THE CORDON HOME

BLOGS ARCHIVES
SELECT BLOG
May 31, 2014

The most compelling head-to-head battles in ODIs

Anantha Narayanan
Although Harbhajan Singh dominated Ricky Ponting in Tests, the batsman negotiated the spinner quite efficiently in ODIs  © AFP
Enlarge

I had earlier mentioned that my next article would feature a very intriguing topic: Test batsmen's consistency, as suggested by Robert Eddings. Unfortunately, I have to postpone this by a fortnight since I will be out of my work place during the scheduled publishing weekend and may not be able to respond to the initial lot of comments, especially since the topic could warrant quite a few comments. So my apologies to those waiting for that specific article.

How often do I do this? As often as necessary: I am referring to Milind's invaluable (even this word seems to be too prosaic) contributions to the database I use. The jewel in the crown is the ball-by-ball data. He has provided the raw ball-by-ball data for the initial lot of matches, and the mechanism to download the data for current matches: for Tests, ODIs and T20Is. I have done a lot of analytical articles covering head-to-head numbers, series performances, Test performances and career summaries using the Test ball-by-ball data.

Recently I did a lot of over-based analysis using the T20 ball-by-ball data. The ODI data has been with me for a few months but I moved the initial T20 analysis ahead since I was fascinated by the completeness of the data and the possibilities it offered. In this article I will look at the famous head-to-head confrontations in the ODI format between a few selected batsmen and all the bowlers they faced during the period for which data is available. More analyses will follow. The presence of multi-team tournaments in ODIs, not present in Tests, makes these an ideal analysis base as we have the complete data for four World Cups.

Like Tests, and unlike T20s, we do not have complete ball-by-ball data for all ODIs that have been played. The starting point is match #1443, the first match of the 1999 World Cup, played in England. We have the data available for all the World Cup matches and then there is a vacuum. For over 200 matches there is no data available. Then we have data available from match #1719 (2001). After that only a few matches are missing. At the final count we have the data available for 1745 matches out of 3489 played to date (20 May 2014). This works to a second decimal point above 50%.

Now we come to the players. Since only part data is available from 1999, many modern batsmen have incomplete data. However it is good that we have reasonable data for many great batsmen. The table below gives a complete idea of the data availability pattern for the top batsmen. This table is relevant because I decided to feature 13 batsmen in this article. In bold letters, let me proclaim that the data for all batsmen, barring none, is available in the huge Excel file, which can be downloaded. In fact that table is more complete than the featured tables since the cut-offs are much lower and even for these featured batsmen you will get additional data in that.

BBB data availability for top batsmen

No L Batsman         Team  Runs Balls BBD-Bls  & %  Feature

1 SR Tendulkar Ind 18426 21367 10191 47.7% Yes 2 RT Ponting Aus 13704 17046 12090 70.9% Yes 3 ~ ST Jayasuriya Slk 13430 14725 7619 51.7% Yes 4 ~ KC Sangakkara Slk 12500 16164 15593 96.5% Yes 5 Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 11738 15812 5333 33.7% Too Low 6 JH Kallis Saf 11574 15866 10074 63.5% Yes 7 DPMD Jayawardene Slk 11512 14684 12419 84.6% Sang 8 ~ SC Ganguly Ind 11363 15416 7429 48.2% SRT 9 R Dravid Ind 10889 15284 9213 60.3% SRT 10 ~ BC Lara Win 10405 13086 4182 32.0% Too Low 11 Mohammad Yousuf Pak 9720 12942 9840 76.0% 12 ~ AC Gilchrist Aus 9619 9922 6326 63.8% Yes 13 M Azharuddin Ind 9378 12669 209 1.6% 14 PA de Silva Slk 9284 11443 1191 10.4% 15 ~ Saeed Anwar Pak 8824 10938 1643 15.0% 16 ~ S Chanderpaul Win 8778 12408 8380 67.5% 17 ~ CH Gayle Win 8743 10380 9669 93.2% Yes 18 DL Haynes Win 8648 13707 0 0.0% 19 MS Atapattu Slk 8529 12594 6589 52.3% 20 ME Waugh Aus 8499 11053 845 7.6% 21 ~ Yuvraj Singh Ind 8329 9547 9496 99.5% MSD 22 V Sehwag Ind 8273 7929 7929 100.0% Yes 23 HH Gibbs Saf 8094 9721 7576 77.9% 24 MS Dhoni Ind 8046 9016 9016 100.0% Yes 25 ~ SP Fleming Nzl 8037 11242 5995 53.3% Yes 26 TM Dilshan Slk 8025 9363 9096 97.1% 27 MJ Clarke Aus 7683 9754 9754 100.0% 2 Aus 28 Shahid Afridi Pak 7619 6590 3949 59.9% Yes .. 43 AB de Villiers Saf 6331 6746 6746 100.0% Yes .. 84 KP Pietersen Eng 4440 5128 5128 100.0% Yes

Now for the selection process. I set 50% of ball-by-ball data availability as a minimum requirement to consider a batsman for featuring. This is understandable since we want the analysis to be relevant. That rules out great ODI batsmen like Brian Lara (32.0%), Inzamam-ul-Haq (33.7%), Saeed Anwar (15%), Mark Waugh (7.6%), Martin Crowe (0%), Vivian Richards (0%) and so on.

