Myth busters: Win the toss and bat first in big matches
England (Source: AP Newsroom)
The T20 World Cup 2022 has just come to an end with England crowned the champions. In the final, England fielded first and restricted the opposition to a mere 137 runs. While chasing the target they chased it down in 19 overs losing only 5 wickets.
Buttler's decision to field first in a big match like the final was contrary to the popular saying in cricket- "Win the toss and bat first". This saying has gained popularity because the orthodox section believes that in big and pressure matches like the knock outs, batting second leads to more pressure. The scorecard pressure might toy with the psychology of the team batting second in the match and hence they might fail to hold on to their nerves.
But the stats of the ICC tournament knock out matches in the last few ICC tournaments state otherwise. Let us, take a look at the tournaments in the last 15 years.
Result of ICC tournament finals
If we see in last 11 ICC tournaments, 8 finals have been won by the team chasing the target.
Out of these 11 tournaments, 5 were of the 50 Overs format. In these 5 finals, 3 have been won by the team chasing.
In the other 6 tournaments, which have been played in the shortest format of the game, 5 have been won by the team batting second.
These stats point to the fact that the teams chasing in a pressure match have won more in the last 15 years, especially in the T20I format.
Let us take a deeper look into the stats and see what happens in the knock out stages of these tournaments.
Knockout results of the ICC tournaments in last 15 years
So, in the last 11 tournaments, out of 33 matches in semi-finals and finals 21 have been won by the team batting second. This points to the fact that now a days teams winning the toss look to field first.
With Cricket evolving as a game after the advent of T20 format, the propensity of teams to chase targets in pressure matches has increased. The age old saying of setting up a target in pressure matches is changing gradually and this myth has been busted to a great extent in the last 11 years.