Tag Archives: Shikhar Dhawan

Zimbabwe- India’s Achilles Heel In ODI’s?

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Kartik Kannan explores via stats and more why India has not been as successful as they should be in Zimbabwe. 

Picture This! South Africa and Australia have won 100% of their ODI’s played at Zimbabwe.  You’d expect the reigning ODI World Champions (India) record to be similar or close, under normal circumstances, but the truth is chillingly different. If one were to rank ODI sides based on their success percentage in Zimbabwe, India figures a poor 8th, with only Bangladesh and Kenya behind it, success ratio being only 57.14%. Over the last 21 years, India has played 21 games in Zimbabwe, losing 4 times to the host (Zimbabwe), twice to New Zealand, once each to Sri Lanka and West Indies. In the light of this statistic, whether the Indian selectors had made the right decision in selecting an inexperienced team to tour Zimbabwe? Statistics and History say no, while the Indian selectors affirm that infusing young blood would augur well for the future.

Table-1 shows how ODI sides have performed in Zimbabwe ever since Zimbabwe became a full member nation of the ICC.

Table-1 -Success % of ODI sides in matches played in Zimbabwean Soil

Played Won Lost NR Success Ratio Ranking
India in Zimbabwe 21 12 8 1 57.14 8
SL in Zimbabwe 23 18 4 1 78.26 4
Aus in Zimbabwe 7 7 0 0 100.00 1
England in Zimbabwe 17 12 4 1 70.59 5
WI in Zimbabawe 15 9 5 1 60.00 7
Pak in Zimbabwe 15 12 1 2 80.00 3
SA in Zimbabwe 8 8 0 0 100.00 1
Bangladesh in Zimbabwe 30 13 15 2 43.33 9
Kenya in Zimbabwe 13 3 8 2 23.08 10
NZ in Zimbabawe 16 10 5 1 62.50 6
Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe 154 46 97 11 29.87 Not Applicable

Digging further, the article aims to look at important factors that correlate with the Indian performances in Zimbabwe over the years, and aims to present the readers the Achilles heel that Zimbabwean soil has been for Indian cricket intermittently. Some of the important statistical cogs in India’s wheel on their Zimbabwean trips are as follows.

a) Contribution of the Top 5 Batsmen

One of the main reasons of India’s ascent in ODI’s in recent times, has been India’s batting and looking into 8 of their ODI defeats in Zimbabwe, 7 of them came when India’s top 5 batsmen have not scored enough runs. India has averaged around 228 in ODI’s on Zimbabwean soil, with the top 5 batsmen contributing 68.19% of the runs. Across all of their 21 matches, 7 of the 8 defeats in Zimbabwe have been a clear case of the top 5 batsmen’s failing to maintain an average of 68.19%, (with the contribution from the top 5 ranging from 15.28% to 64.18% in these games lost as shown in Table 2)

Table-2- Contribution % of the Top 5 batsmen when India has lost ODI’s in Zimbabwe

Game Total Runs Scored by India Top 5 Contribution % Match Result Opposition
2010-M1 285 64.56 India Lost Zimbabwe
2010-M4 268 64.18 India Lost Sri Lanka
2010-M3 194 45.36 India Lost Zimbabwe
2005-M5 276 75.72 India Lost New Zealand
2005-M1 164 15.85 India Lost New Zealand
2001-M5 274 28.47 India Lost West Indies
1998-M3 222 42.34 India Lost Zimbabwe
1997-M1 168 43.45 India Lost Zimbabwe

Excepting one occasion, whenever India’s been all out, India has lost all such matches. So it’s fair to say that once the Indian batting is into its tail, they have not managed to win any game in Zimbabwe since 1993.

When India wins, the average contribution of the top 5 have ranged between 72.94% and 98.35% -9 times out of 12, while India have still managed 3 wins despite the top order contribution having been lesser than the average of 68.19%, which underscores the importance of the number 6 and 7 slot. Table 3, analyses India’s win patterns in ODI’s on Zimbabwean soil, through the contribution of the top 5 batsmen.