I made an exception for Sachin Tendulkar since even his 47.7% availability translates to over 10,000 balls. So he was the first selection. Then came Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni for India. Both very attacking and different batsmen in different batting positions. From Australia I picked Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting; can anyone doubt their credentials? I picked Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara from Sri Lanka: two batsmen from different generations. From South Africa: Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers, again as different as chalk and cheese. I rounded off with one each from the other countries: Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle, Stephen Fleming and Shahid Afridi. Afridi's is an interesting case. I wanted to see how his attacking batting was handled by different bowlers.

The other batsmen who were under serious consideration were Mahela Jayawardene, Mohammad Yousuf, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Sourav Ganguly. They could not be accommodated because there were other equally good and similar batsmen. Crowe would have been a nice study since he faced tough and hostile bowling right through his career. And let me remind readers that this is a linearly structured article: the more the featured batsmen, the longer the article would be.

The comments follow a pattern. First I will comment on the confrontations in which the selected batsman was ahead. This will be followed by battles that were clearly won by the bowler. It is not easy for me to cover the many aspects of a key confrontation in two short paragraphs. I leave it to the readers to locate gems of their own.

The cut-offs are dynamic. If I have a 100-balls cut-off for Shahid Afridi, I will have no entry. If I have the same 100-balls cut-off for Sangakkara, there will be 48 entries. So this has been dynamically determined. In general, the cut-offs range from 60 (for Afridi) to 180 (for Sangakkara). In addition, I have also included bowlers who have captured quite a few wickets despite bowling relatively fewer deliveries. The idea is to have ten to 15 entries in the featured article. The Excel sheet, of course, has all the confrontations. Therefore, you may not need to ask me about how Tendulkar fared against Muttiah Muralitharan, because the Excel sheet covers head-to-heads such as this.

The strike rate percentage value (S/R %) is computed by comparing the concerned batsman's strike rate against the particular bowler to the batsman's career strike rate. It is possible that I could have used the strike rate derived from the ball-by-ball data instead of using career strike rate. However this would make sense only for batsmen for whom we have only part ball-by-ball data and the impact seems minimal. The strike rates of Tendulkar for the ball-by-ball period is 85.9 (Career-86.2), Gilchrist 99.0 (96.9), Jayasuriya 91.1 (91.2) and Afridi 119.4 (115.6). And all values are compared to the same figure. Hence I have stuck to the career strike rate since it is available readily.

AC Gilchrist (S/R: 96.9 BBD: 63.8%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
SM Pollock254168 66.1 68.2%7 36.317267.7% 9254.8%
WPUJC Vaas237206 86.9 89.7%6 39.514460.8%10852.4%
M Ntini187211112.8116.4%6 31.211159.4%15272.0%
M Muralitharan174157 90.2 93.1%2 87.0 8548.9% 3622.9%
KD Mills149165110.7114.2%5 29.8 9060.4%10865.5%
Zaheer Khan146127 87.0 89.7%3 48.7 9263.0% 7256.7%
D Gough134131 97.8100.8%3 44.7 8462.7% 9270.2%
IK Pathan127132103.9107.2%5 25.4 8063.0% 8866.7%
Mashrafe Mortaza124137110.5114.0%3 41.3 7258.1% 6849.6%
Wasim Akram115 96 83.5 86.1%5 23.0 8170.4% 6466.7%
M Dillon110 94 85.5 88.1%1110.0 6861.8% 5659.6%
A Flintoff106 74 69.8 72.0%4 26.5 7671.7% 4864.9%
CRD Fernando 95116122.1126.0%1 95.0 4749.5% 6051.7%
AB Agarkar 89129144.9149.5%2 44.5 4348.3%10077.5%
S Sreesanth 71 83116.9120.6%4 17.8 4664.8% 6881.9%
JEC Franklin 52 51 98.1101.2%4 13.0 3159.6% 3670.6%

Gilchrist took care of Ajit Agarkar, Dilhara Fernando and S Sreesanth very effectively. He was particularly severe on Agarkar. His boundary percentage against these two Indian bowlers was also quite high. Makhaya Ntini was also at sea against Gilchrist.

