Tag Archives: Test Cricket

Virat Kohli’s 2016 in perspective – some numbers

We all know what a 2016 Virat Kohli has had, in Tests.
3 Double tons in 3 back to back series, averaging 76 with the bat in 18 innings batted.

Virat Kohli - 3 Double Hundreds in a calendar year!

Virat Kohli – 3 Double Hundreds in a calendar year!

I was curious to see where this performance stands in the History of Test Cricket, in terms of sheer amount of runs, Batting average and a few other numbers.

Some observations follow:

Virat Kohli’s 2016 is at #50 in terms of Runs scored in a Calendar year by a player, with 1215 runs amassed in 18 innings.

Mohammad Yousuf’s 2006 tops the list with a staggering 1788 Test runs amassed in 19 innings at an average of 99.33. Bradmanesque? Whoah!

Sachin Tendulkar’s 2010 is #5 in the list with 1562 runs at 78.10. Sachin is the only Indian who has scored more than 1500 Test runs in a calendar year.

Maximum runs in a Calendar Year! Mohammad Yousuf's 2006 is Bradmanesque

Maximum runs in a Calendar Year! Mohammad Yousuf’s 2006 is Bradmanesque

In terms of Batting Averages in a Calendar Year, Virat Kohli’s 2016 is at #20. Sir Gary Sobers averaged 144 in 1958, the year which saw him score the iconic 365*. Sunil Gavaskar’s 1978 was phenomenal too, with Sunny bhai averaging 92 in the year he toured West Indies having to face the fearsome foursome.

Only 3 batsmen have had years where their batting average was above 100

Only 3 batsmen have had years where their batting average was above 100

The English on average play 15-17 Test matches a year, much more than India, who play 12-14. No wonder we see Alastair Cook scoring 1000+ runs in 4 different calendar years. The record for most calendar years with 1000+ Test runs is currently held by Matthew Hayden. He has 5 of them. Sunny, Sachin, Dravid , Sehwag all have 3.

4 Indians have 3 Calendar years each where they have amassed 1000+ Test runs

4 Indians have 3 Calendar years each where they have amassed 1000+ Test runs

An interesting observation from the below graphic – Joe Root now in 2 consecutive years, has failed to convert 20 50s into 100s. In the last 2 years, he has 26 scores of 50+ (which is great) but ony 6 of them above 100.

Viru Pa had 13 50+ scores in 2010, a record he jointly holds with Joe Root

Viru Pa had 13 50+ scores in 2010, a record he jointly holds with Joe Root

Looking at all these numbers, there’s one more observation that crosses my mind. Look at the “Year” column. 90% of the years are post 2000. The records amassed in Test batting in the 70s, 80s and 90s are far and few. Does it indirectly indicate Test Cricket conditions off late have become more batsman-friendly? Or the quality of bowlers reduced? Or mere coincidence. There are always going to be 2 views.

Perhaps a look at a similar study on Yearly Bowling Stats can help!

Harbhajan “Sadist” Singh?!?

Make no mistake, I have high regards for Harbhajan Singh, who represented India at the highest level in Tests for more than 100  matches, something very few legends of the game have managed to do. Harbhajan was a match winner for us.

Off late, something I despise about him is the fact that he very outwardly hates the fact that Ravi Ashwin (a Legend in the making) is over-shadowing him in the Test format. His tweets are a reflection of the same. People who follow him closely on Twitter will have got that sense.

There were tweet praises from him for Kohli when he scored a double, Rahane when he scored a century. No word of appreciation for Ravi Ash when he star-performed throughout the series and also won the Man of the Series Award. Well, you might argue, one cannot infer any sense of sadism from these hints.

Well, he’s also been outspoken about how pitches currently are “tailor made for spin” and about how his and Anil Bhai’s records would have been “something else” had they played in this era.

Now I don’t expect such talk from someone who is a true sport at heart. Harbhajan clearly is not a true sport, though his tweets later after Ashwin cleared the air though his tweets, seemed to hint the same.

Well, my 2 cents for Harbhajan. You’ve made invaluable contribution to Indian Cricket through your long and celebrated career. Now it’s time for others to take the baton from you to keep the Indian flag flying high. Respect that.

Also, a small stat from the 5 Test matches that both Ashwin and Harbhajan played together.

Ashwin took 35 wickets (against Harbhajan’s 11).

Ashwin had an average of 21 (against Harbhajan’s 41).

Ashwin took 5 fifers and 2 10 Wicket hauls. Number of 5 and 10 wicket hauls that Harbhajan picked in the same matches – Well, Aryabhatta invented the number.

Thank you, Dhoni!

