India vs Pakistan: The statistical preview

March 28, 2011

An India versus Pakistan match on a big stage – and they don’t come too much bigger than a World Cup semi-final – has layers of subtext running through it. Quite apart from the historical baggage that comes with representing one of these teams against the other, the cricketing sub-texts too make for fascinating study.

The current match has quickly acquired a “Indian batsmen versus Pakistan bowlers” label. Given that batting is India’s strength and bowling Pakistan’s, this is hardly surprising. However, little analysis has followed the labelling. Which batsman, for example, should India or Pakistan be wary about if they get set? Which bowler is the most devastating for either side when he gets into a rhythm? Equally – whether they be batsmen or bowlers – just how devastating are they? Here are some numbers that might answer those questions.

Note: In the following analysis, numbers against the Top Teams are used. The Top Teams, put simply, are the eight quarter-finalists of the 2011 World Cup. For each player, the numbers are against the seven other top sides, ie: Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and India/Pakistan.

The analysis also leaves out players such as R Ashwin, Wahab Riaz, Abdur Rehman and Asad Shafiq because they haven’t played enough ODI matches and their stats get skewed in the absence of enough data.

The following two tables depict the Indian and Pakistan batsmen’s averages and strike rates – in their career, against the Top Teams, and against their semi-final opponent.

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Career Average Ave vs Top Teams Ave vs Pakistan Career St. Rate St. Rate vs Top Teams St. Rate vs Pakistan
Virender Sehwag 35.26 34.67 35.64 103.94 102.02 103.41
Sachin Tendulkar 45.13 43.52 39.16 86.36 85.29 87.70
Gautam Gambhir 40.29 36.20 34.85 86.58 86.35 87.76
Virat Kohli 45.47 42.83 17.00 82.71 80.94 66.66
Yuvraj Singh 37.69 36.65 48.11 87.59 85.68 92.94
MS Dhoni 48.23 45.38 54.22 87.39 85.95 95.87
Suresh Raina 35.22 32.19 37.00 89.80 87.55 95.79

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Career Average Ave vs Top Teams Ave vs India Career St. Rate St. Rate vs Top Teams St. Rate vs India
Kamran Akmal 27.66 26.91 22.47 84.27 82.93 85.26
Mohammad Hafeez 23.26 24.12 24.50 65.53 65.80 59.75
Younis Khan 32.29 29.31 40.96 75.05 71.76 86.67
Misbah ul Haq 40.60 40.47 47.71 78.74 77.29 107.74
Umar Akmal 36.30 34.07 10.50 84.22 82.43 77.77
Abdul Razzaq 30.11 29.00 24.96 81.54 80.58 94.97
Shahid Afridi 23.65 22.79 25.26 113.89 109.57 108.67

It is clearly evident that there is a large batting gulf between the two teams, with the Indian batsmen almost uniformly averaging higher than their Pakistan counterparts. Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan have the best numbers against India, and as they have done for much of the World Cup, they’ll have to hold the middle for Pakistan again.

Young guns Virat Kohli and Umar Akmal have poor stats against Pakistan and India respectively, but that is purely because they have played very few matches.

These stats can be explored deeper to see just who is it exactly among the batsmen who kick on to get a big score once they are set. The tricky part is judging when a batsman is actually set. For this analysis, the batters’ stats for innings in which they have scored at least 20 is taken. The short answer to why the figure is 20 runs – and not, say, 18 runs or 25 runs – is simply that it seemed a reasonable limit to set. If a batsman has reached a score of 20, he is well set. The stats for >20 scores are again taken only versus the top teams.

Along with how the batsmen perform when set, are their figures for the year 2011. This is to indicate recent form, and include all matches the batsman in question has played from January 1 2011 to date.

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Ave vs Top Teams St. Rate vs Top Teams Ave when >20 runs vs T.T. St. Rate when >20 runs vs T. T. % Inns >20 vs T. T. 2011 – Average 2011 – Strike Rate
Virender Sehwag 34.67 102.02 57.05 107.98 55.26% 57.00 120.84
Sachin Tendulkar 43.52 85.29 71.39 90.15 58.68% 45.55 91.11
Gautam Gambhir 36.20 86.35 65.23 92.17 52.69% 38.42 87.33
Virat Kohli 42.83 80.94 65.54 83.01 63.41% 43.10 83.52
Yuvraj Singh 36.65 85.68 67.00 91.20 52.86% 54.00 81.81
MS Dhoni 45.38 85.95 68.86 90.47 63.70% 22.22 66.66
Suresh Raina 32.19 87.55 56.47 93.12 52.87% 24.83 84.18