Shaun Pollock was Gilchrist's nemesis. He contained him and took his wicket often. Similarly Chaminda Vaas, Wasim Akram and Irfan Pathan bowled well to Gilchrist. Sreesanth, for all the mauling he took, struck often. Muralitharan was an enigma. He could not dismiss Gilchrist often, but conceded very few boundaries to him, butsurprisingly, he was not able to bowl too many dot balls at Gilchrist. This seems to be indicative of a planned strategy from Gilchrist of playing Muralitharan very carefully. Contrast this with Ntini.

RT Ponting (S/R: 80.4 BBD: 70.9%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
DL Vettori381249 65.4 81.3%6 63.521656.7% 6827.3%
JH Kallis255243 95.3118.5%3 85.012247.8% 8836.2%
Harbhajan Singh250211 84.4105.0%2125.012449.6% 7234.1%
SM Pollock239158 66.1 82.2%2119.514460.3% 6440.5%
KD Mills217166 76.5 95.2%5 43.412959.4% 8450.6%
M Muralitharan206173 84.0104.5%2103.0 9948.1% 6839.3%
JDP Oram196187 95.4118.7%0196.011056.1% 9651.3%
M Ntini191191100.0124.4%3 63.711158.1%10052.4%
WPUJC Vaas186142 76.3 95.0%5 37.212768.3% 6847.9%
Shahid Afridi160 82 51.2 63.7%6 26.710263.8% 1214.6%
IK Pathan151137 90.7112.9%4 37.8 8958.9% 7252.6%
PD Collingwood150130 86.7107.8%1150.0 7751.3% 6046.2%
J Botha123 84 68.3 84.9%6 20.5 6351.2% 2428.6%
SE Bond109 74 67.9 84.4%7 15.6 8174.3% 4864.9%
P Kumar 75 41 54.7 68.0%4 18.8 5472.0% 819.5%
L Balaji 53 37 69.8 86.8%4 13.2 3362.3% 2054.1%
JE Taylor 42 34 81.0100.7%5 8.4 3071.4% 2882.4%

For all the troubles that Ponting had against Harbhajan Singh in Tests, he took care of the offspinner very effectively in ODIs. He had a good strike rate and an effective strategy to prevent losing his wicket. Jacob Oram toiled long and hard for well over 30 overs and could not even dismiss Ponting once. Similarly Collingwood. There are quite a few bowlers with 100-plus Balls-per-Wicket (BpWI values against Ponting.

Daniel Vettori bowled a huge number of overs at Ponting and kept him quiet, aided by a low boundary %. Look at the way Ponting struggled against Afridi, Shane Bond and Johan Botha, so also against the Indian duo of Praveen Kumar and L Balaji. Barring Bond, these are bowlers in the eminently forgettable middle echelons.

SR Tendulkar (S/R: 86.2 BBD: 47.7%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
B Lee296199 67.2 78.0%7 42.321572.6%12060.3%
WPUJC Vaas219186 84.9 98.5%3 73.013561.6%11260.2%
MG Johnson218178 81.7 94.7%3 72.714566.5%11262.9%
JM Anderson194140 72.2 83.7%3 64.714273.2%10071.4%
KMDN Kulasekara183137 74.9 86.8%5 36.612467.8% 9267.2%
Shoaib Akhtar178147 82.6 95.8%4 44.512369.1% 8859.9%
M Ntini175102 58.3 67.6%2 87.512772.6% 5654.9%
Shahid Afridi172197114.5132.8%0172.0 7443.0% 9648.7%
SL Malinga170147 86.5100.3%4 42.510863.5% 8457.1%
CRD Fernando166136 81.9 95.0%5 33.210261.4% 4835.3%
A Flintoff161126 78.3 90.8%4 40.2 9559.0% 7257.1%
A Nel157130 82.8 96.0%2 78.510265.0% 8263.1%
SM Pollock150 59 39.3 45.6%5 30.011979.3% 2847.5%
DNT Zoysa101 85 84.2 97.6%4 25.2 6766.3% 6475.3%

Let us keep in mind that this data for Tendulkar pertains to the less productive second half of Tendulkar's career. Please do not rush off with irrelevant questions. The one bowler Tendulkar really mastered was Afridi, who was quite difficult to face. He achieved a strike rate of well over 110 and faced nearly 30 overs without losing his wicket. This was total dominance. He did not dominate anyone to this extent but scored quickly against Malinga, Vaas, Shoaib Akhtar and Mitchell Johnson.

Not surprisingly Brett Lee and Pollock, and quite surprisingly, Nuwan Zoysa had the measure of Tendulkar. Lee kept Tendulkar quiet and dismissed him seven times. Pollock was still more difficult to score off and Tendulkar was dismissed five times. Understandable, since these are excellent bowlers. But Zoysa, not necessarily in the upper echelons, dismissed Tendulkar four times in 101 balls but was attacked quite effectively, it must be said.

