May 17, 2014

The fascinating topics of maidens and innings progressions in T20Is

An analysis of scoring rates across over groups and maidens in T20Is

Rangana Herath's 5 for 3 - which included two maidens - against New Zealand in the recent World T20 is one of the greatest T20I bowling efforts © Getty Images

I will pose 11 questions as an introduction to this article that covers two fascinating areas of T20 matches, viz Over-groups and Maiden overs.

Which two bowlers bowled maidens to Chris Gayle?
What is the highest score in the first six overs?
Which bowlers have bowled the maximum number of maidens in their career?
Which match featured the quietest last-five overs in a completed T20 innings?
Who played out 24 dot balls spread across six maiden overs?
What has been the most even match?
Maidens to Brendon McCullum and Quinton de Kock: Are you kidding?
How many maidens have been bowled in the overs 18-20?
Which is the most topsy-turvy of all T20 matches?
Has any bowler bowled three maiden overs in his spell?
Has the middle-over group been as low-key as normally perceived?

By now the readers will have a clear idea of what I expect to cover in this article. So without much ado we will move on to the article. You will find answers for these and other equally intriguing questions in the article, which is both analytical and anecdotal. This is one of the most interesting articles I have done because of the varied types of insights that are being offered.

First, a brief comment on the innings exclusion criteria.

T20 Internationals #26 & #68 were abandoned (four innings).
There is no ball-by-ball data for #9 & #335 (four inns)
Since this is an article on Over groups, I have excluded all innings in which fewer than 30 balls were bowled. This is anyhow the minimum number of balls in an interrupted match to constitute a result.
#318: Both innings excluded (two innings).
#119, #160, #260, #273 & #290: Second innings excluded (five innings).
Thus a total 15 innings have been excluded. This leaves us with 785 innings.

A. Innings over group analysis

The over groups do exist, although there is no formal separation. Overs No. 1 to No. 6 form the first group. Let us call this the "Start over group". The second group can be defined as the overs No. 7 to No. 15. This can be called the "Consolidation over group". The last five overs form the "Finish over group". Some people might argue for 15-20 instead of 16-20, but I have observed that the real finish is normally planned for five overs, rather than six.

First, let me present a simple table that displays all relevant data relating to the three over groups. In the table, the over group is the unit of measure, so that we are able to compare the results directly. In the same table, the over-group data is taken to the next level, i.e. overs, so that a different perspective can be obtained.

I would like readers to recall my first article on T20, published a few weeks back. In that article I had worked on the same over-group concept. I had mentioned that one-third of the total ball resource is normally utilised in each of the three over-groups. At that time I did not have the ball-by-ball data and this was a reasonable assumption. I was projecting that the final score would be around three times the score at the end of sixth over and 150% of the score at the end of the 15th over. In this analysis let us see whether that postulate can be verified and how far off I was. I am quite sure that my estimates that the scoring rate would drop off drastically during the overs 7 and 15 will take a big hit.

A1. Summary of Innings: by Over Groups
Og-Desc Runs Wickets DotBalls OverGroup Overs
Number Runs/Og Wkts/Og DBs/Og Number Runs/Ov Wkts/Ov DBs/Ov
1: Overs 1-634437129113937784.743.91.6517.847077.320.27 3.0
2: Overs 7-1548327197414403756.463.92.6119.068057.100.29 2.1
3: Overs 16-20280991743 5727634.944.32.75 9.031768.850.55 1.8

First, a brief explanation of the number of over groups. The 785 has already been explained. Two of these over groups had five overs and the exact total works to 784.67. I went to this level of accuracy so that the averages will come out accurately. The average score in the first over group is 44 for 1.6 (I suggest that the readers get used to looking at wickets in decimals). This should open a few eyes. Nowadays if we see a score of 45 for 1, we think that the batting team is lagging behind. That does not seem to be the case. They are ahead on both measures. The key resource up to over No. 15 is the number of wickets that have fallen. It is possible that 42 for no loss is better than 50 for 1 which is better than 60 for 2. Almost half of the balls bowled in this over group are dot balls.

The average score in the second over group is 64 for 2.6. Certainly I am in for a surprise here. This is not necessarily the consolidation phase I had portrayed it to be. The scoring rate is almost the same and the number of wickets fallen has increased significantly. It is probably correct to say that scoring at six per over during the middle overs will certainly set the team back barring a peculiar situation of 80 for 2 in 6, to start with. What is the average score at the end of the 15th over? It is 108 for 4.3. It is certainly below our current perception of a good score. Teams are expected to be around 120 for 3/4 at this point. The dot balls drop slightly to just over a third.

The third phase is a tough phase to analyse. Many innings end during this phase. I have taken the trouble to get this done accurately. An average score of 44 for 2.7 leads to an average final score of 152 for 7. This seems fine and is acceptable because it also includes unsuccessful second-innings chases.