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Ave vs Top Teams St. Rate vs Top Teams Ave when >20 runs vs T.T. St. Rate when >20 runs vs T. T. % Inns >20 vs T. T. 2011 – Average 2011 – Strike Rate
Kamran Akmal 26.91 82.93 54.16 92.63 43.69% 32.80 75.22
Mohammad Hafeez 24.12 65.80 46.08 74.90 44.07% 30.72 78.97
Younis Khan 29.31 71.76 54.47 79.00 46.82% 28.70 71.92
Misbah ul Haq 40.47 77.29 63.61 81.86 66.67% 56.42 72.21
Umar Akmal 34.07 82.43 54.13 88.16 58.06% 33.88 87.39
Abdul Razzaq 29.00 80.58 62.89 92.94 43.88% 19.85 90.84
Shahid Afridi 22.79 109.57 45.81 122.47 39.68% 19.72 134.78

The above tables make for interesting reading. As he usually does when any sort of Batting numbers are looked at, Sachin Tendulkar leads the charge here too. He has averaged over 70 once he has crossed 20 against the top teams – the only man to do so in the list above. What is interesting though, is that the differences between the two teams’ batsmen don’t appear as magnified when the >20 scores are looked at. This suggests that once the Pakistan batsmen are set, they can come closer to matching the Indians even if they [the Indians] are also set. However, they are still behind, and among the key columns in the tables above is the one that shows, in percentage, the number of innings for each batsman in which he has crossed 20.

On an average, the Indians cross 20 a lot more than their Pakistan counterparts. What this means is that the Indian batsmen have a greater likelihood of going on to get big scores, simply because they ‘get their eye in’ a lot more often. This is where the difference in batting strengths in the two sides is visible: once set, both sets of batsmen do go on to cause damage, but the Indians get set a lot more often than the Pakistanis do.

For the respective bowlers from both sides, the initial tables with career, top teams and opponent stats, are depicted below.

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Career Ave Ave vs Top Teams Ave vs Pakistan Career Econ Rate Econ Rate vs Top Teams Econ Rate vs Pakistan
Zaheer Khan 28.83 32.94 41.76 4.89 5.07 5.63
Harbhajan Singh 33.53 34.3 63.16 4.31 4.39 4.92
Munaf Patel 29.75 30.76 NA 4.89 4.97 NA
Yuvraj Singh 37.65 39.51 32.00 5.03 5.08 5.58
S Sreesanth 32.74 31.88 36.81 6.06 6.05 5.41
Ashish Nehra 31.92 31.42 31.29 5.21 5.37 6.15

Pakistantable.tableizer-table {font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;width:100%}.tableizer-table td {text-align:center; padding-left: 4px; margin: 3px;border-bottom: 1px solid #CCC;}.tableizer-table th {text-align:center; background-color: #7E2217; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;padding-left:4px;}.tableizer-table th:first-child, td:first-child{text-align:left;}

Career Ave Ave vs Top Teams Ave vs India Career Econ Rate Econ Rate vs Top Teams Econ Rate vs India
Umar Gul 26.03 28.52 42.15 5.02 5.31 5.87
Shoaib Akhtar 24.97 25.70 26.78 4.76 4.91 4.59
Abdul Razzaq 31.79 34.07 39.45 4.70 4.75 5.03
Shahid Afridi 33.76 38.32 55.50 4.61 4.73 5.01
Saeed Ajmal 29.61 30.50 22.33 4.36 4.43 4.64
Mohammad Hafeez 33.69 37.2 57.00 4.43 4.43 6.90

This almost reads like an inverse of the batting table. The Pakistan bowlers have, on an average, comfortably out-performed their Indian brethren. The next two tables throw further light on the bowlers. In the same way as scores above 20 were taken for a batsman, for bowlers, their figures when taking 2 or more wickets have been considered. One can safely say, that in most cases where a bowler has picked up 2 or more wickets in an ODI, he would have bowled well on the whole and found good rhythm. Again, similarly to the batsmen, each bowler’s 2011 figures are also provided to give an idea of current form. The relevant tables are:

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Ave vs Top Teams E. Rate vs Top Teams Ave vs T.T. when >2 wkts E. Rate vs T.T. when >2wkts % Inns >2 wkts vs T.T. 2011 – Average 2011 – Economy Rate
Zaheer Khan 32.94 5.07 17.74 4.77 39.46% 19.30 4.64
Harbhajan Singh 34.30 4.39 15.19 4.02 31.67% 50.20 4.40
Munaf Patel 30.76 4.97 16.42 4.83 39.22% 23.90 5.44
Yuvraj Singh 39.51 5.08 15.62 4.43 16.13% 25.93 4.94
S Sreesanth 31.88 6.05 16.60 5.63 41.30% NA 10.60
Ashish Nehra 31.42 5.37 16.18 4.96 42.00% 65.25 6.57