Table-3- Contribution % of the Top 5 batsmen when India has won ODI’s in Zimbabwe

Match Links Total Runs Scored by India Top 5 Contribution % Match Result Opposition
2010-M2

243

98.35

India Won SL
2005-M4

255

58.04

India Won ZIM
2005-M3

279

81.36

India Won NZ
2005-M2

226

67.26

India Won ZIM
2003-WC

255

72.94

India Won ZIM
2001-M4

230

90.00

India Won WI
2001-M3

170

82.35

India Won WI
2001-M2

237

85.65

India Won ZIM
2001-M1

137

90.51

India Won ZIM
1998-M2

236

95.34

India Won ZIM
1998-M1

216

94.91

India Won ZIM
1992-M1

239

58.16

India Won ZIM

One interesting observation on Zimbabwean soil, was the success that Mohamamed Kaif,Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly have enjoyed on previous tours, which shows the importance of defence, technique  and flair in the top 5 batsmen, on a tour to Zimbabwe.

Table-4 Outstanding Performances by Indian Batsmen on Previous Tours to Zimbabwe

  Series Matches Runs Average S/R 50/100
Mohammed Kaif 2005 Triangular Series 5 277 92.33 71.2 2/1
Rohit Sharma 2010 Triangular Series 4 260 86.66 91.54 0/2
Sachin Tendulkar 2001 Triangular Series 5 282 141.00 82.45 2/1
Sachin Tendulkar 1998 Bi Lateral Tour 3 198 79 100.63 0/1
Saurav Ganguly 1998 Bi Lateral Tour 3 158 79 75.23 0/1

With the current team selected for Zimbabwe- Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, ,Virat Kohli,Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina vie for the top 5 slots, India need to find the right men for the job who contribute substantially. In recent times, at ODI’s away from home, India’s victory is largely proportional to their top 5 batsmen firing above the average ( contributing more than 68.19%), similar to Table 3, which augurs well for the side(captured in Table 5)

Table-5- India’s Top 5 and Top 7 Contribution in recent ODI matches away from Home

Match Link Runs Total Top 5 % Contribution Top 7 Contribution % Impact of Number 6 and 7 Opposition Result
2013-M1 331 75.83 92.75 16.92 South Africa WIN
2013-M2 236 96.19 96.19 0.00 West Indies WIN
2013-M3 102 97.06 97.06 0.00 Pakistan WIN
2013-M4 182 91.21 91.21 0.00 Sri Lanka WIN
2013-M5 129 69.77 95.35 25.58 England WIN
2013-M6 229 65.07 83.41 18.34 West Indies LOSS
2013-M7 187 44.39 88.24 43.85 Sri Lanka LOSS
2013-M8 311 74.92 84.24 9.32 West Indies WIN

b) The Importance of numbers 6 and 7

In Zimbabwe, India had hardly depended on numbers 6 and 7 to bail them out of crisis to win matches, except for 1 match, where India beat Zimbabwe in 2005. On occasions, when India has lost ODI’s in Zimbabwe, their numbers 6 and 7 have contributed between 25-50% of the total runs in 5 losses, but not enough to finish well.

In the last 8 ODI’s away from home, as listed in Table-5, India has relied heavily on its top 5 to win them matches, and when India’s top have scored below 70% of the total runs, India have seen their number  6 and 7, contribute substantially, but not enough to make India win. If for some reasons, India find its top order in trouble, India needs a strong number 6 and 7 to help India finish well. This is a specialized position and India will do well to test if Rahane or Rayudu can complement Ravindra Jadeja at this position, in the absence of India’s best finisher-MS Dhoni. It will be interesting to see how infusing inexperienced talent like Rayudu/Rahane in the middle order works, since India’s past attempts  in Zimbabwe, had not paid dividends. Youngsters like Samir Dighe, Reetinder Sodhi and JP Yadav have fallen by the wayside, after one flash in the pan performance, while other youngsters like Hemang Badani, Naman Ojha and Venugopala Rao had been miserable failures with the bat, in Zimbabwean conditions.

c) Pace or Spin?

