Archive for December, 2013

A look at Dhoni’s overseas performance and the Indian tail

December 29, 2013

One of the common complaint against Dhoni from cricket fans in social media is that he has not performed well as a batsman outside the sub-continent. One might think that there might be a bit of truth in that because, he has not scored a single Test hundred outside the sub-continent. I tried to dig up some statistics.

Here is the record of wicket-keeper batsmen from the sub-continent who have played 10 or more Tests outside the sub-continent.

Sub-Continent wicket-keepers overseas

The highest batting average achieved by a wicket-keeper from the sub-continent outside of it is 37. Dhoni who averages a touch under 29 is about 25% off, but he is fourth on that list and Sangakkaara who is such a fine batsman averages less than Dhoni. ( Sangakkara has not kept wickets in all matches overseas. These stats only include those in which he did). What these stats indicate is that sub-continent wicket keepers have generally found it difficult overseas and by those standards Dhoni’s is by no means a poor performance. People are simply expecting too much from Dhoni after his stellar performances in ODIs.  Dhoni plays the short fast ball really well. He either takes it on his body or pulls without fear.His only problem is a full outswinging ball to which he has got out many times.

Here is also a look of the performances of keepers from outside the sub-continent in the sub-continent. This reveals a pretty much similar story except for Andy Flower and Matt Prior who have done exceptionally well in the sub-continent.

Wicket-keepers from Aus, Eng, NA, WI, SA  and Zim in the sub-continent

People generally take things for granted.  Many are praising Kallis that South Africa would need two people to replace him. When Dhoni goes India would need three men to do his job.

Another contributing thing to Dhoni’s low average might be the pathetic lower order India has got. In the last four years India’s No.9., 10 and 11 average less than 10 . This is the worst from any team including Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The Australian tail has done really well in this period and averages just under 20.  If one looks at the last five years, things improve slightly to over 10, but they are pretty much at the bottom of the list.

Batting performance of 9,10 and 11 over last 4 years

One might argue are five more runs more a tailend batman going to win you a game ?  If three tailenders  score five rune each ( on average ), that is 15 runs and the batsman at other end would get around 25 ( this is a fair assumption as a specialist/wicket-keeper batsman is expected to outscore tailenders). That is 40 runs for an innings and 80 for a match. That is more than 10% of the runs that get scored on average in a Test which is a huge.

On the contrary, an inept tail has put a lot of pressure on the lower middle order. At stages where the match is on a balance, a No.6 would like to play aggressively to put some pressure on the opposition, is hugely handicapped if he knows on the back of his mind that one wicket would fold the innings within 10 more runs. Some of the Indian tail play as if they don’t care and slog at everything (Zaheer Khan), some simply block everything and can’t get the ball of the square (Ishant Sharma) and some can;t even hold a bat properly (Pragyan Ojha).

Some would say the bowlers are there to take wickets and not score runs. I think most people would agree with me if I say that the Indian bowlers are not doing their primary job either. The Indian attack is perhaps better only to Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.Rahul Dravid mentioned this on commentary and his voice seemed so painful that I felt he had a lump in his throat. What has been really disappointing and surprising is that it has been like this for a while and nobody has taken the Indian bowlers to task and made them a bit more accountable.

India -South Africa First Test – yet another so near yet so far performance from India

December 23, 2013

In my last post I had expressed my opinion that the Indian batting was doing alright but the bowling was of great concern. I feel there was more evidence in the Test  match. India could only manage six South African wickets in the fourth innings and two of them were run-outs. One might think that the pitch was a bit docile, but it was anything but. There was inconsistent bounce, a few balls kicking up and a some keeping low.

The Indian bowlers should be disappointed that they could not target the “bad” areas in the pitch more consistently. They did very well in the first innings when the pitch was offering a lot of lateral movement, but lacked penetration when that died out in the second innings.

They would be happy that they escaped with a draw considering that one stage South Africa needed just 58 from 14 overs with AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis still at the crease.  The seamers really held their nerve and Rahane managed to score his second direct hit at a very critical moment to dismiss du Plessis.

Ashwin went wicketless . Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan managed just one each and Zaheer went for 4 runs an over, far from what is expected of the lead bowler.  One might say that the South African bowling also looked ineffective against Pujara and Kohli in the second innings. Only when India started pushing for some quick runs did wickets start to tumble. But South Africa did not have their best bowler from the first innings in the second,but India had their full attack.

A lot of questions were asked of the Indian batsmen before the tour.  Can they handle the pace and bounce on South African pitches ? Do they have the technique to keep out the good balls ? Do they have the judgement and patience to leave balls outside the off-stump ? I think it’s fair to say that they have answered most of these questions with a “yes”.

India may not have won the Test, but the team as well as the fans can get of lot of hopefor the futue  from the performance of the batsmen. They have shown that they  can compete in overseas conditions and oppositions will have to do more than just turning up to bowl them out twice.

 

 

India -SA ODI series 2013 – India’s bowling more worrying than batting

December 6, 2013

The Indian team was dished out a 141 run drubbing in the 1st ODI at the Wanderers. The bowling once again conceded more than 350 and the batting for once was not able to cover up and folded for 200 odd.

So which is more worrying ? The batsman playing and missing , top-edging and getting bundled out for 200 or bowlers giving away 350 on such a helpful pitch. I say the latter. During India’s innings I mainly looked at three batsmen Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli. I knew Dhoni would scratch around and Raina and Yuvraj are hopeless. What I saw from the former three was quite promising. They were largely comfortable leaving the bouncers. They were leaving certain balls on length. Also played some crisp shots when the opportunities arrived. All this suggested to me that if they were chasing a reasonable score in range of 250, they would have been a bit more watchful and they might not have folded like that.

Coming to the bowling, all Indian bowlers except Shami did not look even remotely threatening. Shami is a good yard quicker than the other Indian seamers and puts a lot into the ball .I got the true nature of the pitch in the over Shami bowled to Kallis. He made two balls lift off a length and dart away and Kallis was all at sea. He hit an improvised boundary but was out later in the over spooning a full out-swinger to cover, weight firmly on the backfoot. It was then I realised that the Indian team was in a lot more trouble than the score suggested. It was a 250 pitch and at that stage South Africa were on course for 325.

It was business as usual in the South African innings at the death. Mohit and Bhuvaneshwar dishing up length balls with the South Africans gleefully depositing them in the stands.  But what is greatly concerning is that on such a pitch the Indian seamers got carted around. It seems like the Indian seamers just do not put enough energy behind the deliveries to extract help from even these pitches. They were not able to get early break-throughs. If this is indeed the case, the Indian batsmen might have to contend with hours and hours in the field in addition to the hostile South African bowling.