Bengaluru, June 7: Ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, it was often said that the tournament would be a battle between the batsmen themselves and not the usual batsmen vs the bowlers contest.
Going by the recent West Indies-England and England-Pakistan limited-over series and the Indian Premier League that ended last month, the batters' authority seemed unquestionable.
But when the World Cup proper started, all the pre-tournament predictions seem to have gone for a toss, at least in the first one week.
Ten matches have been completed in the World Cup as on June 6 and only five 300-plus totals have been registered so far. Three centuries have been made, two of which went down the drain while one was for a winning cause. And the most interesting part is that it is pace bowlers, who are calling the shots at the moment.
In the top 10 wicket-taking bowlers (in terms of run conceded) at the moment, eight are fast bowlers and that speaks highly about the breed who were not expexcted to do well in the tournament, even before the first ball was bowled.
The last time a spinner had ended up as the highest wicket-taker in a World Cup was in 1996 when India's Anil Kumble took 15 scalps. The following editions have all seen pacers - mostly left-arm ones - dominating the World Cup. New Zealand Geoff Allott was the joint top wicket-taker in 1999 along with Australia's Shane Warne; Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas in 2003; India's Zaheer Khan in 2011 and Australian Mitchell Starc and Kiwi Trent Boult in 2015. Glenn McGrath was the only right-arm pacer to have got the maximum scalps in the 2007 World Cup. The only slow bowler to have featured among the top hunters was Pakistan's Shahid Afridi in the 2011 edition.
In the 2019 edition, again a New Zealander in Matt Henry is leading the list at the moment with seven wickets from two games. Starc, who took a fifer against the West Indies on Thursday, is the joint second in the list at the moment with six scalps, along with West Indian youngster Oshane Thomas.
Australia's Pat Cummins and Pakistan's Mohammad Amir who hit form in the World Cup after a prolonged dry patch have five wickets each while Sri Lankan Nuwan Pradeep, New Zealander Lockie Ferguson, who is generating some serious pace this tournament, and Caribbean Andre Russell, have four each.
The only two spinners in the top 10 are Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi and India's Yuzvendra Chahal who also have four wickets.
Seven other bowlers also have four wickets so far and of them four are pacers - South Africa's Andile Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada; West Indies' Jason Holder and Bangladesh's Mohammad Saifuddin.