India in England 2014 August 5, 2014

Bhuvneshwar, Anderson evenly matched

James Anderson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been the leading bowlers in the series so far with similar stats, but in their head-to-head battles Bhuvneshwar is ahead

Virat Kohli v James Anderson was billed as one of the key battles in the series, but so far it's been a no-contest © Getty Images

Over the last few days, all the talk has been about the off-the-pitch battle between James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja. In this series, though, the more relevant on-the-pitch battle has been between Anderson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The new-ball bowlers from each team have been the two top wicket-takers in the series, and have led the attacks for their teams admirably.

The overall numbers for the two are remarkably similar so far: Anderson has bowled 26 more overs and has 16 wickets to Bhuvneshwar's 15, while their series averages are separated by a run. Against the top six batsmen, though, Anderson has done significantly better: when bowling to India's top six (Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane and Rohit), Anderson has achieved figures of 10 for 221, compared to figures of 6 for 163 when bowling to the rest of the Indian batsmen.

Bhuvneshwar, on the other hand, has been more successful against England's lower order than their top six. Against Cook, Robson, Ballance, Bell, Root and Moeen, he has only managed eight wickets at 33.12; against the other England batsmen, Bhuvneshwar has been outstanding, with figures of 7 for 76.

James Anderson v Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in the Test series so far
  Anderson Bhuvneshwar
  Overs Wkts Average Strike rate Overs Wkts Average Strike rate
Series stats 151.1 16 24.00 56.6 124.5 15 23.00 49.9
v top 6 batsmen* 98.5 10 22.10 59.3 102.3 8 33.12 76.9
v the rest 52.2 6 27.16 52.3 22.2 7 10.85 19.1
* Anderson v Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane and Rohit; and Bhuvneshwar v Cook, Robson, Ballance, Bell, Root and Moeen

Among India's top order, only two batsmen - Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay - have averaged more than 40 against Anderson in this series. Rahane has been the best among them, scoring 51 off 100 balls and getting out just once - a superb caught-and-bowled effort when Rahane was batting with the tail and looking for quick runs at Lord's. Vijay has been extremely patient against Anderson, scoring 94 off 259 balls. Both Vijay and Rahane have similar control percentages against him.

Shikhar Dhawan has been Anderson's bunny in the series, getting out to him three times in 78 balls, but surprisingly, his control percentage isn't very different from those for Rahane and Vijay - in fact it's marginally higher. Jadeja has scored runs at a fair clip against Anderson, but his control factor is poor - only 62%. Cheteshwar Pujara has a much higher control factor, but has been kept scoreless for long periods.

However, the biggest non-contest of the series so far has been between Anderson and Virat Kohli. Coming into the series, they were the leading bowler and batsman for their respective teams, but while Anderson has lived up to that tag, Kohli has struggled. In their head-to-head battles, Kohli has scored two runs from Anderson, and been dismissed twice - in the first innings at Lord's and Southampton. Before this series, Kohli had 23 runs off 81 balls from Anderson in Tests, and had been dismissed once; now the numbers read 3 for 25 from 102 balls - average 8.33, runs per over 1.47.

In fact, the only batsman who has faced more than ten balls from Anderson without being dismissed by him in this series is Bhuvneshwar, whose numbers against England's leading bowler are excellent - 32 runs from 61 balls, and a control factor which is the best so far by any Indian batsman.

Indian batsmen v James Anderson in this series
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate Control %
Murali Vijay 94 259 2 47.00 2.17 86.1
MS Dhoni 54 122 2 27.00 2.65 86.1
Ajinkya Rahane 51 100 1 51.00 3.06 86.0
Ravindra Jadeja 42 68 2 21.00 3.70 62.1
Cheteshwar Pujara 38 126 1 38.00 1.80 85.7
Shikhar Dhawan 32 78 3 10.66 2.46 87.2
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 32 61 0 - 3.14 90.2
Rohit Sharma 4 9 1 4.00 2.66 66.6
Virat Kohli 2 21 2 1.00 0.57 76.2
All batsmen 384 907 16 24.00 2.54 82.4

Among England's batsmen, Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Alastair Cook have all done pretty well against Bhuvneshwar so far, being dismissed only once each and achieving a pretty high control factor. Ian Bell and Sam Robson have been dismissed twice each, which is the highest number of times Bhuvneshwar has dismissed any England batsman in this series so far. Moeen Ali has a reasonable control factor against Bhuvneshwar, but has struggled to get him away for runs, scoring 10 off 63 balls.

Anderson has done well to be dismissed only once from 42 balls against him, but Bhuvneshwar can point to the control factor to show that he has been edging their head-to-head contest. (It's also pertinent to point out here that Bhuveshwar has a first-class batting average of 30.59, compared to Anderson's 10.40.) The overall control factors for batsmen against Bhuvneshwar and Anderson are also very similar, indicating there's been little to separate the two bowlers so far.

England batsmen v Bhuvneshwar Kumar in this series
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate Control %
Gary Ballance 86 160 1 86.00 3.22 86.2
Joe Root 51 92 1 51.00 3.32 89.0
Sam Robson 43 127 2 21.50 2.03 84.7
Alastair Cook 42 97 1 42.00 2.59 89.7
Ian Bell 33 76 2 16.50 2.60 85.5
James Anderson 25 42 1 25.00 3.57 65.8
Stuart Broad 13 9 2 6.50 8.66 66.7
Moeen Ali 10 63 1 10.00 0.95 87.3
Ben Stokes 0 10 2 0.00 0.00 80.0
All batsmen 341 749 15 22.73 2.72 83.5

Where the runs have been scored v Anderson and Bhuvneshwar

Where the runs have been scored against James Anderson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Much has been said and written about the number of runs scored through the third man region in this Test series, and the wagon-wheel of runs scored against Anderson bears this out. Out of the 55 fours that have come off his bowling, 23 have been behind the wicket, either through third man or backward point; in all, 126 out of the 384 runs he has conceded have come in that region. Against Bhuvneshwar the runs scored in that region are considerably lesser, possibly because of his lesser pace. On the other hand, Bhuvneshwar has been hit through the covers more often, conceding 13 fours, and 88 runs, in that region.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats