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

The Numbers Game

The real McGrath, and India on the chase

S Rajesh examines the two bowling stars from the TVS Cup, Lara's awesome run-spree over the last two years and India's not-so-bad record when batting second in ODIs

S Rajesh

November 21, 2003

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

The Bracken and Kartik show
Nathan Bracken might not make it to the playing XI for Australia's home series against India, but he certainly scored plenty of psychological points against the Indian top order in the TVS Cup. His stats in the TVS Cup - 14 wickets at 13.92 and an economy rate of 3.57 - are figures that even Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie would have been proud of. Virender Sehwag had an especially torrid time - he faced 12 balls from Bracken, managed just the one scoring stroke, a four, and was dismissed three times. If they clash again, expect Sehwag to get a few reminders about his track record against Bracken.

How Bracken fared against the Indian top four
Balls
Runs
Dismissals
Ave
SR
Sehwag
12
4
3
1.33
33.33
Tendulkar
40
22
1
22.00
55.00
Laxman
56
29
0
-
51.79
Dravid
7
4
0
-
57.14

If Bracken was the outstanding bowler for Australia in the tournament, then Murali Kartik - the only other bowler to send down more than 20 overs and finish with an economy rate of under four - stole the show for the Indians. Especially startling is a comparison of how Ricky Ponting played the three premier Indian spinners. His emphatic handling of Harbhajan Singh immediately dismisses notions of any hangover from the 2001 debacle. Anil Kumble was handled with minimum fuss too, but against Kartik it was an entirely different story. Not only did Ponting score at a much slower rate, his in-control percentage was far lower too. Had Rahul Dravid not bungled with a regulation stumping chance at Bangalore, those figures would have looked even better for Kartik.

Ponting v Indian spinners in the TVS Cup
Balls
Runs
Dismissals
SR
In-control
Dot balls
Kumble
31
36
1
116.21
74.19
11
Harbhajan
22
19
0
86.37
95.45
11
Kartik
52
31
1
59.61
69.23
36

* * * * * *

Lara's hot streak
For Brian Lara, the second Test between Zimbabwe and West Indies was memorable not only for the win, but also because he went past Viv Richards as West Indies' highest run-getter. The last couple of years have been especially special for Lara - nearly a quarter of his career runs have come during this period (2094 runs in 18 Tests at 69.80).

Tests
Runs
Ave
100s
50s
Richards in Tests
121
8540
50.23
24
45
Lara in Tests
98
8626
51.65
22
41
Lara since November 2001
18
2094
69.80
7
8

A break-up of Lara's figures against pace and spin makes for interesting analysis: he was prolific against pace, but his performance against the spinners was outstanding. Muttiah Muralitharan was the only spinner to take his wicket three times during this period, but he toiled 710 balls and conceded 373 runs in the process.

Lara since November 2001
Runs
Dismissals
Ave
Against pace
1068
19
56.21
Against spin
1026
11
93.27

Some of the fast bowlers - notably Ashish Nehra and Andy Bichel - have had a fair amount of success against Lara, though. West Indies' next series is in South Africa, where Lara had a torrid time, both as batsman and as captain, the previous time he went there in 1998-99. Five Tests fetched him a mere 310 at 31, as Allan Donald and co. had much the better of the exchanges. Revenge time for Lara this time around?

Best fast bowlers against Lara
Runs
Dismissals
Ave
Nehra
35
3
11.67
Streak
43
2
21.50
Zaheer
44
2
22.00
Bichel
112
4
28.00

Leading spinners against Lara
Runs
Dismissals
Ave
Hogg
83
2
41.50
MacGill
126
2
63.00
Muralitharan
373
3
124.33

* * * * * *

India on the chase
India's performance in the TVS Cup once again lent credence to the belief that they are much better at setting a target than chasing one - three of their four defeats came when batting second, while both their wins came when batting first. Historically, though, the Indians have struggled more when batting first, achieving a win ratio of less than one in two, while they have won 143 out of 272 ODIs when batting second - that's 53 percent. England is the only team with a higher difference in ratios between matches won when batting second and batting first.

Batting first
Batting second Diff in ratios
Won/ Played
Ratio (a)
Won/
Played
Ratio (b)
(b-a)
England 80/181 0.44 111/193 0.58 0.14
India 112/251 0.45 143/272 0.53 0.08
New Zealand 90/219 0.41 89/201 0.44 0.03
West Indies 119/207 0.57 154/258 0.60 0.03
South Africa 93/143 0.65 94/150 0.63 -0.02
Pakistan 172/309 0.56 132/250 0.53 -0.03
Sri Lanka 87/188 0.46 97/226 0.43 -0.03
Australia 178/283 0.63 150/255 0.59 -0.04

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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