India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 5th day

Favouring the leg side

S Rajesh

October 12, 2003

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New Zealand's batsmen had their tactics well worked out when they came to face the Indian spinners on a fifth-day pitch. Play off the front foot, eschew strokes on the off side - especially shots against the spin - and sweep when in doubt.

As the table below demonstrates, three-quarters of the runs scored off the bat on the final day came on the leg side. The stats were most stark in the first session, when only six runs were scored on the off side, and 43 on the on. It wasn't as if the Indian bowlers strayed on leg stump either: out of the 540 balls bowled today, 400 pitched on or outside off, from which New Zealand managed 144 runs.

Where New Zealand scored their runs today Runs
Third Man 14
Point 15
Cover 20
Long off 3
Long on 6
Mid-wicket 61
Square Leg 44
Fine Leg 40

The sweep shot came in handy too: 35 of them were played in the first two sessions, fetching 47 runs. Craig McMillan might have been dismissed playing that stroke in the first innings, but that didn't prevent him from favouring that stroke in the second innings: 25 of his 83 runs came from that shot.

The New Zealand batsmen played forward almost 75% of the time - not surprising, considering the nature of the wicket - but apart from Lou Vincent, no-one was prepared to use their feet and come down the pitch. Vincent did it nine times, the rest of the team didn't step out even once.

For India, Anil Kumble showed an encouraging return to form. As the graphic shows, 212 out of the 235 balls he bowled were on good length or slightly short - that's an impressive 90%. For Harbhajan, the corresponding figure was a mind-boggling 95%. That New Zealand held on despite such accuracy says much about the fortitude and doggedness of the batsmen.

Where Kumble bowled in NZ second innings Balls bowled Runs
Full 19 27
Good Length 188 47
Short of Good Length 24 8
Short 4 12

S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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