ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India's bowling woes in overseas ODIs

All aspects of India's bowling have been a shambles in recent ODIs, be it pace or spin, bowling with the new ball or in the slog overs

S Rajesh

January 31, 2014

Comments: 108 | Text size: A | A

Mohammad Shami celebrates Ross Taylor's wicket, New Zealand v India, 2nd ODI, Hamilton, January 22, 2014
Mohammad Shami has been among the wickets in overseas ODIs, but he has leaked 25 boundaries in 108 balls in the slog overs © Getty Images
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With just a year to go for the 2015 World Cup, India's performances in their last two ODI series have caused plenty of concern. On the tour to South Africa earlier this season, they were thrashed in two games and might well have lost the third as well if not for the weather; their three defeats in New Zealand have been by smaller margins, but that isn't any consolation for a team that started this tour as the No. 1 side in the world. India will go into the 2015 World Cup as the defending champions, but based on their recent record they'll not be favourites, especially because the tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand.

Since their 2011 World Cup win, India's overall ODI record looks impressive: 43 wins, 26 losses in 75 matches, for a win-loss ratio of 1.65, the best among all teams during this period. However, their overall numbers hide their poor record in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa during this period. Despite the win in the Champions Trophy in England last year - a tournament in which they achieved a clean 5-0 win-loss record - India's stats in these countries since 2011 is eight wins and 12 losses, and a win-loss ratio of 0.66. Five teams, including Sri Lanka, have a better win-loss ratio in these countries during this period.

On the other hand, when not playing in those countries, India have been unstoppable, winning 35 and losing 14, easily the best win-loss ratio among all teams. However, their record in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa will worry them, given that they also don't have too much time to set things right.

The table below shows that India's batting average drops to 32.65 when playing in these four countries, from 40.79 everywhere else. However, India's batting run rate is marginally higher in these four countries - 5.58 to 5.53. The bowlers, though, have struggled to keep the runs down, conceding 5.67 runs per over in these countries, up from 5.22 everywhere else. When compared with other teams who've played in these four countries during this period, India's record is worse than all teams except West Indies, who've gone at 5.72 to the over.

India's ODI record since the 2011 World Cup
  Matches W/ L Ratio Bat ave/ RR Bowl ave/ ER
In Aus, Eng, NZ, SA 25 8/ 12 0.66 32.65/ 5.58 36.61/ 5.67
In other countries 50 35/ 14 2.50 40.79/ 5.53 31.19/ 5.22
ODI records of teams in Aus, Eng, NZ and SA since the 2011 World Cup
Team Matches Won Lost Ratio
England 41 22 15 1.46
New Zealand 26 14 10 1.40
Australia 40 21 16 1.31
South Africa 34 17 14 1.21
Sri Lanka 30 13 15 0.86
India 25 8 12 0.66
Pakistan 11 4 7 0.57
West Indies 14 3 10 0.30

MS Dhoni has often complained about his lack of bowling options overseas where the pitches are truer and don't offer much turn, and the numbers below bear out his complaint. India's bowlers - both pace and spin - have fared much worse in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa than in other countries. In those four countries, the fast bowlers have averaged almost 40 runs per wicket and six per over; in other countries both their averages and the economy rates are better. The wicket-taking ability of the spinners takes a major hit in these countries - best illustrated by R Ashwin's recent struggles - as the average goes up from 30 to 44. The lack of wickets usually means opposition teams have more wickets in hand to go after the bowling in the slog overs.

How India's bowlers have measured up since the 2011 World Cup
  Type Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
In Aus, Eng, NZ, SA Pace 92 39.48 5.88 40.2
  Spin 55 44.16 5.21 50.8
In other countries Pace 184 34.90 5.41 38.7
  Spin 180 30.06 4.78 37.6

Admittedly, spin bowling in those countries isn't an easy task, given that pitches are usually true and don't turn much, but even so the stats for Indian spinners are worse than those of any other team, both in terms of averages and economy rates. Pakistan's spinners average almost 40, but they've conceded only 4.62 runs per over, compared with India's 5.21. England's spinners have conceded 5.06 per over - the only side other than India to concede more than five - but they've averaged 35.18, considerably better than India's 44.16. India's spinners have taken 55 wickets in 25 matches, but that's more a reflection of the number of overs they've bowled per match: they've bowled about 19 per game, but they haven't actually given the team control in terms of curbing the runs or taking wickets.

