India and Australia: Numbers since Jan 08

December 24, 2011

The latest millennium has unleashed a new-found rivalry between India and Australia and it will be no different as India get set to play their first series on Australian soil in four years. There have been a few changes in both sides since they last played against each other Down Under in 2007-08.

As far as India is concerned, it is not a case of changes being in profusion with as many seven players still forming the core of the squad. The batting unit is still in the safe hands of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman while Virender Sehwag has the crucial role to play at the top of the order. MS Dhoni, who was the wicket-keeper under the leadership of Anil Kumble in 2007-08, has turned out to be one of the finest Indian skippers. However, after India’s disastrous outing in England earlier this year, his captaincy skills will be under test. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, who were part of the pace attack then, are still around although there is the air of mystery surrounding their level of fitness. The notable exclusions from that squad are Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh while young legs like Virat Kohli and R Ashwin will look to make a mark in their maiden Aussie tour.

The current Australian squad, on the other hand, is made up of a bunch of unseasoned players with only Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey being the ones from the team that played against India four years back. Legends such as Shane Warne, Glen McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist retired at about the same time, taking quite a heavy toll on the Australian team. While the new look team by no means is lacking in talent, it has not been able to metamorphose into the kind of dominating force Aussies once were.

Considering the period since the fourth Test ended at Adelaide on 28 January 2008, India’s performance in the five-day format has been pretty decent. Out of the 43 games played in that period, India have won 19 while 14 matches were draws. They ended up on the losing side 10 times. Taking series into consideration, India have played 15 series in the aforementioned period out of which 9 have been victories for them while two series went in favour of the opposition team – Sri Lanka in July-Aug 2008 and England in July-Aug 2011. While managing to win more abroad during this period, India have stayed unconquered at home.

Australia too have somewhat similar numbers to India in terms of matches played and won since 28 January 2008. Out of 44 Tests, 20 have been victories for the team from Down Under. However, they have lost quite a few matches as well – the number being 15 while nine were draws. The number of matches lost, most times than not, has an effect on the outcome of the series and this has been the case with the Aussies. They have lost 4 of the 15 series played and have won 7. What is more worrying for the Australian side is that two series losses came at home while a supposedly weak New Zealand team managed to square the series against the Aussies in their own backyard.

India and Australia since 29 January 2008:

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Team Matches at home Won Lost Draw Matches abroad Won Lost Draw
India 22 12 2 8 21 7 8 6
Australia 18 10 6 2 24 9 8 7

There is no doubt that the Indian batting order comprising of Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman, is a far superior one as compared to the Aussies. Taking the same period (29 January 2008 to current) into account, the table below clearly suggests that their run-amassing exploits is not just limited to the matches at home. While the table also suggests that there is a dip in their batting averages while playing abroad, it is not a drastic slide that would worry the team.

Indian batsmen since 29 January 2008:

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Name Matches at home Runs Average 100s 50s Matches abroad Runs Average 100s 50s
Virender Sehwag 22 2369 64.02 6 12 16 1170 41.78 3 5
Sachin Tendulkar 20 1709 58.93 6 8 18 1692 56.40 6 6
Rahul Dravid 20 1646 53.09 7 5 21 1528 43.65 5 6
Gautam Gambhir 16 1531 56.7 5 7 14 1308 50.30 3 8
VVS Laxman 20 1482 64.43 3 10 20 1486 46.43 2 13

In the same period, the Australian batters’ performance – both home and abroad – cannot be spoken of all that greatly. The Aussie batsman who averages more than fifty both at home or while touring is Simon Katich but sadly, he’s no longer in Australia’s scheme of things. The Aussie skipper hasn’t done all that badly at home, averaging more than fifty, but he will be ruing the absence of Shane Watson in the Boxing Day Test while hoping that the combo of Ed Cowan and David Warner come up with a useful start.

Australian batsmen since 29 January 2008:

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Name Matches at home Runs Average 100s 50s Matches abroad Runs Average 100s 50s
Michael Clarke 18 1418 50.64 4 6 23 1682 44.26 7 6
Mike Hussey 18 1285 44.31 3 7 24 1654 38.46 4 10
Brad Haddin 18 1177 43.59 2 7 21 994 30.12 1 3
Ricky Ponting 17 1111 38.31 2 8 23 1671 39.58 3 10
Simon Katich 12 1071 51.00 2 8 19 1670 50.60 6 7
Shane Watson 12 1050 50.00 1 8 15 940 34.81 1 8

Being able to dismiss the opposition twice in a Test match is imperative for any side that aspires to be successful in Test cricket. The Indians have been able to stay unbeaten at home and have managed to clinch victories abroad due to the same reason. But injuries to the bowlers, especially the pacers can hamper a side’s progress and despite injuries being part and parcel of cricket, an overkill of the game in the recent times has meant that India has missed the services of a spearhead in crucial times. A look at the below table clearly shows that the Indians, whether at home or overseas, have had a sore experience with bowlers not being able to perform to their optimum due to injuries which invariably affects their form.

Indian bowlers since 29 January 2008:

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Player Matches Innings Wickets BBI BBM Ave SR 5-wkt hauls 10-wkt hauls
Harbhajan Singh 35 63 150 7/120 10/153 33.63 70.9 5 1
Ishant Sharma 36 63 116 6/55 10/108 34.81 61.7 2 1
Zaheer Khan 26 46 103 7/87 10/149 28.77 52.6 5 1
Pragyan Ojha 14 28 62 6/47 7/109 34.62 74.2 2 0
Amit Mishra 13 22 43 5/71 7/106 43.30 81.3 1 0
S Sreesanth 16 28 41 5/75 6/122 48.09 73.9 2 0

So threatening was an Australian attack some years back that if a McGrath or Jason Gillespie couldn’t deliver then there was always a Warne or Brett Lee to count upon. Sadly, Australia no longer possess such a quality attack. To add to the woes, Australia have been unable to find a balance in the bowling department again thanks to injuries.

Australian bowlers since 29 January 2008:

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Name Matches Innings Wickets BBI BBM Ave SR 5-wkt hauls 10-wkt hauls
MG Johnson 41 77 166 8/61 11/159 31.17 55.2 7 2
PM Siddle 27 48 91 6/54 8/113 31.65 62.3 4 0
NM Hauritz 16 31 58 5/53 6/126 36.22 69.6 2 0
BW Hilfenhaus 17 30 55 4/57 5/70 34.65 68.7 0 0
SR Watson 29 45 54 6/33 6/51 26.77 55.1 3 0
DE Bollinger 12 23 50 5/28 8/141 25.92 48.0 2 0

It is a battle between the young and inexperienced Aussie bowlers versus an ageing, but vastly experienced Indian batting. The winner of that contest will in all probability win the series. All said and done, Australia v India has been the marquee series for the last decade or so. Every series between the two sides in the last 10 years has produced some magical cricket. This series holds a special significance for it signals the end of India’s golden generation (Sachin, Dravid and Laxman). Will they leave one final everlasting impact? The whole world will be definitely hoping they do. It is Australia v India again. Bring it on!

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