90 matches, 4876 runs, 294 dismissals, 6 hundreds, 33 fifties and 10 ducks

It’s hard to believe these numbers are never going to change.

With the sudden announcement of his retirement from Tests earlier today, Dhoni has taken the phrase “Expect the unexpected” to an all new level. As an unabashed Dhoni fan , it was extremely shocking and disheartening for me to hear the news, initially. Seeing Raina’s tweet (embedded below) with tears in Dhoni’s eyes after announcing his Test retirement was literally a “kanla thanni” moment for thousands of fans, like me.

All his heroics in Tests (only a handful, but still) began flashing in my eyes. As a batsman, his ruthless assault at Faisalabad (148, against Pakistan) and match winning 224 at Chepauk (against Australia) would stand out. And then there were the double century stands with VVS, and valuable 50s, 60s and 70s when he batted with the tail. Frankly though, he hasn’t left behind an irreplaceable void in terms of his batting, in Test Cricket.

MSD at his ferocious best - Faisalabad, 2006

MSD at his ferocious best – Faisalabad, 2006

He’ll however be remembered in Test History as the Captain who led India to World No. 1 Test Rankings. To captain a side that was built by Sourav and led by Dravid and Kumble was not an easy task. The nonchalant ease with which he took up the challenge and led India on its way to glory was commendable. In the process, he also became the most successful Test Captain for India, in a list that features greats like Dada and Dravid. That’s something he can feel extremely proud of.

MSD, the MSC (Most Successful Captain)

MSD, the MSC (Most Successful Captain)

To think of it, Dhoni could not have timed his retirement better. Virat Kohli seems to be in great form as a batsman and has shown good signs of captaincy (in Adelaide, aiming for a win). I am sure Dhoni’s decision to retire would have materialized only after he got the faith that he’s leaving Indian Test Cricket in safe hands. He wouldn’t have thought twice to carry on with captaincy had he not been sure about Virat’s capability to lead the side, even if that meant bearing the brunt of the media and fans, for another away series defeat. Selfless cricketer, he is.

Saw a few reactions on News channels that Dhoni has abandoned a sinking ship by retiring mid-series. Now let’s assume he carried on as Captain in Sydney and India drew/lost the match. He’d have had to face allegations of carrying on as Captain despite performing poorly “away”. Players like Dhoni are always caught between the devil and deep blue sea; they get criticized no matter what they do.

However, it was very heartening to see some good reactions too, appreciating his personal decision to retire from Tests.

 

Thank you, Dhoni, for everything you’ve done for India in Tests.
Looking forward to March 29 now.

One vs Two

When One and Two battle it out for glory, what results is an awesome exhibition of test cricket. As awesome as it can get.

I look back at some of the interesting moments of this epic test match between South Africa and India at Johannesburg (Dec 18-22, 2013).

I thought Kohli’s masterly century in the first innings set up the game nicely. To me, it was not merely an innings. Rather, it was a statement that marked his arrival at No. 4 for India; much like Sachin Tendulkar who made the most of his first chance to open for India in ODIs (he scored 82 off 49 balls against NZ). The way Kohli recuperated after inflicting the blunder of running out Pujara was phenomenal. Of course, he would look back at his 5 Test hundreds and think why he hasn’t really converted any of them (his highest being 119), unlike Pujara who already has four 150 plus scores (out of his 6 Test hundreds)

The highlight of SA’s first innings to me was Vernon Philander’s fluid 59 which drastically reduced SA’s first innings deficit. Never knew he could bat so well. He had the technique of a specialist batsman with the aggression that goes well with a tailender. Bowling all-rounders are always an asset to their sides.

With a mere lead of 36 when Murali Vijay came in to bat for India, second time, I thought he did a great job of seeing off the new ball. His cautious 39 off 94 balls might not be remembered 10 years down the line, but played a big role in the Test match. What followed after the fall of his wicket is a partnership that reassured the Indian fans that Indian cricket is in safe hands. A mammoth 222 run stand between Kohli and Pujara in the second innings of a test match at South Africa against the like of Steyn and Philander. Steyn apparently recorded one of his worst bowling figures in Test cricket.

With India having set a target of 458  for SA to chase in a little over 4 sessions, the match was heavily in favor of India. Over the last four sessions of the test match, SA were to prove to the world why they are deservedly the test champions. On a pitch that misbehaved once in every ten deliveries, negotiating the pace and swing of the Indian quicks and the bounce of Ashwin, SA batsmen, particularly Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers displayed world class batsmanship. With the way Faf and AB de went about things in the 2nd and most part of 3rd session of Day 5, SA will actually be disappointed they weren’t able to seal a World Record successful run chase.

In the end, “Test Cricket emerged the winner!”