India’s batsmen, have shown no preference for the pacers/seamers or spinners when it comes to forcing the runs with the run rate being constant at 4.90 against either of the types of bowlers, but have demonstrated a capacity to lose more wickets to pace with an average of 35.6 against pace, as against an average of 45.92 facing spin bowling. The upcoming Zimbabwe tour, being a bilateral series, will not have other established sides hurling down a swinging cricket ball at high pace, but will see medium pace bowlers from Zimbabwe in action. The Zimbabwean bowling, though performed well against New Zealand and Bangladesh, would need to maintain their line and length against a strong Indian batting line-up.

d) Indian Bowling

Indian bowlers have performed well in Zimbabwe, largely under the leadership of  Saurav Ganguly.  A lot of success was attributed to the fact that each time India played under Ganguly, the bowling unit was mature and managed to capture wickets. Whenever India had experimented with in-experienced bowlers on a Zimbabwean tour, India had performed badly, notably the 1997 tour and the 2010 tour. In Zimbabwe, India has heavily relied on pace than spin to bowl oppositions out. Indian Pacers have taken 89 wickets at an average of 28.85, while the spinners have toiled hard for little returns, taking 37 wickets at a rather high average of 44.76.

But one of the encouraging signs that India are seeing is that Spinners have outperformed pacers in their last tour to Zimbabwe in 2010, with 12 wickets to the 6 that the pacers took. The 2010 tour was India’s worst in terms of bowling, as India picked up only 21 wickets out of a possible 40. India’s pace department struggled for rhythm, with their 6 wickets coming at an average of 69 runs.(way above the average of 28.85 that Indian pacers have in Zimbabwe), as opposed to the 46.75 runs a wicket that the spinners conceded. On the 2010 tour, India experimented their bowling with Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Vinay Kumar and Pankaj Singh, all of whom came a cropper, largely due to collective inexperience.

The years 2001 and 2005, were the best tours India have had in Zimbabwe, when the Indian bowlers picked up 39 and 34 wickets out of a possible 50 wickets in 5 matches, while the worst tours  were 1997 and 2010, when they did not have a strong leader and had an inexperienced attack. India’s current team will miss the strength and leadership of MS Dhoni, as they deal with an interim captain and an inexperienced bowling attack.

India’s bowling arsenal this year for the Zimbabwe tour is very similar to the 1997 and 2010 tours, with no real leader of the bowling unit. India’s bowling unit sports a whole bunch of inexperienced bowlers in Shami Ahmed, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma and Pervez Rasool.  The bowling attack will largely rely on the experience that Ravindra Jadeja and Vinay Kumar bring to the table, apart from expecting the new comers to come good.

Table 6  analyses India’s bowling in Zimbabwe by series and by bowler types.

Table 6- Indian Bowling statistics for ODI’s in Zimbabwe by tours

  Matches Total Wickets Pacers Wickets Spinners Wickets Pacer Avg Spinner Average Pace Eco Rate Spin Eco Rate
2010 Tri Series 4 21 6 12 69 46.75 5.93 4.88
2005 Tri Series 5 39 28 8 25.21 42.5 5.00 4.86
2003 CWC 1 10 7 3 14.14 24 3.58 4.24
2001 Tri Series 5 34 28 4 26.10 74.75 4.16 4.53
1998 Bi Lateral Series 3 22 12 8 32.25 36.25 4.55 5.00
1997 Bi Lateral Series 2* 2 1 1 86 37 4.82 4.63
1992 Bi Lateral Series 1 10 7 1 20.71 57 4.01 4.38
Overall 21 138 89 37 28.85 44.76 4.64 4.77

*- While 2 matches were scheduled, only match is taken for computation as the second ODI in that series in 1997 was washed out without a ball being bowled.

Based on the current form, will India’s swagger help in mowing down Zimbabwe, or will India’s inexperience lynch them at their familiar Achilles heel? Many questions show up, as India prepare for their future, in the hope that they brush aside history.

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India Look Good To Lift Champions Trophy 2013

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By Ganesh Subramanian

Post IPL, there were apprehensions of India’s performance in a tournament as important as the Champions Trophy, given the constant travelling and playing associated with the IPL. At the end of Group B matches, with India cementing their place in the semi-finals, one can say that those apprehensions have been well and truly given a decent burial.

