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

The Numbers Game

Indian high-fives and double declarations

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

S Rajesh

January 9, 2004

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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.

The Indian high-fives
Before India's tour to Australia, if someone had suggested that one team would end up with five five-fors in the Tests and the other would get none, you'd probably have bet that Australia would be the first team and India the second. As it turned out, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble (three times) and Ajit Agarkar were the only bowlers to nab five-fors in the four-Test series, while the Australians, for only the second time in a home series of four or more matches, failed to achieve that landmark even once.

Curiously, the only previous occasion it happened was, again, in a closely contested series between Australia and India, in 1977-78. Then, however, Australia were severely hampered by the absence of several top players due to the Kerry Packer exodus: Dennis Lillee, Max Walker and Len Pascoe were all unavailable, and their replacements, apart from the fearsome Jeff Thomson, were untried trundlers like Wayne Clark and Sam Gannon.

As in the 2003-04 series, there were plenty of five-fors for Indian bowlers in that series too: Bishan Bedi had three of them and Madan Lal one, but the matchwinning performances came primarily from another legspinner. BS Chandrasekhar, like Anil Kumble in the recently concluded series, had three hauls of five or more wickets, including six-fors in each innings of the Melbourne Test, which India won by a whopping 222 runs. Unlike in the 2003-04 series, though, the Australian bowlers were more effective than their Indian counterparts, as is evident from their lower runs-per-wicket figure.

Home series when Australia's bowlers didn't achieve a single five-for
Opp 5-fors
Aus bowlers' runs/wkt
Opp bowlers runs/wkt
India 1977-78
India 2003-04

* * * * * *

Double declaration
More encomiums for India's batsmen: at Sydney, they lost only nine wickets in the entire Test, and declared in both innings, a feat which had been achieved on only six previous occasions against Australia. The last team to inflict this humiliation on Australia had been New Zealand, two seasons ago at Perth, but to find the previous instance, one would have to go back to the mid-80s, to an age when Allan Border led Australia and when England used to have a solid hold over their arch rivals.

Interestingly, Australia have managed to hold on to a draw in six of those seven matches, the only exception being in the 1930-31 Test which West Indies won by 30 runs. Not only did West Indies beat Australia, but George Headley won a personal battle with Don Bradman too - Headley scored a hundred in the first innings, while Bradman tallied just 43 for the match, including a second-innings duck.

Two declarations in a single Test versus Australia
Venue & Year
1st inns total
2nd inns total
match result
India Sydney, 2003-04
New Zealand Perth, 2001-02
England Perth, 1986-87
England Trent Bridge, 1964
England Trent Bridge, 1956
England Old Trafford, 1934
West Indies Sydney, 1930-31
WI won

* * * * * *

Batting bonanzas
All those runs scored by both India and Australia meant that the series was the fourth-best in terms of runs per wicket. Among all series consisting of at least three Tests, India's tour to England in 1990 - when Mohammad Azharuddin wove his magic with some sumptuous strokeplay and Graham Gooch smashed a triple-hundred and a century in the Lord's Test - was the one in which bat dominated ball the most. Next in line is Australia's tour to India in 1986-87, made famous by the tied Test at Madras, but also the only series in which Kapil Dev went wicketless. India feature in four of the five most batsman-dominated series, a clear indication of their strong batting and weak bowling.

Highest runs per wicket in a series
Series Tests Runs Wickets Average
Ind in Eng, 1990
Aus in Ind, 1986-87
SA in NZ, 1998-99
Ind in Aus, 2003-04
Ind in Pak, 1978-79

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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