V Sehwag (S/R: 104.3 BBD: 100.0%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
KD Mills280270 96.4 92.4%5 56.017161.1%17263.7%
WPUJC Vaas238235 98.7 94.6%6 39.714058.8%14863.0%
CRD Fernando190156 82.1 78.7%2 95.011258.9% 8856.4%
KMDN Kulasekara188218116.0111.1%5 37.611159.0%14466.1%
DR Tuffey172156 90.7 86.9%0172.011667.4% 9661.5%
A Flintoff167111 66.5 63.7%2 83.510864.7% 6457.7%
SL Malinga151160106.0101.6%3 50.3 8455.6%11068.8%
Naved-ul-Hasan141139 98.6 94.5%6 23.5 8459.6% 7654.7%
JM Anderson132140106.1101.7%3 44.0 8463.6%10071.4%
SM Pollock126 98 77.8 74.5%5 25.2 8970.6% 6869.4%
Iftikhar Anjum126115 91.3 87.5%0126.0 6652.4% 5245.2%
JDP Oram126148117.5112.6%2 63.0 6249.2% 6644.6%
Mohammad Sami117128109.4104.9%1117.0 7261.5% 8868.8%
Shahid Afridi117125106.8102.4%4 29.2 5244.4% 3225.6%
D Gough 97 65 67.0 64.2%4 24.2 6567.0% 3249.2%
M Dillon 94 77 81.9 78.5%5 18.8 6872.3% 4457.1%
UWMBCA Welegedara 70 91130.0124.6%4 17.5 3854.3% 7683.5%
M Muralitharan 66 54 81.8 78.4%5 13.2 3350.0% 2037.0%
NW Bracken 52 30 57.7 55.3%5 10.4 4178.8% 2066.7%
MG Johnson 52 65125.0119.8%4 13.0 3363.5% 4467.7%
Shabbir Ahmed 51 55107.8103.4%4 12.8 3262.7% 4072.7%

Sehwag's batting style of treating all bowlers similarly is clearly seen in the numbers. There are no outliers either way. Barring couple of bowlers, all bowlers have gone for strike rates just either side of 100. Sehwag has attacked the Sri Lankan pace bowlers, led by Malinga, quite consistently. Also Anderson. His best performance has been against Daryl Tuffey - 172 balls, 156 runs and no dismissal.

Sehwag has also rewarded the bowlers by giving up his wicket quite often. Many of the bowlers are below 50. Andrew Flintoff, Darren Gough, Mervyn Dillon, Murali and Johnson have had fair amount of success. But the bowler to really have a measure of him was Nathan Bracken.

MS Dhoni (S/R: 89.2 BBD: 100.0%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
M Muralitharan317268 84.5 94.7%2158.515247.9% 9234.3%
Shahid Afridi250207 82.8 92.8%2125.012851.2% 6029.0%
ST Jayasuriya200185 92.5103.7%3 66.7 7135.5% 2010.8%
BAW Mendis196123 62.8 70.3%2 98.011156.6% 2419.5%
SL Malinga159172108.2121.2%3 53.0 6339.6% 7644.2%
MG Johnson136123 90.4101.3%3 45.3 7353.7% 6855.3%
Saeed Ajmal135 81 60.0 67.2%0135.0 7454.8% 1214.8%
GP Swann135101 74.8 83.8%1135.0 7454.8% 8 7.9%
S Randiv133 94 70.7 79.2%2 66.5 7354.9% 2829.8%
Abdul Razzaq124117 94.4105.7%0124.0 6149.2% 6454.7%
MF Maharoof121127105.0117.6%1121.0 5948.8% 4434.6%
CRD Fernando119102 85.7 96.0%4 29.8 6453.8% 3635.3%
Shoaib Malik101 94 93.1104.3%4 25.2 5049.5% 2425.5%
TT Bresnan 96111115.6129.6%4 24.0 4344.8% 5246.8%
B Lee 91 71 78.0 87.4%5 18.2 5863.7% 2839.4%

Dhoni handled quality spinners like Murali and Afridi quite well. Murali, the best of all. Low boundary percentage but an excellent strike rate. He attacked Malinga and Johnson. Also played Saeed Ajmal and Graeme Swann very carefully.

Surprisingly Suraj Randiv kept Dhoni quiet. And he lost his wicket to the pace bowlers, led by Lee, quite a few times. However his best strike rate was against Tim Bresnan.