The average Runs-per-Over (RpO) for the three phases is 7.32, 7.10 and 8.85 respectively. This means my perception of the middle over group is off the mark. There is only 3% drop from the first over group. So I would say that a 30-40-30 split between the three over groups seems to be acceptable and realistic. Since the overs are split 30-45-25, this means only a slight lowering in the middle phase, to be made up in the third phase.

A2. Most even matches

In match No. 163, Pakistan, playing against England, scored 44, 58 and 45 in the three over groups, leading to 147. This is the most even T20 match of all time. It is the closest to the 30-40-30 split.
In match No. 191, Pakistan, playing against South Africa, scored 35, 49 and 36 in the three over groups, leading to 120. This is nearly as even as the earlier Pakistan innings.
In match No. 7, England, playing against Sri Lanka, scored 49, 65 and 47 in the three over groups, leading to 161. This is very close to the second match.

I had earlier used a variation index based on the 33.3-33.3-33.3 split across the groups. Then I decided that I could as well implement the 30-40-30 split. The index sums the three absolute ratio values for the groups.

A3. Most topsy-turvy matches

In match No. 344, Kenya, playing against Netherlands, scored 10, 69 and 22 in the three over groups, leading to 101. There has never been a match with such wild changes. The amazing change is in the second over group.
In match No. 73, Zimbabwe, playing against Pakistan, scored 54, 43 and 10 in the three over groups, leading to 107.
In match No. 322, West Indies, playing against Pakistan, scored 13, 56 and 25 in the three over groups, leading to 124. Somewhat similar to the first match.

A4. Start over-group (1-6)

Mat Year Bat    Bow R   Score   Final Score
377 2014 HOL vs ire W 91 for 1 193 for 4 91 2009 NZL vs sco W 90 for 3 90 for 3 147 2010 AUS vs win W 83 for 0 142 for 2 ... 75 2008 CAN vs zim 10 for 3 75 for 10 344 2013 KEN vs hol 10 for 5 101 for 9 64 2008 IRE vs ken W 13 for 2 72 for 6

The Netherlands blitz is of recent vintage. They had to deliver, in spades, on that day, against a very good team, and they delivered, and how! Surely one of the greatest batting displays ever. New Zealand's performance is less impressive. It was a seven-over rain-shortened match and they won with an over to spare. Australia's effort was a low total chase, done with disdain.

The low scores have been scored by the Associates. Canada and Kenya lost. Ireland made a heavy weather of a simple chase of 67 and took over 19 overs to score 72. But they won.

A6. Consolidation over-group (7-15)

Mat Year Bat    Bow R   Score   Final Score
27 2007 SLK vs ken W 131 for 2 260 for 6 125 2009 SAF vs eng W 126 for 2 241 for 6 328 2013 AUS vs eng W 122 for 1 248 for 6 ... 330 2013 KEN vs afg 21 for 4 56 for 10 131 2010 BNG vs nzl 25 for 6 78 for 10 19 2007 KEN vs pak 27 for 5 92 for 10

Sri Lanka's demolition job of Kenya in the middle overs, to the tune of 131 for 2, took them to a record score of 260. The next-two highest totals have been against England's bowling attacks. All these led to scores over 240, and comfortable wins.

Surprisingly, the lowest totals in the middle overs have not followed the three lowest totals in the first over group. Kenya followed a miserable 21 for 5 with an equally miserable 21 for 4. Bangladesh scored a respectable 39 for 2 in the first group and then collapsed to 64 for 8, scoring a forgettable 25 for 6 in the middle 9 overs. Kenya scored 34 for 3 and then scored 27 for 5 in the middle overs.

A7. Finish over group (16-20)

Mat Year Bat    Bow R   Score   Final Score
268 2012 ENG vs afg W 87 for 3 196 for 5 94 2009 SAF vs sco W 83 for 2 211 for 5 397 2014 WIN vs pak W 82 for 1 166 for 6 ... 73 2008 ZIM vs pak 10 for 5 107 for 8 67 2008 BER vs can 17 for 3 70 for 10 332 2013 AFG vs ken 19 for 3 115 for 8

Let me say that I have only looked at teams that played out 20 overs for the third over-group computations. Zimbabwe were reasonably placed at 97 for 3 at the end of 15th over, and then lost five wickets for ten runs. Bermuda, at 53 for 7 in 15, slid, predictably, to 70 all out. Afghanistan, in a reasonable position at 96 for 5, did badly in the last five overs, scoring 19 for 3.

B. Maiden Over analysis

First let me reiterate that the definition of dot balls and maidens are as defined in my previous article. A dot ball is one in which no run is added to the opposing team. A maiden comprises of six such dot balls. There are 152 maidens as per this definition. As per the traditional definition, there are 193 maidens. This means that there is a maiden once every five innings or so. So I can say that an "Ananth-maiden" is rarer than a "ESPNcricinfo-maiden"!!!.