India’s young brigade have responded to the challenges in the tournament featuring the top 8 ODI sides with clinical demolition of three quality sides in the group stage and look good to add more victims to their list. Seaming conditions in England have always troubled the sides from the sub-continent and India has overcome that hurdle with consummate ease.

It’s difficult to rack our brains and try remembering a time when the top order has been so consistent. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, a new opening pair for India, have responded brilliantly so far and have been instrumental in India posting big totals batting first or professionally chasing down targets. In fact, it would be fair enough to say that opposition teams did not have the luxury of running through the Indian batting lineup beyond Dinesh Karthik.

Such is the remarkable maturity with which the top order has done the job. As always, there is a worry that the likes of Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja haven’t had much batting practice. But the fact is that these three have had some decent outing in the tournament so far including the warm-up matches and can be expected to step up to the plate when needed. All these have been achieved with an out-of-form Virat Kohli. It’s not too hard to imagine the bowlers’ plight once Kohli finds his own in the tournament.

Indian bowling, probably a trifle weak compared to its batting, has gone about its job quite efficiently despite not possessing some star bowlers like the other sides. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have ripped the heart of the opposition batting line-ups by slicing open the top order of opposition teams and spinners Jadeja and Ashwin have tightened the noose in the middle overs to ensure that the opposition challenge is snuffed out even before it got going.

The fielding looks tigerish with the likes of Jadeja, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik swooping down on opposition batsmen like a vulture onto its prey, cutting off singles, choking the run flow and also effecting runouts. Dhoni’s captaincy, as always, has been admirable. With attacking fields like slip, silly point and leg slip, Dhoni has never given a breather to the opposition. Dhoni has even found use for the slowest fielder in the team, Ashwin, by getting him the slip cordon.

After beating Pakistan, a first for India in the Champions Trophy, Dhoni looks all set to add another trophy to his cabinet. Time to bleed blue!

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No Ind Vs Pak Is A Dead Rubber

misbah dhoni

So if you thought that this India Vs Pakistan match is a dead rubber considering Pakistan is already out of the tournament and India are through to the semis, think again. This is the most fancied rivarly the game of cricket has had and no game could go without its shares of eye-balls, bigger than that of any other sport in the history of earth. 
Misbah-ul-Haq has already equated the game to the final, only echoing the millions of fans back in Pakistan who would forgive them to bow out even before the business stages of the tournament, if they manage to win this one, the one that the world is thinking to be a dead rubber. And no matter what the successful Indian skipper MS Dhoni says of the game, he knows that if loses this, there would be a certain faction in his own country who would not even take the Champions Trophy 2013 victory as consolation.
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The recent form goes to India but if you go a little back, just at the beginning of 2013, when Pakistan toured India for three ODI’s, they beat the hosts 2-1 and opened up many a holes in the famed Indian batting line-up. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have done fabulously well, having stitched two century opening stands at a run-rate of better than a run-a-ball but they would all know what Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan can do. The last time these bowlers breathed fire, India were struggling at 29/5 before Dhoni came and rescued them with a fighting 100, only to end in a losing cause.
India’s batting has done well but it can go all so wrong in case they lose a few early wickets because unlike the Australia attack, against which India came back pretty well in one of their practice games, this Pakistan bowling attack will not let them breathe easy. They will come back hard after every blow and Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal would do their best to continue the good job done by the new ball seam bowlers.
The problem for Pakistan would be their batting. None of their batsmen, except for Misbah, have raised the hands when in trouble and someone will have to raise his hand if they want to win the game today. India’s bowling on the other hand is known to be weaker of the two but the bowlers have done well as a group. India would except another day when the seamers would do well and the spinners support them as much as possible.
The pitch and weather conditions look similar to what we have seen in Birmingham. Its a good batting wicket which will turn slow as the day progresses. There are chances of rain but we all hope the rain gods stay away for the day.
Pakistan will still feel the pinch of the loss they suffered at Mohali in the World Cup 2011 semi-final. This is their chance of redemption, even if it would not take them any further in the tournament. For India though the win will be about winning against Pakistan and also making sure they carry the winning momentum into the semi-final stages.
Dancers hold India and Pakistan national flags before the start of play in the ICC World Twenty20 cricket final match in Johannesburg

Rampaging India Continue Their Bull Run!