JH Kallis (S/R: 72.9 BBD: 63.5%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
ST Jayasuriya201127 63.2 86.6%3 67.011155.2% 12 9.4%
Abdul Razzaq170131 77.1105.6%2 85.010260.0% 4433.6%
DL Vettori165 98 59.4 81.4%5 33.0 9960.0% 2020.4%
CH Gayle163146 89.6122.8%3 54.3 6439.3% 2013.7%
Harbhajan Singh159100 62.9 86.2%1159.0 8452.8% 2828.0%
Shahid Afridi136 74 54.4 74.6%4 34.0 7555.1% 810.8%
AB Agarkar136119 87.5119.9%2 68.0 7958.1% 6857.1%
KD Mills136 97 71.3 97.8%5 27.2 8864.7% 4849.5%
AF Giles134107 79.9109.5%1134.0 6951.5% 3229.9%
DJ Bravo125126100.8138.2%4 31.2 5544.0% 4838.1%
Shoaib Akhtar124 75 60.5 82.9%4 31.0 8971.8% 3850.7%
CD Collymore122106 86.9119.1%2 61.0 6754.9% 4845.3%
WPUJC Vaas121 84 69.4 95.2%0121.0 7763.6% 4654.8%
JN Gillespie 69 37 53.6 73.5%4 17.2 4565.2% 1232.4%

Kallis was quite comfortable against Harbhajan Singh and played him very carefully. Similarly, Ashley Giles and Vaas. He dominated Dwayne Bravo.

All top bowlers have contained Kallis. Harbhajan, Vettori, Jayasuriya and Afridi all kept Kallis to below 65%. Kallis had no answer for Jason Gillespie. He also found Vettori and Afridi difficult to handle.

AB de Villiers (S/R: 93.8 BBD: 100.0%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
Shahid Afridi260212 81.5 86.9%5 52.011042.3% 4420.8%
Saeed Ajmal204174 85.3 90.9%6 34.010451.0% 6436.8%
Mohammad Hafeez160151 94.4100.6%1160.0 6440.0% 3221.2%
P Utseya116133114.7122.2%0116.0 4337.1% 2821.1%
DJ Bravo105107101.9108.6%0105.0 4341.0% 4037.4%
Wahab Riaz105 91 86.7 92.3%0105.0 4946.7% 3235.2%
DJG Sammy103 78 75.7 80.7%1103.0 4543.7% 1215.4%
NW Bracken102 73 71.6 76.3%2 51.0 5755.9% 2838.4%
HMRKB Herath101 82 81.2 86.5%1101.0 4443.6% 2024.4%
Mohammad Irfan 97 68 70.1 74.7%1 97.0 5051.5% 2435.3%
MG Johnson 91 85 93.4 99.5%3 30.3 4953.8% 4249.4%
Mohammad Asif 90 59 65.6 69.9%0 90.0 6673.3% 4474.6%
Sohail Tanvir 75 91121.3129.3%0 75.0 3850.7% 6268.1%

de Villiers is consistent like Sehwag. Overall low boundary percentage and quite low dot ball percentage against most bowlers. Look at his high BpW figures against most bowlers. Also the consistently high strike rates, barring Mohammad Asif.

Ajmal really dominated de Villiers. Johnson was also very effective and had the lowest BpW value against him. Afridi also dismissed de Villiers often. One feature of de Villiers is that he seems to have faced more bowlers than other batsmen in this group.

ST Jayasuriya (S/R: 91.2 BBD: 51.7%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
Zaheer Khan291243 83.5 91.6%8 36.420068.7%14459.3%
SM Pollock225153 68.0 74.6%4 56.214765.3% 7649.7%
Syed Rasel167130 77.8 85.4%2 83.511669.5% 8464.6%
Wasim Akram161107 66.5 72.9%2 80.512074.5% 6863.6%
IK Pathan153151 98.7108.2%5 30.6 9260.1% 9260.9%
A Nehra148125 84.5 92.6%3 49.3 9161.5% 7257.6%
B Lee147123 83.7 91.7%4 36.810370.1% 7258.5%
Harbhajan Singh146108 74.0 81.1%6 24.3 8457.5% 4844.4%
Mashrafe Mortaza140112 80.0 87.7%3 46.710172.1% 6053.6%
DR Tuffey139 93 66.9 73.4%4 34.810374.1% 7277.4%
JM Anderson138127 92.0100.9%3 46.0 9367.4% 6450.4%
Waqar Younis135140103.7113.7%1135.0 7857.8% 9265.7%
SJ Harmison122132108.2118.6%3 40.7 7763.1% 7657.6%
KD Mills 94 77 81.9 89.8%4 23.5 6670.2% 6280.5%
AB Agarkar 72 62 86.1 94.4%6 12.0 4866.7% 4471.0%
NW Bracken 71 38 53.5 58.7%5 14.2 5070.4% 2052.6%
HH Streak 52 44 84.6 92.8%4 13.0 3465.4% 2454.5%
Umar Gul 50 43 86.0 94.3%4 12.5 2958.0% 2865.1%

Based on these figures one has to conclude that Jayasuriya handled the fearsome pace the best of all batsmen in this group. A strike rate exceeding 100 and a BpW figure of 135 against Waqar Younis. He also attacked Steve Harmison but lost his wicket often. Look at the high boundary % against most bowlers.

Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan, Umar Gul and Heath Streak mastered the irrepressible Jayasuriya. Possibly, Harbhajan was the most difficult of the bowlers he faced.

KC Sangakkara (S/R: 77.3 BBD: 96.5%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
Zaheer Khan339266 78.5101.5%5 67.821362.8%15457.9%
Harbhajan Singh324243 75.0 97.0%7 46.317353.4% 9237.9%
Shahid Afridi294245 83.3107.8%8 36.811739.8% 7229.4%
IK Pathan284210 73.9 95.6%5 56.818866.2%12459.0%
GB Hogg236182 77.1 99.7%4 59.011850.0% 4826.4%
Mohammad Hafeez231138 59.7 77.3%2115.511650.2% 2417.4%
V Sehwag224197 87.9113.7%5 44.8 8939.7% 4422.3%
Umar Gul224161 71.9 92.9%1224.015167.4% 7647.2%
B Lee223192 86.1111.3%5 44.613259.2%12062.5%
Abdul Razzaq196129 65.8 85.1%5 39.211156.6% 4434.1%
I Sharma185174 94.1121.6%2 92.510858.4%11264.4%
Saeed Ajmal179126 70.4 91.0%4 44.8 9553.1% 4031.7%
P Kumar164122 74.4 96.2%5 32.8 9557.9% 5242.6%
MM Patel130 85 65.4 84.6%4 32.5 8968.5% 4856.5%
A Nehra 96 67 69.8 90.2%5 19.2 6163.5% 3247.8%
Mohammad Rafique 88 94106.8138.1%4 22.0 3135.2% 4042.6%
RP Singh 47 33 70.2 90.8%4 11.8 3880.9% 2472.7%

Sangakkara absolutely dominated Gul. He faced 224 balls and lost his wicket only once. He also attacked Ishant Sharma very effectively. And Lee too, although he lost his wicket a few times to the bowler. He handled the innocuous spin of Mohammad Hafeez quite effectively.

Afridi really troubled Sangakkara and dismissed him most often. Hafeez kept him quiet. Mohammad Rafique and RP Singh dismissed Sangakkara at low BpW values.

CH Gayle (S/R: 84.2 BBD: 93.2%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
SM Pollock238158 66.4 78.8%5 47.616669.7% 7245.6%
JM Anderson221179 81.0 96.2%6 36.815570.1% 7240.2%
B Lee191172 90.1106.9%6 31.812163.4%11265.1%
D Gough185116 62.7 74.4%2 92.514477.8% 7262.1%
AB Agarkar172146 84.9100.8%7 24.611566.9% 8860.3%
Harbhajan Singh161119 73.9 87.8%5 32.2 9458.4% 3226.9%
RW Price160 93 58.1 69.0%0160.0 9760.6% 2425.8%
WPUJC Vaas158 55 34.8 41.3%3 52.712981.6% 2443.6%
KD Mills154116 75.3 89.4%6 25.710266.2% 2420.7%
Naved-ul-Hasan125105 84.0 99.7%6 20.8 8668.8% 8076.2%
Umar Gul 75 62 82.7 98.1%4 18.8 4864.0% 2845.2%
SR Watson 38 37 97.4115.6%4 9.5 2155.3% 1643.2%
DE Bollinger 26 33126.9150.7%4 6.5 1869.2% 1236.4%

For some obscure reason Gayle played Raymond Price very carefully, with a strike rate of 58 but no wicket lost in 160 balls. He attacked Lee but also got out often.

There are many bowlers who got Gayle out a number of times and had very low sub-25 BpW figures: Gul, Naved-ul-Hasan, Doug Bollinger, Shane Watson and Kyle Mills.