B1. Bowlers who have bowled three or more maidens in their career

Only ten bowlers have bowled three or more maidens in their career. Four of these have bowled four maidens. The list is given below.

Bowler         Ctry Mat Overs Mdns %Mdns  M/M
RW Price Zim 16 61.3 4 6.50 0.25 Harbhajan Singh Ind 24 90.0 4 4.44 0.17 KMDN Kulasekara Slk 40 139.1 4 2.87 0.10 BAW Mendis Slk 39 147.3 4 2.71 0.10 MR Gillespie Nzl 11 35.0 3 8.57 0.27 SJ Benn Win 17 59.0 3 5.08 0.18 Shapoor Zadran Afg 20 59.0 3 5.08 0.15 DT Johnston Ire 29 99.0 3 3.03 0.10 AD Mathews Slk 53 121.3 3 2.47 0.06 GP Swann Eng 39 135.0 3 2.22 0.08

The interesting fact is that six of these are spinners. Ray Price and Mark Gillespie are the outstanding bowlers in this lot of accurate bowlers, having bowled more than a quarter of their overs as maidens. Let us also raise our collective hats for Shapoor Zadran and Trent Johnston, the only bowlers from the Associate countries.

B2. Bowlers who have bowled 2 maidens in an innings

The astute reader might recall one of the questions asked at the beginning of the article. "Has any bowler bowled three maiden overs in his spell?". The answer is no. The highest number of maidens bowled in an innings is two. It is an exclusive list of eight bowlers and is given below.

Mat Year Player Name     For  Vs  O  M  R W
395 2014 HMRKB Herath Slk Nzl 3.3 2 3 5 150 2010 SJ Benn Win Zim 4.0 2 6 4 75 2008 RW Price Zim Can 4.0 2 6 2 263 2012 BAW Mendis Slk Zim 4.0 2 8 6 137 2010 Shapoor Zadran Afg Sco 4.0 2 8 1 334 2013 LL Tsotsobe Saf Pak 4.0 2 9 2 272 2012 Harbhajan Singh Ind Eng 4.0 2 12 4 268 2012 GP Swann Eng Afg 4.0 2 22 2

The interesting fact is that seven of these eight bowlers are spinners. Rangana Herath, Price, Graeme Swann and Sulieman Benn bowled two consecutive maiden overs. Considering the quality of opposition, I would put Herath's spell as the greatest of these outstanding efforts.

B3. Maximum maidens in an innings/match

The highest number of maidens bowled in an innings is three, achieved by six teams. The list is given below.

64 : Kenya       vs Ireland
134: Australia   vs Pakistan
150: West Indies vs Zimbabwe
268: England     vs Afghanistan
272: India       vs England
330: Afghanistan vs Kenya.

The highest number of maidens bowled in a match is four, achieved in three matches. The list is given below.

64 : Kenya-3       & Ireland-1
150: West Indies-3 & Zimbabwe-1
268: England-3     & Afghanistan-1.

B4. Perfect Maiden overs

By a perfect maiden over I mean one in which six balls were bowled by the bowler to the same batsman, i.e. not dismissing the batsman in the first five deliveries. There are 50 such instances. I have selected the interesting and out-of-the-way performances by bowlers. 248/1/3 means Match #248, Innings 1 and Over 3.

248/1/3  KD Mills        to CH Gayle
105/2/6  Harbhajan Singh to CH Gayle
165/1/1  Harbhajan Singh to SR Watson
365/1/1  MA Starc        to Q de Kock
 56/1/4  JM Anderson     to BB McCullum
161/2/18 SW Tait         to Abdur Razzak

Do we believe our eyes when we read these lines? Kyle Mills bowling six dot balls at a stretch to the marauder Gayle. And this happened at the unlikely location of Lauderhill, Florida, USA. It is another thing that Gayle still scored 53 in 39, took his team to 177 and they won by 61 runs.
This time it was the turn of Harbhajan Singh to bowl a bewildering maiden to Gayle in the sixth over. He managed to restrict Gayle to 22 in 28. But a Dwayne Bravo special took West Indies to a comfortable win.
Harbhajan is the only top-flight bowler to do this twice. The second time was to the equally devastating Shane Watson. This was the first over of the innings. Still, Watson scored 54 in 32 and Australia won comfortably by 49 runs.
The rampaging Quinton de Kock was kept quiet by Mitchell Starc in the first over of the innings. de Kock could only score 41 in 40 and South Africa lost quite badly to Australia. Very recent vintage, this match is.
Shaun Tait bowled six dot balls to Abdur Razzak in the 18th over. That helped Australia defend a low total of 141.
Shoaib Malik, was the main batsman in six maiden overs. Two overs, he faced completely (against Robin Petersen and Lonwabo Tsotsobe). And in the other four maidens, he faced 12 balls. (35/1/6, 134/2/6, 226/1/11, 378/1/9).

