Kumble the metronome
Anil Kumble has been India's go-to man for a while now, and he again answered the team's call on the second day at Mohali, getting rid of England's tail in a hurry to restrict them to 300. As usual, Kumble's length was impeccable - he hardly moved away from the good-length area, and importantly, he gave the batsmen no respite by dragging it short.
The only batsman who took the attack to him was Andrew Flintoff, who rode his luck to score 70. None of the other batsmen scored at more than 2.40 per over against him, but Flintoff managed 31 from 39 - that's 4.77 per over. The key was Flintoff's ability to attack the good-length balls: he scored 25 from 33 such deliveries (4.54 per over). None of the other batsmen managed anything close - Kevin Pietersen managed 13 from the 43 balls Kumble bowled to him, Paul Collingwood made 15 from 39, while Geraint Jones took 13 from 47.
The 103-run partnership between Flintoff and Jones lifted their partnership aggregate to more than 1000. The two have put on 1021 runs in 14 innings at an average of 72.92. Their highest stand is 177 against Australia at Trent Bridge in 2005. Of those runs, 803 have come for the sixth wicket, at an average of 73. Among sixth-wicket pairs who have added at least 750 runs only two pairs have a higher average.
|Allan Border & Greg Matthews (Aus)||10||815||81.50|
|Adam Gilchrist & Damien Martyn (Aus)||20||1351||75.05|
|Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones (Eng)||14||1021||72.92|
|Clive Lloyd and Deryck Murray (WI)||18||948||52.66|
|Jeff Dujon and Augustine Logie (WI)||21||954||45.42|
Flintoff also hit a couple of sixes during his innings, and his penchant for smashing the ball over the ropes has brought him another record. His 68 sixes in Tests is the most by an England batsman, going past none other than Ian Botham (67). The overall world record is 87, jointly held by Chris Cairns and Adam Gilchrist. The comment about Flintoff being the next Botham certainly doesn't look too premature now.
S Rajesh is stats editor, and Kanishkaa Balachandran is editorial assistant of Cricinfo. For some of the stats they were helped by Arun Gopalakrishnan