Spinners in Aus, Eng, NZ and SA since the 2011 World Cup
Team Matches Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Pakistan 11 29 39.48 4.62 51.2
Australia 40 45 42.13 4.76 53.0
New Zealand 26 40 39.70 4.83 49.2
South Africa 34 45 40.24 4.85 49.7
Sri Lanka 30 46 43.82 4.89 53.6
West Indies 14 22 41.22 4.96 49.8
England 41 55 35.18 5.06 41.6
India 25 55 44.16 5.21 50.8

If India's spinners have less-than-flattering stats abroad, then the fast bowlers aren't much better. When playing in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa, they've averaged 39.48 runs per wicket, and 5.88 per over. In both these parameters, only West Indies have done worse than India, averaging 43.09 per wicket and 5.93 per over. On the other hand, the best teams are way better than India: South Africa average 26.61 at an economy rate of 4.88; Australia average 28.36 at an economy rate of 4.99. (Click here for the full list.)

Whether it's operating with the new ball in conditions that offer something to the quick bowlers, or bowling at the death when opposition batsmen are in search of quick runs, India's pace attack has been equally toothless. In the first ten overs, they've conceded, on average, 4.91 runs per over and almost 40 runs per wicket, worse than all teams except West Indies. The best in class, South Africa, are streets ahead - they average 28.65 per wicket, and 3.99 per over. In the last ten, India's seam attack leak 8.33 runs per over and again share the bottom place, this time with New Zealand, whose fast bowlers do significantly worse at the end of the innings than they do at the start. India's pace bowlers don't take too many wickets either at the death, averaging more than 33 per wicket. The best in class, South Africa again, concede about half the number of runs per wicket, and only 6.20 per over.

The last column in the tables below further illustrates the proclivity of the Indian fast bowlers to ease pressure, by frequently conceding boundaries. In the first ten overs, they concede a four or a six every 8.58 balls - the worst of the lot - while the best in class is Australia's 11.61. In the last ten, they concede a four or a six every 6.51 balls, worse than all teams except New Zealand. The top teams in this category - Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia - make the opposition batsmen wait more than 8.5 balls per boundary. Mohammad Shami has been the worst offender in this category, conceding 25 fours or sixes in 108 balls in the last ten overs, an average of one every 4.32 balls. His economy rate at the death is 9.88. Ishant Sharma has had his share of forgettable spells at the end, but overall his slog-over stats are better: an economy rate of 7.28, and a boundary every 7.64 balls. Umesh Yadav is similar, with an economy rate of 7.27, and a boundary every 6.60 balls.

Fast bowlers in the first 10 overs in ODIs in Aus, NZ, Eng, SA since Apr 2011
Team Inngs Wickets Average Econ rate Balls/4 or 6
South Africa 33 44 28.65 3.99 10.58
Pakistan 11 15 28.26 4.15 10.03
New Zealand 26 36 29.02 4.24 10.04
Australia 40 56 29.05 4.26 11.61
England 39 55 30.32 4.31 10.70
Sri Lanka 30 37 35.59 4.77 9.80
India 25 30 39.36 4.91 8.58
West Indies 14 15 40.73 4.91 8.78
Fast bowlers in the last 10 overs in ODIs in Aus, NZ, Eng, SA since Apr 2011
Team Inngs Wickets Average Econ rate Balls/ 4 or 6
South Africa 25 49 17.59 6.20 8.60
Sri Lanka 23 42 24.80 6.70 9.61
Australia 27 63 22.34 6.94 8.82
England 30 65 23.56 7.39 7.10
Pakistan 9 10 26.60 7.86 6.15
West Indies 9 12 35.08 8.09 6.64
India 19 28 33.57 8.33 6.51
New Zealand 18 32 26.00 8.33 5.65

And finally, a look at the Indian bowlers who've sent down more than 50 overs in these four countries during this period. Whichever way you look at it, these numbers don't make for impressive reading. The bowlers with reasonably good economy rates average more than 40 runs per wicket; those who average less than 30 go at about six an over or more. Umesh Yadav, who some experts reckon should be playing in the ODIs in New Zealand, averages almost 60 runs per wicket and goes at a run a ball. No wonder Dhoni has been wondering aloud about his bowling options for the 2015 World Cup.

Indian bowlers in ODIs in Aus, NZ, Eng, SA since Apr 2011 (Qual: 50 overs)
Bowler Overs Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 80 9 44.00 4.95 53.3
R Ashwin 198 23 43.26 5.02 51.6
Ravindra Jadeja 186.4 24 40.04 5.14 46.6
Praveen Kumar 57 6 49.50 5.21 57.0
Vinay Kumar 68.5 11 34.45 5.50 37.5
Ishant Sharma 70 16 25.87 5.91 26.2
Umesh Yadav 98.4 10 59.90 6.07 59.2
Mohammad Shami 62 19 23.15 7.09 19.5

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by Dhairy on (February 4, 2014, 23:02 GMT)

Some digits of AVG of Indian cricketers taken from espncricketinfo.com suggest that players playing at LA avg of 50 is not taken and players with LA avg of 35 is playing every game.here is list.

Player LaAvg (La matches)+ODIsavg (ODIs)

Pujara 54.57 (68) Kedar Jadhav 51.11 (44) SR 106.36 Kohli 51.01 (164) + 51.85 (130) Dhoni 52.06 (300) + 53.28 (243) Dhawan 46.37 (136) + 41.00 (35) KL Rahul 52.53 (15) Juneja 44.23 (22)

Raina 36.55 (244) + 35.35 (189) Yuvraj 37.65 (374) + 36.37 (293) Rahane 34.37 (86) + 22.30 (23) Rohit 36.85 (186) + 35.68 (119) Rayudu 36.25 (71) Uthappa 36.94 (136) + 27.10 (38) Yusuf Pathan 33.83 (145) + 27 (57) D Kartik 36.33 (161) + 28.06 (67) Sehvag 34.44 (324)+ 35.05 (251) Gambhir 37.55 (261) + 39.68 (147)

How can we except players don't have 40+ avg at LA level will be a great ODI player? We should have 3 players in top 5 with avg of 50+ & 1 avg of 40+.

Posted by thomas on (February 3, 2014, 18:37 GMT)

Dhoni is very reluctant to try out new. He needs to go for things to change. He is a misfit in tests and should be replaced with someone else with Kohli as captain. Time to ring in change. As for bowling how long will they ignore Ojha and Mishra keep trying Ashwin

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 3, 2014, 11:29 GMT)

Shami, Zaheer, Bhuvaneshwar, Jadeja , and from the looks in the practice match India should give a chance to Ishwar Pandey, rather than sticking on with those who haven't done anything exceptional in any of the overseas matches.

Ashwin if needed can be brought in as a Batting All-rounder rather than as a spin bowler. He is not that effective in these conditions.

Ishant Sharma will come in handy in the Tests. But in ODI's he is rather expensive... (Well, who among them is not, right ? ) But the way he bowled in the test in SA and in the practice match in NZ I think he can be a right pick..

India should give more chance to Varun Aaron. He is a genuine fast bowler. India need someone of that pace. Give him time to develop his confidence and ability. Hitting 145+kmph consistently is not common at all in India, so they should give him a considerable amount of chance.

Umesh has the wicket taking ability even though he tends to be expensive. His pace will come in handy in these pitches.

Posted by Rahul on (February 3, 2014, 10:56 GMT)

Some of the stats in regard to the Indian spinners could be on account of the state of the game they have been required bowl in. If the quicks dont take early wickets, spinners will always be under the cosh. They will either have to bowl defensive lines or be taken for runs by the opposition batsmen. More so now, with the fielding rule changes. In defense of our spinners, there have been several occasions overseas where they have managed to pull the game back only for the seamers to let it go again between overs 35-50. Having said this, I believe PAK/SL/England and even BD and the WI, have more influential spinners in the ODI game than does India

Posted by Arul on (February 3, 2014, 10:07 GMT)

Flat track bullies (RSharma & Dhawan) are opening in ODIs, thats the reason for batting failures.

Posted by Sumeera on (February 2, 2014, 16:02 GMT)

Reading many a comment, makes me think do Indians think just beating SL or Pak continuously make them feel like world champions? Stats dont think so! Reading many a banter between these nationalities makes me reall think that. Quite silly really!

Posted by Simon on (February 2, 2014, 3:33 GMT)

Figures back up everything I've ever believed about spinners from playing and watching. Their strike rate, economy rate, averages and wickets prove that off spinners are just there to give the real bowlers a rest. The only ones who perform lower in any of these categories have all bent their arm to deliver, some even have had the law changed to suit them. All need favourable conditions prepared for them to still under achieve!

Posted by Kah on (February 2, 2014, 2:28 GMT)

Just in a few weeks, we will have major tournaments in the sub continent where India will play sub par teams like Pak and SL and the fans will forget about this and enjoy the IPL where players like Sharma, Dhawan etc will make millions. The only way changes can be made is if India's public stops following cricket played in their subcontinent. Immediate changes are extremely important for India, including inclusion of Gambhir and Pujara in the ODI side, Yuvi can also come in. Most critical change is Dhoni should be fired from captainship, he can be a senior wicketkeeper batsman, but unless he is the captain he will not let gambhir come in the side

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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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