Shahid Afridi (S/R: 115.6 BBD: 59.9%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
SL Malinga 83 96115.7100.0%5 16.6 3845.8% 4041.7%
M Muralitharan 76 86113.2 97.9%6 12.7 4356.6% 2427.9%
Zaheer Khan 71110154.9134.0%0 71.0 3245.1% 6054.5%
M Ntini 71108152.1131.6%4 17.8 3143.7% 4844.4%
DR Tuffey 66 41 62.1 53.7%1 66.0 4974.2% 2458.5%
A Nehra 64 86134.4116.2%3 21.3 3453.1% 5260.5%
HH Streak 62 51 82.3 71.1%1 62.0 4064.5% 815.7%
Shakib Al Hasan 62 77124.2107.4%3 20.7 3150.0% 3241.6%
IK Pathan 60 71118.3102.4%7 8.6 2846.7% 2433.8%
SM Pollock 53 77145.3125.7%4 13.2 2852.8% 4051.9%
JH Kallis 50 81162.0140.1%3 16.7 2550.0% 3239.5%
JDP Oram 46 64139.1120.3%5 9.2 2043.5% 2031.2%
L Balaji 45 73162.2140.3%1 45.0 2657.8% 4460.3%
GP Swann 45 61135.6117.2%1 45.0 1635.6% 1626.2%
Abdur Razzak 43 74172.1148.9%0 43.0 1330.2% 2432.4%
LL Tsotsobe 35 66188.6163.1%3 11.7 1234.3% 2842.4%
NLTC Perera 35 50142.9123.6%4 8.8 1337.1% 2448.0%
JM Anderson 32 16 50.0 43.2%5 6.4 1856.2% 0 0.0%
JN Gillespie 27 10 37.0 32.0%4 6.8 2177.8% 440.0%
Shafiul Islam 27 62229.6198.6%2 13.5 1037.0% 3658.1%

Finally we come to Afridi. Quite difficult to analyse since 83 balls are the most that he has faced off a single bowler. It is also essential to only look at the strike rate since that was Afridi. Capturing his wicket after he scored 30 in 12 was nothing great. Afridi lorded over Zaheer, Ntini, Pollock, Kallis, Balaji, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Abdur Razzak: all with strike rates exceeding 150.

Tuffey kept Afridi quiet. Even though Anderson and Gillespie they bowled fewer balls, they kept him quiet and also dismissed him often. Irfan Pathan handled Afridi very well.

KP Pietersen (S/R: 86.6 BBD: 100.0%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
Yuvraj Singh148114 77.0 89.0%4 37.0 8054.1% 4035.1%
A Nel121130107.4124.1%2 60.5 5948.8% 5643.1%
Harbhajan Singh119 85 71.4 82.5%3 39.7 6857.1% 2428.2%
DL Vettori107 62 57.9 66.9%2 53.5 6157.0% 1219.4%
RP Singh 90 94104.4120.6%0 90.0 5257.8% 5659.6%
Zaheer Khan 90 77 85.6 98.8%1 90.0 4853.3% 4051.9%
RR Powar 87 57 65.5 75.7%0 87.0 5158.6% 2035.1%
Shahid Afridi 85 58 68.2 78.8%2 42.5 5058.8% 1627.6%
R Ashwin 85 81 95.3110.1%1 85.0 3338.8% 2834.6%
I Sharma 83 77 92.8107.1%3 27.7 4857.8% 4457.1%
RA Jadeja 83 59 71.1 82.1%1 83.0 4351.8% 813.6%
JDP Oram 81 52 64.2 74.1%1 81.0 5264.2% 2446.2%
Mohammad Hafeez 79 46 58.2 67.3%0 79.0 4658.2% 817.4%
MG Johnson 78 53 67.9 78.5%3 26.0 4962.8% 2445.3%
DE Bollinger 75 51 68.0 78.5%1 75.0 4864.0% 2447.1%
N Boje 66 83125.8145.2%1 66.0 3147.0% 1619.3%
JH Kallis 56 78139.3160.9%1 56.0 2035.7% 4051.3%

Look at the number of left-arm spinners who have bowled to Pietersen. But Pietersen seems to have handled Yuvraj Singh well. He was effective against Andre Nel, Zaheer, RP Singh, Nicky Boje and Kallis.

Vettori and Hafeez kept KP quiet. Yuvraj, Ishant and Johnson struck often.

SP Fleming (S/R: 71.5 BBD: 53.3%)
BowlerBallsRunsHtH-S/RS/R-%WktsBpWDBsDB %4s6s4s6s %
SM Pollock229140 61.1 85.5%2114.515567.7% 6445.7%
M Ntini225163 72.4101.3%3 75.014765.3% 9860.1%
B Lee166106 63.9 89.3%6 27.711871.1% 5652.8%
NW Bracken160 90 56.2 78.7%4 40.013282.5% 5257.8%
Zaheer Khan156110 70.5 98.6%1156.011573.7% 7669.1%
GD McGrath155 85 54.8 76.7%4 38.811171.6% 4451.8%
Mohammad Sami154110 71.4 99.9%3 51.311574.7% 7265.5%
A Nehra148 93 62.8 87.9%4 37.010973.6% 6064.5%
JH Kallis137112 81.8114.4%3 45.7 7756.2% 4842.9%
J Srinath125 41 32.8 45.9%3 41.710684.8% 2048.8%
A Nel120111 92.5129.4%1120.0 7965.8% 6457.7%
Azhar Mahmood118 82 69.5 97.2%3 39.3 7059.3% 4048.8%
AA Donald114 91 79.8111.7%2 57.0 6758.8% 4852.7%
Abdul Razzaq108 76 70.4 98.4%2 54.0 6661.1% 3647.4%
L Klusener101 97 96.0134.3%2 50.5 4948.5% 4445.4%
WPUJC Vaas 98 40 40.8 57.1%6 16.3 7778.6% 2050.0%

Stephen Fleming handled Zaheer, Pollock and Nel very well. In general, he was reasonably free scoring but did not exceed 100 off any bowler.