B5. Super maiden overs

I define a super maiden over as one in which a bowler dismissed three or more batsmen. Taking two or more wickets gives me more than 30 such overs, so I have to move the bar up to three. Some of these overs were covered in Part 1. I have repeated the descriptions for completeness of this article.

Mohammad Amir-156/1/20 vs Australia: I consider this to be the most incredible over in T20 history. I feel a move from 191 for 5 to 191 all out, during the course of a single over, gets the nod. I would always take the side of the bowlers anyhow. The opponents were Australia and established batsmen were at the crease. The sequence was Brad Haddin caught, Mitchell Johnson bowled, Michael Hussey run out, Steven Smith run out, Shaun Tait dot ball and Tait bowled. Five dismissals, three wickets to the bowler, six dot balls, this was Houdini at work.
Tim Southee-193/1/8 vs Pakistan: Younis Khan dot ball, Younis caught, Mohammad Hafeez caught, Umar Akmal lbw, Abdul Razzaq dot ball and Razzaq dot ball. A hat-trick to Southee was the icing on the cake.
Jerome Taylor-50/1/2 vs South Africa: Van Wyk lbw, JP Duminy bowled, AB de Villiers dot ball, de Villiers dot ball, de Villiers dot ball and de Villiers bowled. All three wickets to Taylor.
Ashok Dinda-255/2/18 vs Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal dot ball, Chandimal caught, Shaminda Eranga dot ball, Eranga caught, Lasith Malinga dot ball and Malinga caught. Again, all three wickets to bowlers. A lovely symmetrical over: {. W . W . W}.

B6. Effective maiden overs

These are the maiden overs bowled at the business end of the innings, which means the overs 18-19-20. Five such maidens have been bowled till date.

Mohammad Amir-156/1/20 vs Australia: This over has already been covered.
Jeetan Patel-79/2/20 vs West Indies: Denesh Ramdin caught, Kieron Pollard dot ball, Pollard caught, Benn dot ball, dot ball and dot ball.
Wayne Parnell-323/2/19 vs Sri Lanka: Sachithra Senanayake dot ball, dot ball, dot ball, caught, Malinga dot ball and Malinga caught.
Tait-161/2/18 vs Pakistan: Perfect 18th over. Abdul Razzaq 6 dot balls.
Dinda-255/2/18 vs Sri Lanka: Already covered.

B7. Consecutive maiden overs

In match No. 150, Benn (Over 1), Kemar Roach (Over 2) and Benn (Over 3) bowled consecutive maiden overs against Zimbabwe. This is the only instance of three consecutive maiden overs and no run on the board at the end of 2/3 overs. Let us not forget that Zimbabwe also lost three wickets. Three wickets down for no score in 3.0: some start that was. They "recovered" to reach 105.
In match No. 64, Tony Suji (Over 15) and Jimmy Kamande (Over 16) bowled consecutive maiden overs against Ireland.

B8. Maiden overs: by bowling team

Australia:   17
Sri Lanka:   17
New Zealand: 15
India:       13
South Africa:13
Pakistan:    11
Ireland:     10
England:      9
West Indies:  9
Afghanistan:  8 

Australia and Sri Lanka have bowled the maximum number of maidens. Surprisingly, despite the presence of Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul et al, Pakistan have only 11 maidens. I expected more.

B9. Maiden overs: by batting team

Pakistan:    27
Kenya:       16
West Indies: 13
England:     12
Afghanistan:  9 
New Zealand: 11
South Africa: 9
Australia:    7
Ireland:      6
Sri Lanka:    5
India:        3

Yes, I assure you guys that I cross-checked. Pakistan have indeed conceded 27 maidens; eight of these to South Africa. I get the feeling that when playing with Misbah-ul-Haq, Malik, Hafeez et al, even the strokemakers go strokeless. And these, in just 81 innings: once every three innings. Kenya have been quite strokeless. West Indies are also there at the top. India and Sri Lanka are brilliant, conceding very few maidens: India once every 17 innings and Sri Lanka, once every 12 innings.

I have created a veritable treasure house of information, this time in the form of a text file. Those who are interested can download and create the Excel sheet themselves. This contains the runs conceded, wickets captured and dot balls bowled by over-group for each innings. To download/view the text file, please CLICK HERE.

I am so confident of the coverage that I have not even checked whether I have answered all the 11 questions posed at the beginning of this article. I am sure I have done it. Please revert if I have missed something.

I have rectified the lacuna in my analyses, i.e. absence of coverage of T20 internationals, with a bang, with a series of three articles. Now I will revert to Test matches. My next article will feature a very intriguing topic: Test batsmen consistency. Let me thank Robert Eddings for providing the spark for this.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems