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Why Pace Bowling Will Be Just as Important as Spin in the ODI World Cup?

Pace bowling has always played a crucial role in ODI cricket, and the ongoing  ODI World Cup in India is no exception. The vast majority of pitches on the subcontinent are flat and batter-friendly, which makes it difficult for spinners to take wickets.

In such conditions, pace bowlers are the ones who can make the difference. In the 2023 ODI World Cup, teams will need to have a well-balanced pace attack. This means having a mix of bowlers who can bowl different types of pace and have different strengths.

For example, a team might want to have a bowler who can bowl fast and straight, a bowler who can bowl swing, and a bowler who can bowl reverse swing.

When it comes to the Indian pitches, traditionally, spin bowling has been considered a vital element in ODIs due to its ability to control the run rate and take crucial wickets in the middle overs.

However, as we look ahead to the ODI World Cup in 2023, it's becoming increasingly evident that pace bowling will be just as important, if not more so. The top bookmakers in India have WC odds with them.

Here is how pace bowling will be equally important for every team on Indian pitches as spin bowling will be.

Conditions and Pitch Variety

The ODI World Cup is set to begin in the month of October in India and that also marks the beginning of winter in the Indian sub-continent. Indian grounds will have morning moisture and overcast conditions during the tournament which in turn will help the pace bowlers.

In the early hours of a cricket match, when the sun has yet to fully warm the pitch, moisture in the ground remains, creating an ideal environment for fast bowlers. The ball, aided by the dampness, can swing and seam more vigorously, making it exceedingly challenging for batsmen to negotiate. The moisture provides extra grip to the seam, enabling bowlers to extract lateral movement off the pitch.

Overcast conditions further amplify the fast bowlers' advantage. The absence of direct sunlight reduces the drying effect on the pitch, preserving its moisture content. The cloud cover also makes the atmosphere heavier, aiding in the swing and seam movement. Fast bowlers, armed with the new ball, can exploit these conditions to trouble the batsmen early in their innings.

A Change in Trend

In October 2011, ICC introduced a new rule in the white-ball cricket, to make things more interesting during the middle overs. The rule said that every inning will start with a new ball but if the ball should get older than 25 overs.

The rule made things difficult for the spin bowlers given that they primarily bowl in the middle overs. However, the reverse swing phenomena also lost some edge because of the same rule.

To tackle the situation, ICC, in 2015, introduced another rule where they removed the batting powerplay. The batting side lost the advantage of having an extra fielder inside the circle during the last 10 overs. Because of this new rule, things became more interesting for the pace bowlers during the death overs. 

ODIs in India Pace average Spin average
January 1, 2010 – July 4, 2015 37.68 35.79
July 5, 2015, and later 34.76 39.37


Now, any team travelling to India started backing their pace bowlers equally as they favoured spin bowlers. However, during the death overs, pace bowlers became the primary choice of any team. The same formula will be applied during the ODI World Cup for every team.

Teams like Australia, England, South Africa, and Pakistan, who have ferocious pace bowling attacks, will be dependent more on the pace bowlers during tough times than on spin bowlers.

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