India v New Zealand, TVS Cup, Game 6, Cuttack November 6, 2003

The importance of the single

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Scott Styris (r) and Craig McMillan make another ball count during their 127-run stand © AFP

On a slow pitch, the batsmen from both teams struggled to score boundaries. Where New Zealand won, though, was in their superior ability to work the ball around for ones and twos. The Indians scored 104 runs in boundaries (23 fours and two sixes); for New Zealand, the corresponding figure was 102 (24 fours and one six). Yet, New Zealand scored three more runs than India in 15 fewer deliveries.

The difference can be gleaned from the way the top-scorers from both teams played. Kaif played out 65 dot balls in his 64, taking just 33 singles - an unacceptable ratio of two dot balls per single. Add to that the fact that he scored just five fours, and it's clear why he ended up with a strike rate of just 59.

How McMillan and Kaif got their runs
Mc Millan
(82 from 92 balls)
Kaif
(64 from 108 balls )
Dot balls
43
65
Singles
33
33
Twos
8
4
Threes
1
1
Fours
6
5
Sixes
1
0
Strike rate
89.13
59.25

Craig McMillan, on the other hand, took exactly as many singles as Kaif, but played out 22 fewer dot balls. The percentage of runs in boundaries was nearly the same for both - 31 for Kaif, 36 for McMillan - but the ability to work the ball around enabled McMillan to end up with a strike rate of 89.

The Indian batsmen who best handled the conditions was Rahul Dravid. Just eight of his 31 runs came through boundaries (26%), but he ended up with a strike rate of 76. The key to his batting was his ability to nurdle the singles - he took 21 of them, and played just 17 dot balls. A few more overs of Dravid at the crease, and India might well have had a formidable score on the board.