Fleming struggled against Vaas, Glenn McGrath and Lee. Javagal Srinath and McGrath kept Fleming quiet. Vaas probably had the complete hold over Fleming.

Interesting insights from complete table (Highs and lows)

Afridi bowled 394 balls to Mahela Jayawardene.
Jayawardene scored 279 runs off Afridi.
Michael Hussey scored 140 runs in 80 balls off Mills at a strike rate of 166%.
Michael Bevan scored 1 run off 33 balls from Walsh: a strike rate of 3%.
Mohammad Yousuf scored at 186 (67 off 36) against Mluleki Nkala which is 247.8% of his career strike rate of 75.1%.
Paul Collingwood captured Fernando's wicket 9 times. As did Shakib Al Hasan the wicket of Elton Chigumbura.
Afridi bowled 248 deliveries to Michael Clarke and dismissed him only once. Oram bowled 196 balls to Ponting without dismissing the legend even once.
Bollinger to Dinesh Chandimal, McGrath to Ashwell Prince and Agarkar to Dwayne Smith all resulted in bowler-dominant 3-wickets-in-5-balls results. Umesh Yadav captured Denesh Ramdin's wicket 4 times in 8 deliveries.
Vettori bowled 210 dot balls to Ponting. Out of the 74 balls Pollock bowled to Otieno, 66 (89.2%) were dot balls. Gayle bowled 82 balls to Younis Khan and a mere 20 (24.4%) were dot balls.
Sehwag scored 184 runs in boundaries off Mills, 162 runs off Kulasekara and 158 runs off Vaas. These are the top three boundary accumulations.
Gayle scored 68 of the 73 runs he scored off James Franklin in boundaries (93.2%). At the other end, Clarke scored only 4 out of the 72 runs he scored off Michael Yardy (5.6%) in boundaries. The amazing fact is that Clarke conceded only 22 dot balls and had an excellent strike rate of 87.8 against Yardy. Singles and twos galore.

I have created a huge Excel sheet containing the 30+ balls head-to-head confrontations of all batsman-v-bowler confrontations. This file contains data for nearly 9000 such contests and is ordered by batsman. Interested readers can get many insights that I have not been able to highlight in this article. To download/view the Excel file, please CLICK HERE.

By some distance these are the toughest articles to write. The perusal of tables to look for exceptions amongst multiple measures and writing these down for player after player is one never-ending task. I hope the next article, the one on Test batsmen consistency, will be quite different.

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

RSS Feeds: Anantha Narayanan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (June 3, 2014, 10:00 GMT)

wow.. the one and only thing inspire me in this article was Shahid Afridi strike rate... how a batsmen can play like this he did not took pity on any bowler.. he is simply awesome TRUE LEGEND

Posted by lovesanga on (June 3, 2014, 1:45 GMT)

Dear Ananth, from analyzing these data can you please list the best batsmen?? one request please can't you analyze top modern great batmen.it will be great..thanks for hard work and nicely done.continue your good work.
[[
That is not the purpose and I will never do that. Enjoy the comments made on the confrontations and try to get a better insight into the way the ODI game has evolved.
Ananth
]]

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 14:00 GMT)

It's amazing how people can nit-pick at something so extraordinary, the underlying effort which most of them wouldn't even realize. It would have taken a few days for you to arrive at those brilliant conclusions. But it's understandable. The new-age cricket fan is the I-stop-only-at-what-I think-is-awesome type. So no wonder. Hats off sir for the analysis! It's in the very late 2000s and this decade that statistical cricketing took to new highs. It's a great development for the sport and for the average cricketing brain as well. Looking forward for more posts like these! :)
[[
Thanks a lot. One such comment makes up for 10 negative comments.
Ananth
]]

Posted by Marcel_Ci on (June 2, 2014, 11:10 GMT)

such type of futile analysis made cricketers & stats of cricket irreverent. by no means these show any kind of outcome of battleship between contemporary cricketers.
[[
I think you meant "irrelevant" and not "irreverent". I will point this correction and publish the same even though you have understood nothing about the article. And maybe "battles" should be used instead of "battleship".
That Gilchrist was completely contained by Pollock
That Tendulkar cleaned up Arfidi
That Bond really took care of Ponting
That Dhoni handled Muralitharan very well and
That de Villiers struggled against Ajmal a lot
are not battles between contemporary cricketers ???
Ananth
]]

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

All articles by this writer