Pietersen and Mendis take top honours
Kevin Pietersen and Ajantha Mendis are the leading batsman and bowler in Twenty20 internationals, according to a study conducted by ESPNcricinfo. The study, which also looked at each individual batting and bowling performance, rated Brendon McCullum's 123 off 58 balls against Bangladesh in the ongoing World Twenty as the best in batting, while Umar Gul's 4 for 8 against Australia was the best bowling effort.
The analyses looked at every batting and bowling performance in Twenty20 internationals, with each one getting a score. As in the IPL analysis, there's extra emphasis on the scoring rates and economy rates, given the constraints of the number of deliveries available in this format. The performances were compared against the match stats, which means batsmen were rewarded for scoring quickly in a low-scoring game, while bowlers got more points for a tidy spell in a high-scoring match than in a low-scoring one. For batting performances, the innings were compared against the average scores at each batting position - that gave a deserved push to significant innings lower down the order, given that many of them were in high-pressure situations in which quick runs were required with few balls remaining.
Apart from this, the analysis also considered the strength of the opposition: runs scored against a stronger bowling side counted for more. Similarly, the bowling rating took into account the number of wickets per match, the quality of the batsmen dismissed, as well the overall batting strength of the opposition. Then, there was also a small bonus for strong performances in a big games, namely in the semi-finals and final of the World Twenty20 tournaments.
For example, Sreesanth's 2 for 12 from four overs against Australia in the 2007 World Twenty20 slots in at number two because it ticks all of those boxes. In his overall twenty20 career, Sreesanth's economy rate was a below-average 8.47, but on that day in Durban, he was unstoppable. The match was a high-scoring one - India made 188 and Australia fell 15 short - but Sreesanth had an economy rate of three per over, and also took the key wickets of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. No other bowler went at less than a run a ball in that match. One slot below that effort is Mendis' 6 for 16 against Australia, which included the wickets of Shane Watson, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson.
McCullum's 123 is the top batting effort because of the sheer number of runs scored and also the incredible scoring rate of 212.06, which is the second-highest strike rate among the eight centuries scored in Twenty20 internationals, and also the second by a non-opener. McCullum scored 123 out of 183 bat runs scored by New Zealand (67%), and the second-highest score in the innings was James Franklin's 35.
In second place is Umar Akmal's 64 off 31 balls against Australia at Edgbaston in 2010, in a match in which most of the other batsmen struggled - no other batsman faced more than ten balls and managed a strike rate of more than 135, while Akmal scored at a rate of 206.45. He is followed by Richard Levi, whose 117 came at a strike rate of 229.41, the best among the eight hundreds. The second-highest score in the South African innings was 39, as they chased down a target of 174 in 16 overs.
Four of the next five efforts are all worthy knocks from the World Twenty20 tournaments, beginning with Michael Hussey's stunning 24-ball unbeaten 60 which rescued Australia from a near-hopeless situation in the 2010 semi-final. Then there was Yuvraj Singh's blitz against England in 2007 which yielded 58 from 16, including 36 from a Stuart Broad over. (Yuvraj's 70 off 30 balls in the next match, the semi-final against Australia, is also in the top ten, at No.9.) In seventh place is Cameron White's unbeaten 85 from 49 balls against Sri Lanka in the 2010 World Twenty20, in a match in which no other batsman from either team touched 40. Marlon Samuels' excellent 78, which propelled West Indies to a match-winning score in the World Twenty20 2012 final, figures at No.8. One place above White's 85 is Shahid Afridi's unbeaten 52 off 33, in an extremely low-scoring match against Sri Lanka in which 221 runs were scored in the entire match.
Seven of the eight centuries find a place in the top 20, including one from an Associate team: Richie Berrington of Scotland made 100 off 58 balls against Bangladesh in a match in which no other batsman topped 31, and no other Scottish batsman touched 20. That effort comes in at No. 16.
The overall list for batsmen has Pietersen on top, largely because of his consistency in getting off to starts, and his stats against the best bowling attack. In 36 innings, Pietersen scored 25 or more in 21 innings (58%), and was dismissed for single-digit scores only four times. Also, in eight innings against Pakistan, the best bowling attack in Twenty20 cricket, Pietersen scored 348 runs at a strike rate of almost 134.
In comparison, an explosive batsman like Gayle has a much higher failure rate: he has scored 25 or more in 13 out of 29 innings (45%), but he has also been dismissed for single-digit scores 11 times. Also, Gayle hasn't played a single game yet against Pakistan. On the other hand, Gayle has eight scores of more than 60, six of which came at strike rates of more than 160. His overall score of 17.77 puts him in second place, ahead of Virat Kohli, another batsman whose recent form has lifted him several notches, to No.3. Kohli is slightly ahead of Shane Watson, who made three half-centuries in his first four matches in the World Twenty20 2012.
The top two bowlers in the overall list - Mendis and Daniel Vettori - both have economy rates of less than 5.80 per over, which is remarkable for this format. Mendis has a stunning average of 10.74 runs per wicket, while Vettori hasn't done badly either, averaging 19.45. Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes, more famous for their strike rates than their economy, are next, followed by the leading offspinner around, Saeed Ajmal. Ajmal's economy rate is exceptional (6.13), which is much better than Nannes' 7.52, but Ajmal has also played in more low-scoring matches: the overall run-rate in Twenty20 matches matches involving Ajmal is 7.14; in matches involving Nannes, it's 7.81.
For the tables click here.
Analysis conducted by Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan and Senthilkumar.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter