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Win the toss, bat first. Or not. Why didn’t the old saying work in India this time

SportsCricketWin the toss, bat first. Or not. Why didn't the old saying work in India this time
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“When you win the toss, bat. If you are in doubt, think it over, then bat. If you are in great doubt, consult a colleague, then bat.”

This is a quote attributed to WG Grace, and the great man certainly followed his advice. He won four toss as captain of England, and bat first every time ,

In Indian conditions, batting first is almost always a no-brainer. There is generally not much help for fast bowlers at the start, and whether pitches are flat or spinner-friendly, they become difficult to bat on as Test matches progress. Teams winning the toss in India have 263 times at bat in Test cricket, and bowled only 22 times before,

In all these Test matches, batting first has certainly given the teams an advantage, however small. teams batting first won 90 Out of 285 Tests played in India, 80 have been lost.

Since the turn of the century, however, the script has been flipped, with teams batting first. 36 Tests won and 46 lost, What has happened?

What happened may have something to do with a pattern seen in the excellent book by Ben Jones and Nathan Lemon Hitting against spin: how cricket really works, In the book, Jones and Lemmon argue that teams should engage their opposition on flat pitches, which usually only begin to deteriorate towards the end of the third day, by which time both teams have usually batted once. Is.

From this point, the argument given in the book is that it is easier for the team batting second to convert a first innings lead into a win than the team batting first. Unless a follow-on is involved, the team batting second only has to chase down the set target, while the team batting first often has to calculate the timing of the declaration: when, and how big. with edge.

“Further evidence supports this hypothesis,” the book says. “In [the first 93 Tests played in India in this century]When the team batting first got the lead, they won 50 percent of those matches. However, the team batting later converted 70 per cent of its lead into victory. Although the first innings lead was slightly smaller for the team batting second, there were more wins overall.”



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However, the times of flat Indian pitches are over – at least for the time being. Indian pitches in the last few years have mostly changed rapidly, and have changed from start to finish. And yet, is there a case for the team winning the toss opting to bowl first? in the first three ongoing tests Border-Gavaskar TrophyEvery time the team batting after losing the toss has won. It’s a small sample size, but could it be onto something?

Rohit Sharma He was asked about this during the pre-match press conference in Ahmedabad.

“It’s actually something I really thought about,” he said. “If you win the toss, what should we do? So I think the three results that have come, the captains have preferred to lose the toss in that case. But that usually doesn’t happen. This is probably the first time that [the captain losing the toss] went on to win the game [all three times], I don’t think this has ever happened in India.

“Having said that, we know these conditions. We have played a lot of cricket here. The pitches definitely get slower and slower. There is a lot more wear and tear as the day goes on and the game goes on. So Obviously when you win after the toss you need to make the most of batting first. [Indore Test]We didn’t bat well enough in the last game, which cost us in that game. We didn’t have enough runs in the first innings, which is probably why we lost the match. Again this tells you that the toss is not going to matter at all in this series. You have to bring your best skills, play your best cricket and win games.”

It may be a coincidence that the team batting later has won all three Tests. But control data from ESPNcricinfo suggests that it might be easier batting later than batting first through this series.

Batting has been challenging in all four innings of Test matches, but it can be slightly more challenging in the first innings and third, where batsmen have achieved a control percentage of around 79 and 78, respectively, compared to the second and fourth innings, where They’ve moved on to 82 and 81.

We can now ignore the 4th innings figures, as the two runs have been small targets so far, and the intensity of the bowling has dropped as the chase nears. But does it matter that batting in the second innings has been roughly three per cent easier than in the first?

In Indore, it certainly felt like Australia’s spinners turned the ball quicker and quicker than their Indian counterparts on the first day morning. It may have had something to do with the amount of moisture that resided in the otherwise bone-dry pitch. In addition to aiding seam movement, the dampness can also help spinners – the seam grips the pitch a bit more, and the leather skids it more clearly.

In the days of open pitches, it was believed that the most dangerous time for batting was not when the pitch was wet, but when it was “drying” – when there was a layer of moisture just beneath the dry upper soil.

In Delhi, wickets fell in bunches in each of the three morning sessions, and the batting looked much easier after lunch. This again could be down to humidity, thanks to dew setting in the cooler periods of late evening and early morning, and overnight sweats under the covers.

There could definitely be something to the damping theory, with control percentages increasing from the first to the second innings in all three Tests. The Delhi weather may have contributed somewhat to the evening out, which gave both the bowling attacks a chance to capitalize during the morning’s three sessions.

But perhaps this is too theoretical, and we may be looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Rather than the teams winning because they are having the best positions, it may be the case that the control statistics only show which teams are in the ascendancy.

In a hypothetical environment where pitch and weather conditions are the same for both teams, the team that bowls better can cause more problems, resulting in a lower control percentage. If you are bowled out on Day 1’s total – as Australia were in Nagpur And India in Indore – your bowlers are more likely to bowl a good line and length and try too hard to take wickets rather than waiting for mistakes. Pat Cummins made a wayward debut in Nagpur, while R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja overpitched repeatedly on the first day in Indore.

It is also the case that teams with low first inning defenses tend to move to defensive zones earlier than usual. This can cause the strike to rotate more often, and errors in line and length, while bowlers adjust to a different batsman on strike.

It is possible that the teams batting later in this series will get a chance to bat in slightly less difficult conditions than the teams batting first. What is certain, however, is that the team batting second has started their first innings in an advantageous position in two out of three Tests. So it is difficult to say whether there is any real advantage of batting later. However, this is another highly thought-provoking topic raised by this intriguing series.

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