Pakistantable.tableizer-table {font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;width:100%}.tableizer-table td {text-align:center; padding-left: 4px; margin: 3px;border-bottom: 1px solid #CCC;}.tableizer-table th {text-align:center; background-color: #7E2217; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;padding-left:4px;}.tableizer-table th:first-child, td:first-child{text-align:left;}

Ave vs Top Teams E. Rate vs Top Teams Ave vs T.T. when >2 wkts E. Rate vs T.T. when >2wkts % Inns >2 wkts vs T.T. 2011 – Average 2011 – Economy Rate
Umar Gul 28.52 5.31 15.16 4.85 43.94% 20.66 4.35
Shoaib Akhtar 25.70 4.91 14.26 4.44 47.01% 47.80 5.55
Abdul Razzaq 34.07 4.75 15.14 4.50 26.76% 31.75 4.09
Shahid Afridi 38.32 4.73 14.96 4.25 26.25% 17.00 4.01
Saeed Ajmal 30.50 4.43 15.59 4.17 45.71% 16.33 3.06
Mohammad Hafeez 37.20 4.43 19.54 4.83 18.87% 27.27 4.00

Zaheer Khan’s recent form for India augurs extremely well, since when he is on song, his figures make for impressive reading. Even more impressive than that are Harbhajan Singh’s figures when he has picked up a wicket. It’s often said that Harbhajan is a different bowler when he has wickets, and the proof is in the table above. However, the worrying part is Harbhajan’s rate of picking up 2 or more wickets. He has done so in less than a third of the times he has gone up to bowl. And his current form does not inspire too much confidence that he will strike-wicket taking mode against Pakistan, with a 50-plus average in 2011. His economy rate has been superb, but for India to win, they need Harbhajan to re-discover the wicket-taker in him. The stats and recent form also point to Munaf continuing to partner Zaheer. Sreesanth is out of favour and doesn’t have the stats to back his case, while Nehra’s recent form has been rather low.

In Pakistan’s case, there is a fascinating study in contrasts between Umar Gul and Shoaib Akhtar. Over a career-wide length, Akhtar has been more impressive, but when recent form is taken into account he has been fairly ordinary, while Gul has been exceptional. However, it would be naive to discount Akhtar. History suggest that he has taken 2 wickets or more roughly half the time he has come to bowl, and when he has hit his stride, he’s been an unquestioned match-winner. Perhaps it’s time Shahid Afridi gave him the license to go full tilt one final time.

Pakistan would also do well to include Saeed Ajmal. Reports suggest, the track at Mohali is to be a batting-friendly one. In that case, it is better to go in with an Ajmal who has a better chance of taking wickets than someone like Abdur Rehman. Ajmal’s economy rate has also been good, and with Hafeez too filing in admirably, Ajmal deserves to be in the team.

So what should the teams plan on? For India, the bowlers have to get Misbah ul Haq and Umar Akmal early. They have the best rate of getting starts for Pakistan, and both have performed very well once set. Recent form-wise too, they are Pakistan’s best batsmen.

The stats bear out that Pakistan’s best bet while batting is to limit the damage by Zaheer and take chances against the rest of the Indian attack. While bowling, it will be to ensure that Yuvraj Singh doesn’t get off to a start. Curiously enough, Pakistan need to worry more about Yuvraj than Sehwag as a batsman. Given Sehwag’s style of play, his starts often don’t convert to huge scores, which is why he has the secondn lowest average in the 20-plus scores among the Indians. However, Yuvraj makes his starts count and has been in prime form lately – a lethal combo. Gautam Gambhir is similar in this respect, with the only difference being he hasn’t been in the form Yuvraj has been in, during this year. And then of course, there is Sachin Tendulkar. If he gets set, he can play the perfect guiding role for India, since he is likely to bat a lot longer than anyone else while not letting his strike-rate suffer.

One Comment to “India vs Pakistan: The statistical preview”

  1. kashif
    March 28th, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    While talking to the media, Imran Khan said that the semi-final match between India and Pakistan is bigger than the final of the World Cup. The sight at the stadium will be very emotional as an old rivalry will be awakened.

    Imran Khan has predicted that that Pakistan will play Sri Lanka in the in the final of the World Cup. He also dismissed Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement that they will keep a close eye on match fixing. Imran Khan added that no one can think of fixing the match between Pakistan and India.

    On the other hand, former Indian Captain Kapil Dev said that the Pakistani Squad will be performing at their best under the leadership of Shahid Afridi.
    http://dunyanews.tv/index.php?key=Q2F0SUQ9NCNOaWQ9MjI5MzI=

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