change your technique, it would bleed across all formats and not stick to one. But the changes he has made also aren’t really working.

You can see the economy really starts to drop off around 2019 in ODIs. And the same thing does happen for off-spin, but then he works it out. I would assume - based on watching him bat a lot of Tests, that he changed his batting against both types of spin.

This is his average against both types of finger spin, all three formats combined. You can see that while offspin has had a drop, it’s still a really good number, against left-arm orthodox it has fallen off a cliff.

But let’s just look at ODIs, because this is fun. Before he was better against the ball spinning away than in, which is not normal. It’s really rare. And he did that for a decade. And he was good against offspin. Now he is incredible against offspin, but cannot stay in against left-arm spin. Those kinds of patterns are really interesting and almost never come with a change of mindset, technique, or injury. My guess here is technique.

Kohli bowling (JK)

In 2011, Virat Kohli took 6 wickets bowling. The man was a beast.

Of course, that was his high point as a bowler. But he is a very interesting part-timer, who I have been on the record for years saying he doesn’t bowl enough. The reason for this is that what he bowls is very weird. He is not a spinner or pacer, but a weird hybrid. I have compared him to the unfashionable Kiwi ODI star Chris Harris. Essentially what Kohli bowls is a very high arm leg cutter from the wrong foot. It is not a normal thing for a bowler.

The only people who usually bowl leg cutters are quick, and obviously, that is not Kohli. He actually bowls very slow. But with some action on the ball. Meaning that any delivery could spin away. But he doesn’t put enough revs on that to happen a lot. And on top of that his balls drift in. So there is movement in, some away on top of the fact it’s a weird thing to face at a professional level. This is the kind of bowling you expect someone from your work to do when he only played a couple of matches in high school. But he also has that off the wrong foot - though it isn’t that - with a touch of one-armed windmill.

The point is, it’s odd. You don’t face these things a lot. And he is the ideal eighth bowler. Today he was the sixth. So he is moving up in the world. If he retires, I hope some small T20 league offers him a gig as a full-time bowler.

Roelof’s World Cup (SAK)

Today, I thought this was a perfect example of what Roelof van der Merwe could still do despite not being at. He is now an old defensive bowler, who is very clever. He has worked a way to keep the scoring rates down without ripping the ball. He started his career with South Africa with Johan Botha on his side, who was also a brilliant spoiler bowler while van der Merwe was the attacking option.

He’s bowled quite well against South Africa, Afghanistan and India in terms of keeping the scoring rate in check. The rest of the teams did attack him, and that’s okay.

The Dutch seam (SAK)

de Leede was the most expensive bowler in this World Cup, and van Beek was pretty high up on the list too. de Leede should at best be your 5th bowler - more of a Hardik Pandya or Ben Stokes role where you use him in more favourable conditions. But they have used him everywhere.

Van Beek’s a bit different here. I think his best use is as a first-change bowler behind van Meekeren and Klaassen and as a secondary death-overs option. Both these bowlers have been used beyond their capabilities.

I did this at the start of the World Cup, and I promised I would come back to it. It’s such a fun story because of how people talk about Dutch cricket importing players. His dad’s overall record was much like his - they both overperformed when it came to taking wickets at World Cups.

This is amazing for the Netherlands - 4 of the top 5 played for them in this tournament. This has obviously been their best World Cup campaign overall, and the entire bowling stepped up when it came to defending targets in the two games that they won.

The Dutch get runs up top (JK)

It has been a terrible World Cup for the Dutch top order, and today they were chasing 400 against the best bowling lineup in the World. I expected carnage. Instead, they lost a single wicket and scored at more than a run a ball.

Now it’s a flat wicket at the Chinnaswamy. But I’ve seen them play worse on flat wickets in the rest of the tournament. Max O’Dowd finally scored some runs against good bowlers in this tournament. I think Ackermann has underperformed for his talent at World Cups.