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ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

The Numbers Game

The Dravid-Laxman symphony, and Lara's run-riot

Perhaps numbers do never reveal the full story, but they tell a large part of it fairly well

S Rajesh

December 19, 2003

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Perhaps numbers never do reveal the full story, but they tell a large part of it. Every Friday, The Numbers Game will take a look at statistics from the present and the past, busting myths and revealing hidden truths:

Dravid on a roll
Rahul Dravid had long been considered India's best bet - along with Sachin Tendulkar - in bowler-friendly conditions, but only recently has he finally transformed from being a technically correct, good-looking batsman to one who uses his skills to make a contribution when the team needs him most. In the last 20 months, Dravid has been in stunning form, averaging more than 69 in Tests when he has batted at No. 3.

What's more remarkable, though, is the way he has scored runs on most occasions when India have stumbled at the start of their innings. Over the last 20 months, when India lose their first wicket for less than 25, Dravid averages more than 55; the corresponding figure over the three-year period before that (Feb 1999-Feb 2002) was just 28. Of course, he has not wasted the good starts either, scoring three hundreds on the ten occasions when the openers have provided the platform. Though Dravid's average was a healthy 47 between 1999 and 2002, most of his runs then came after the openers had done their bit.

Dravid at No. 3 since February 2002

Innings
Runs
Average
100s
31
1868
69.18
6
1st wicket <=25
21
1054
58.56
3
1st wicket >25
10
814
90.44
3

Dravid at No. 3 from Feb 1999 to Feb 2002

Innings
Runs
Average
100s
32
1384
47.72
4
1st wicket <=25
19
512
28.44
1
1st wicket >25
13
872
79.27
3

* * * * * *

Perfect harmony
Meanwhile, Dravid and VVS Laxman continued their magic, putting together their sixth century partnership in 31 tries. More than half their stands have been for the fifth wicket, where they put together, on an average, a phenomenal 84 runs per partnership.

Dravid-Laxman partnerships

For
Runs
No. of p'ships
Ave p'ships
2nd wicket
265
10
26.5
3rd wicket
150
2
150
4th wicket
179
3
59.67
5th wicket
1185
16
84.64
Total
1779
31
63.54

In fact, Dravid and Laxman are the most successful fifth-wicket pair in the history of Test cricket (among those who have batted together at least ten times). A striking feature is their tendency to carry on once they get a start -the 51-run stand in the second innings at Adelaide was the first time they didn't convert a fifty partnership into a hundred. Mudassar Nazar and Javed Miandad have an even better conversion rate, though, of eight hundreds and one fifty.

Most successful pairs for each wicket (min qual: 10 innings)

For Pair
Runs
Inn.
Ave
100s
50s
1st wkt Hobbs & Sutcliffe
3249
38
87.81
15
10
2nd wkt Bradman & Woodfull
1579
15
105.27
7
3
3rd wkt Miandad & Mudassar
1734
19
91.26
8
1
4th wkt Barrington & Dexter
985
11
109.44
4
4
5th wkt Dravid & Laxman
1185
16
84.64
5
1
6th wkt Dujon & Lloyd
731
10
91.38
3
2

* * * * * *

More runs, more losses
Brian Lara's glorious double-hundred at Johannesburg continued an amazing run for him in overseas Tests that West Indies have lost. His scores in the last four such matches - starting with the first Test against Sri Lanka in 2001-02 - read 178, 40, 74, 45, 221, 130, 202 and 5: 895 runs at 111.88. Thanks to this glorious run, Lara's average in lost games overseas has shot up from a mere 30.26 to 41.51, the third-highest in the alltime list. Lara is also the only player to score a double-century twice in losing causes, while his six hundreds puts him in joint-top spot. As the table below shows, Lara has also been part of an extraordinarily high number of overseas defeats, an indication of just how miserably West Indies have performed abroad recently.

Top batsmen in overseas defeats (qual: min 10 Tests)

Player
Tests
Runs
Ave
100s
Hutton
12
1016
53.47
2
Hobbs
17
1743
52.82
6
Lara
29
2408
41.52
6
MAK Pataudi
10
821
41.05
1
Ponting
10
805
40.25
2
A Flower
20
1445
40.14
4
Haynes
11
842
40.1
3
Gavaskar
21
1602
40.05
6
S Waugh
22
1479
39.97
3
M Amarnath
15
1190
39.67
1

Current batsmen in overseas defeats (min qual: 10 Tests)

Player
Tests
Runs
Ave
100s
Tendulkar
23
1727
37.54
6
Bashar
16
1114
35.94
1
Kallis
11
732
34.86
0
Thorpe
13
794
31.76
1
Laxman
12
658
31.33
1
Dravid
17
969
31.26
1
Inzamam
18
1088
30.22
1

* * * * * *

One-way traffic
Andy Flintoff came to Sri Lanka with plenty of runs under his belt, but he has had a rather quiet time there. His tormentor in the series has been Muttiah Muralitharan, a former team-mate at Lancashire. Despite Flintoff's 77 in the first innings in Colombo - 11 of which were scored off Murali - he averages a mere seven against him in this series.

Murali v Flintoff in current series

Balls
Runs
Dismissals
Ave
105
28
4
7

That knock of 77 did help prop up Flintoff's appalling Test record in Asia, though. Before that innings, his Test stats on the subcontinent read: 62 runs from five matches, with a highest of 19 and an average of 6.88. After England's first innings, Flintoff's average in Asia has doubled to 14.9 - still not great, but heading in the right direction at last.

S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.

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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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