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By Kartik Kannan

India continued their bull run in England with yet another convincing win in the ICC Champions trophy, trouncing West Indies by 8 wickets and 65 balls to spare. The Indian victory, was largely built around Ravindra Jadeja’s spin bowling and the batting of Shikhar Dhawan, both of whom have hit purple patches in 2013, for extended run of great form. Ravindra Jadeja put the brakes on the Caribbean juggernaut, by choking runs and claiming wickets with his fastish off spinners, while Shikhar Dhawan tore into the very attack that had Pakistan at sixes and sevens last week, that had Kemar Roach interestingly this time taking the brunt, giving away 47 of 6 overs. Shikhar Dhawan’s consecutive hundred, was built without a faux paux, in an aggressive counter attack that was largely built around the squares on both sides, including 10 fours and a six to bring up his hundred.

Put into bat, the West Indies found their mojo early on, with Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles being severe on Bhubhaneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav. With 2 boundaries over deep midwicket, and 2 trademark slaps over the bowler, Chris Gayle was slowly getting into ‘RCB’ mode, just when a short of length delivery from Kumar, crapming Gayle for room, lifted enough for Chris to make a meek cut  at the ball, only to have Ashwin cling on to sharp chance above his head.

Darren Bravo and Johnson Charles, then steadied the innings with a 78 run stand in 89 balls, with the pace being set by Johnson Charles, after an  lull in the early stages of the partnership where he preferred to play of the backfoot watchfully. Johnson exploded with 2 sixes over Long off and Deep Midwicket and managed to work his way around 3 boundaries behind the wicket through glances and late cuts. While he was batting, a stat that was beginning to hang like a Damocles sword over the Indian bowling, was that he had a 100% conversion to scoring a century, whenever he has crossed 50, but Ravindra Jadeja’s introduction changed all of that, when he trapped Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and Sarwan, all of whom fell pray to playing for the turn against fast non turning deliveries. While Charles and Samuels were out leg before, Sarwan, in an attempt to glance the ball, was caught down the leg side. 3 wickets in 14 balls, giving away 5 runs, Jadeja had West Indies on the backfoot.

Even as these wickets well, Darren Bravo, struggled to score runs, and his misery soon came to an end, when he came down the track in frustration to clear Ashwin, and tried checking his shot after being done in by the flight, and Dhoni stumped him to leave West Indies at 140/5 in the 34th over. Pollard and Dwayne Bravo steadied the innings by knocking the ball around, but their wickets at crucial junctures in the game, followed by a couple of tailenders falling left West Indies miserably positioned at  182/9 by the 46th over, for a side that was 100/1 in the 19th over.

They say ‘Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Man’ and Darren Sammy came into playing an aggressive cameo that made you wonder, how could the West Indies have possibly believed he wasn’t good enough for the first game. Sammy, who’s played a large part in the renaissance of the Carribean cricket from the nadirs of 2008/09, chose to announce why he belongs to this team, by putting up his hand up, to clean the mess when it mattered. A flat batted six over covers in between a six to Long off and Long On, just made mouths drop as he successfully managed strike with number  11 (Roach) to bludgeon 9 boundary hits(4 sixes) in a 15 ball exhibition, scoring 52 runs, helping West Indies put a respectable 233, which incidentally is how much South Africa set Pakistan the other day.

Given the way, chases have been funnily difficult, one wondered if India were to fall prey to choking while chasing a moderate target, but India came out with all guns blazing and smoked out the Caribbean pace attack. It was a lively chase that saw Indian openers strangely dominate square off the wicket, with no hits in the arc between covers and deep midwicket, with all of the 17 boundaries scored between Dhawan and Sharma. Virat Kohli, was unlucky to have missed out on the run feast, done in by a Narine special, bowled round the wicket, but Dinesh Karthik made merry of an attack that had by then given up to notch up a fifty, while allowing Dhawan to score his ton around the same time, leading India to a domineering 8 wicket victory, that pushed Pakistan out of the tournament.

[Originally Written for ESPNcricinfo]

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