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Does the toss have an impact on the outcome of world cup games?

June 11, 2019 01:16 pm | Updated 02:22 pm IST

Virat Kohli tosses the coin ahead of India's World Cup game against Australia on Sunday.

Virat Kohli tosses the coin ahead of India's World Cup game against Australia on Sunday.

Tosses are considered important in cricket, as captains decide whether to bat or bowl first depending on the condition of the pitch. Overall, only 46% of the teams that won the toss went on to win the game across World Cups. While the toss did not always play a pivotal role in the outcome, it could have been a factor when the nature of the wicket changed during the course of the game.

image/svg+xmlHostYearMatchesChose to batfirst %Chose tochase %Won toss & match %Chose to bat,won match %Chose to chase,won matchEngland197515406046.75044.4England19791513.38033.3041.7England19832751.948.151.957.146.2India, Pakistan19872740.759.340.763.625Australia, New Zealand1992394153.85962.561.9India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka19963852.639.534.24033.3England19994233.361.940.535.746.2South Africa20035448.142.642.657.734.8Carribean20075133.364.747.147.148.5India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka20114971.424.544.948.641.7Australia2015495146.953.15252.2England201913#237746.153330.76

The table shows a few findings:

  • In the first two editions of the World Cup in England, bowling first was the popular choice. Choosing to chase a target was also popular in the 1987, 1992, 1999 and 2007 editions.  
  • Batting first was a popular choice in 1996, but it was in 2011 that taking first strike was almost the norm. Both these editions were played in Asian conditions.  
  • Winning the toss isn’t always a good thing. But in the 1983 and 2015 editions, winning the toss paid off a little more than 50% of the time. In 1979 and 1996, teams that won the toss went on to win barely one third of those games  
  • The 1992 edition, held in Australia and New Zealand, saw 59% of the games won by teams that won the toss. This is the highest of the 12 editions  
  • In 2019 so far, chasing has been the preferred choice. But teams have lost a higher percentage of games trying to chase a target

The second table below shows what world cup teams chose over the years when they won the toss. The findings based on the table are given below:


  • Australia has the highest percentage of win-toss-win-game situations. They have won 32 of the 46 matches (70%) where they won the toss.  
  • 63% of the time, Australia have chosen to bat first when they won the toss (29 out of 46). Pakistan (64.5% - 20 out of 31) and India (60.0% - 21 out of 35) are the two other strong win-toss-bat-first believers.  
  • New Zealand (63.4% - 26 out of 41), West Indies (66.7% - 20 out of 30) and Sri Lanka (61.1% - 22 out of 36) have preferred mostly to field first on winning the toss. The Kiwis have won 65% (17 off 26) of the matches where they chose to field.  
  • Pakistan have won only three of the 11 matches (27%) where they have chosen to field.

Data compiled by Richie Lionell, Gramener Inc.

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