Saturday, April 22, 2006

Batting failure

"Indian batting looks dodgy"...goes W.V.Raman in his Hindu article, commenting on the team composition chosen for ODI leg of WI tour. And we know he's not alone in calling the Indian top order 'inconsistent', or the entire lineup 'shaky', or 'riding on Dhoni and Pathan' all the time. And the fact? Well, simply this - Sehwag and Kaif are out of form (in varying degree). The rest have been as consistent as any others in other top teams. So when did Sehwag and Kaif (who don't even get to play all the games) become the 'entire' top order (or middle order, take your pick). Why generalize? Take a look at Raman's column in which, after declaring the Indian batting as dodgy, he goes into the details thus
Sehwag's return to form will give some sort of fillip to the side and, but for Dravid and Yuvraj, the middle order appears a bit vulnerable.
...
Suresh Raina and Venugopala Rao are just about getting a hang of international cricket and with Kaif not in form; it will be a big test for the Indian batting line up.
So, essentially, after that sweeping statement he virtually goes on to add that most others are in good touch. Since, ofcourse, we know that Dhoni and Pathan are in prime touch.

Anyway, going into that analysis a bit further, here's the average of Indian batting lineup (top 6) in past 20 games:

1) Sehwag: 32 Uthappa(2): 49

2) Sachin(14 since his return): 39 ( And if you think that's low consider these regular ODI openers - Aussie regulars, as declared for WC, Katich averages 42, Gilchrist 38, Smith 40, Shoaib 41)

3) Dravid: 50

4) Yuvraj: 69

5) Kaif(16): 10 Raina: 41

6) Dhoni: 57

And..surprise surprise...it seems averages of only Sehwag and Kaif affected despite the *entire* batting order (/ top order / entire lineup) being out of form.

And complied below is another bit of statistics, the average score made by top 5 batsmen of India (and some other top teams, for comparison) in the past 20 games. Yes that would include games where Dhoni or Pathan were sent up the order, but a hypothetical scenario of 'what would have happened if..' would be speculation.

And taking earlier games, in order to remove these from the calculation, would not serve the purpose because Indian team's good form started from home series against SL. No one is claiming that we were great(or even good) before the SL series and neither is this debate about that period, so no point visiting that phase, right?

Besides when they play in top five, they fall under legitimate batting order (or specialized batsmen) and should be judged thus...just like Afridi, Akmal, Clarke, Hussey, Boucher or many others around the world.

Finally, I know there are different playing conditions around the world (although they are becoming more and more similar throughout the world...e.g. more batting friendly conditions in SA, no 300+ scores in Indian series against England etc) but we can compare only what we have, and it is just to get an idea. After all, when I hear fans complaining of our 'batting failures' I think they have other teams' performances in mind...so this one's more for their benefit.

Average score made by top 5 batsmen (not first 5 wickets to fall) in last 20 games:

India: 45

Pakistan: 34

Aus: 43

SA: 33


So, let me ask you now - What batting failure?

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