NOT too long ago, the trend was to bat first in semifinals and finals because the pressure of having runs on the board in a crunch game was seen as a massive advantage.
It was like having an extra 30 or 40 runs on the board because quick wickets and escalating required run-rates would more often than not see sides capitulating under intense pressure.
But there seems to be a definite shift in decision- making these days in day matches, as more and more teams winning the toss are opting to chase rather than set a target.
Take Sunday’s Franchise 1-Day Cup semifinal between the Chevrolet Warriors and Knights in Bloemfontein as an example.
Warriors captain Colin Ingram called correctly and had no hesitation in bowling first. The result was the Knights had first strike and set 280, with the Warriors cruising home with an over to spare.
It seems teams are confident of chasing down any target of around 300 of less, providing the game is not being played under lights.
A number of big scores have been chased down this season.
In a match played at Centurion, the Dolphins put the Titans in and the home side rattled up 315 for six. The Dolphins won by six wickets with an over to spare.
In Benoni, the Titans were again on the losing side after batting first and making an imposing 291 for seven, albeit that the Cobras only won by a wicket.
Then the Cobras chased down the Knights’ 274 with two overs and five wickets to spare.
The Titans managed to get it right against the Warriors when they overhauled the Eastern Cape franchise’s 294 with eight balls to spare last week.
One of the positives since the advent of T20 cricket is that both test cricket and 50-overs now have faster scoring rates. Yes, T20 cricket has eaten into test schedules, but it has helped teams become more positive when it comes to the rate of scoring. One-day matches are producing some impressive scores.
But, being a day-night match, Friday’s final between the Cobras and Warriors is unlikely to be a high-scoring affair due to the nature of the pitch. One thing is certain though, you want to buck the growing trend and bat first at Newlands. The Warriors will be facing some serious opposition, and they do not want to be batting second under lights.