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Over the wicket, around the World Cup

Every team needs an X-factor in their bowling attack to scale the peak in the World Cup. Be it spinners or pacers, the wicket-takers will play a key hand in Indian conditions. The Telegraph looks at the potential stars

Sayak Banerjee Published 30.09.23, 11:03 AM
Mohammed Siraj.

Mohammed Siraj. File photo


A much-improved bowler in ODI cricket over the past year, Mohammed Siraj has turned himself into a vital cog in India’s bowling attack. Not just in terms of his consistent line and length, Siraj has also mastered swinging and moving the ball both ways, especially the outswinger, which too is a vital component of his armoury now. The Asia Cup final in Colombo last month underlined Siraj’s ability to rip through an opposition line-up. Agreed, the technically ill-equipped Sri Lankan batting was pathetic in that final, but one cannot take away the consistency with which Siraj was able to swing the ball. He has also proved his ability to keep bowling with the same intensity and can bowl the yorker-length stuff well too at the death. Importantly, he can take the pressure off India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.


ODI NUMBERS Played 30 Wkts 54 5-wkt 1 Best 6/21 Econ 4.87


Impressive showing against India in the 2021-22 season was instrumental in bagging Marco Jansen an IPL contract last year. The left-arm quick’s numbers in ODIs may not be as good as they are in Test cricket, but the 23-year-old is certainly capable of creating problems for opposition batsmen with the steep bounce he can extract. After all, he is 2.06m tall. In the fi fth and fi nal ODI against Australia in Johannesburg, where he took his career-best 5/39, Jansen exhibited his ability to create that angle across the off-stump, pitching the ball on the good-length spot. In helpful conditions, Jansen can obtain a fair amount of movement as well, something he had done even in his maiden IPL stint last year for Sunrisers Hyderabad. That he can contribute with the bat too adds to his importance.

ODI NUMBERS Played 14 Wkts 18 5-wkt 1 Best 5/39 Econ 6.23


Conditions in England are much different from that in India. So, like most of the other fast bowlers, Reece Topley’s job too becomes a tad tougher in this World Cup. He doesn’t have much experience of playing on Indian soil either. That said, England will still rely on this six-feet seven-inch tall leftarm quick for his ability to move the ball and bowl the wicket-to-wicket line that troubles batsmen. In other words, Topley’s accuracy is his main weapon and if he doesn’t drift in line or length, rival batters may fi nd him diffi cult to put away. India would certainly remember the game at Lord’s last year when Topley’s 6/24 blew them away in pursuit of 247. Even in the recent home series against New Zealand, he was consistent. The only concern with Topley is his tendency to sustain injuries.

ODI NUMBERS Played 26 Wkts 38 5-wkt 1 Best 6/24 Econ 5.21


Leg-spinner Adam Zampa was a part of Australia’s scheme of things in the 2019 World Cup as well. But this time around, he’s one of Australia’s go-to bowlers. With Ashton Agar ruled out, Zampa, as the lone specialist spinner in the squad, has extra responsibility. There will be pressure on him, but he has succeeded on Indian pitches in the past and that too by dismissing a few big names. Besides, he has been able to master the wrong’un quite well. His last few matches though haven’t gone too well as he took a bit of pounding from Heinrich Klaasen, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill in Australia’s recent ODIs against South Africa and India.

ODI NUMBERS Played 85 Wkts 142 5-wkt 1 Best 5/35 Econ 5.53


Sri Lanka may not be having too many reasons to be upbeat about their Cup chances, but they do have a surprise weapon in the form of left-arm spinner Dunith Wellalage. The 20-year-old had certainly left India surprised when he came out of nowhere to dismiss Gill, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in quick succession for his maiden fi ve-for during this year’s Asia Cup. The youngster can get the ball to drift, turn it away from the right-handed batters, bowl the straighter one, vary the bounce and also get it to grip on the surface. All these should come in handy in Indian conditions. Moreover, even if hit for a few runs, Wellalage doesn’t tend to buckle down and compromise on fl ight. Not at all defensive-minded, he looks to take wickets and that’s what drives him.

ODI NUMBERS Played 15 Wkts 19 l 5-wkt 1 Best 5/40 Econ 5.18

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