ICC World Cup 2019: Match 1, England vs South Africa – The move of starting with a spinner

ICC World Cup 2019: Match 1, England vs South Africa – The move of starting with a spinner

Imran Tahir bowled the first over of an inning for the first time in his ODI career.

Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir. (Photo by Andy Kearns/Getty Images)

World Cup 2019 kicked off with the hosts defeating the South Africans by a 104-run margin at the Kennington Oval with collective team performance. One of the early talking points of the game was South Africa starting with Imran Tahir. The Saffers thus broke the tradition of beginning the World Cup by bowling with a pacer. All the previous 11 editions of the CWC witnessed the first over bowled by a fast bowler only.

This was also the first time Imran Tahir bowled the first over of an ODI inning. He bowled the 2nd over of an ODI game on two instances but never the first. However, this move helped the visitors strike early as Jonny Bairstow was caught behind on the 2nd ball of the over bowled by leg-spinner.

Backing the history

Bowling Imran Tahir at Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow was a straight forward move considering the history of the openers. Bairstow, who had a rich success in his debut IPL season, was dismissed by leg-spinners in each of his first five matches in the tournament. Roy too struggles against the googlies trying to play across. In fact, Tahir wasn’t the only threat for Roy in this game. The 28-year-old has a miserable record against the Saffers scoring only 109 runs in 8 innings previously.

Jason got out for a single digit in each of his previous five ODI innings against South Africa. He was dismissed by Kagiso Rabada in three of those innings. During the 2016 ODI hosted by Cape Town, AB de Villiers gave the ball to Tahir as early as 5th over. It was the first time Tahir bowled as 3rd change or early in an ODI. He ended the over by trapping the opener in front and completed his job.

Given Roy’s poor record against Rabada, one would have thought what might happen had Faf du Plessis handed the ball to his premier pacer instead of Lungi Ngidi. Rabada dismissed Roy three times in 50 deliveries and conceded only 32 runs in ODIs before this game. Ngidi bowled short on off stump and length balls on middle and leg to Roy when there was a bit of movement. Rabada was brought in during the 7th over and found no help from the pitch or off the ball.