Australia in England / Features

England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 2nd day

Getting the opening act right

How Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden put together their first century partnership of the series

On the ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

September 9, 2005

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After putting together partnerships of 35, 18, 0, 47, 58, 24, 20 and 50 in the series so far, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden finally managed their first century stand in the last Test. It was an especially huge struggle for Hayden, who scored his runs at two per over, compared to Langer's 4.3.

Hayden's lack of confidence showed in his ultra-cautious approach - he scored at 1.85 runs per over against Ashley Giles, 1.64 against Steve Harmison and 1.29 against Matthew Hoggard. Langer's run rates against those three bowlers were 5.59 (Giles), 3.11 (Harmison) and 5.60 (Hoggard). While Hayden's defensive approach was unusual, he did it well: his in-control factor - that's the number of balls middled or left alone - though, was an outstanding 89.58%. Langer's was only 79.05.

Before this innings, Hayden had a scoring rate of 61.62 to Langer's 53.70, but quite surprisingly, in the 27 fifty-plus stands they've been involved in since 2002, Langer has outscored Hayden 16 times. If Hayden continues to score at the same rate till he gets out, this innings will rank as his second-slowest among knocks in which he faced at least 75 balls. His slowest remains the 19 he scored off 77 balls against West Indies in 2003. His other top go-slow efforts are 40 off 115 balls against South Africa in 1997, 35 off 99 balls against England in 2001 and 36 off 91 balls earlier in the current series. In all those knocks, he finished with a strike rate of less than 40.

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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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