The Friday column October 27, 2006

Team India's reliance on Dravid ... and Tendulkar

India's slump in ODI form over the last six months has had many experts touting various explanations, but perhaps the biggest one has been Rahul Dravid's run-drought



Rahul Dravid the ODI batsman has been struggling, and not surprisingly, the Indian team's fortunes have dipped too © Getty Images

India's slump in ODI form over the last six months has had many experts touting various explanations, but whichever way you look at it, the one inescapable fact they come back to is the collective batting failure of a star-studded line-up. The failures of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have hurt the team, but the single-biggest factor which has hurt them more than any other is the sudden slump in form of their captain and their most vital cog in the batting wheel, Rahul Dravid.

Since scoring a century in guiding India to victory in the first ODI on their tour to the West Indies, Dravid has scored 145 runs in 11 innings, with a highest of 49. India have gone on to win just two of those matches.

Over the last four years and a bit, Dravid has shown the kind of versatility that has enabled him to translate his success in Tests into the shorter version of the game as well. Since the tour to England in 2002, he averages 42 in all ODIs, but a staggering 59.60 in wins, pointing to the fact that when India win, Dravid usually has a huge role to play. Combine that with his average in defeats during this period, and it's clear that Dravid's performances have had a huge impact on India's ODI fortunes.

Dravid in ODIs since the NatWest Series in 2002
ODIs Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Matches won 66 2682 59.60 4/ 26
Matches lost 55 1446 27.80 1/ 8
No result 7 101 33.67 0/ 1
All ODIs during this period 128 4229 42.29 5/ 35

In fact, Dravid's average in wins is outstanding even when compared with the other leading batsmen in the world during this period - among batsmen with at least 1500 winning runs, only Ramnaresh Sarwan has done better. West Indies, Pakistan and South Africa are the only teams with two representatives on that list, while it might surprise some to note that the only Australian in the top ten is not Ricky Ponting, but Andrew Symonds.

It's also interesting that a couple of batting heavyweights don't figure in the table below - Ponting's average of 48.42 only puts him in 15th place, while Sachin Tendulkar is seven places further down with an average of 44.52.

Best ODI batsmen in victories since the NatWest Series 2002 (at least 1500 runs in wins)
Batsmen ODIs Runs Average Scoring rate 100s/ 50s
Ramnaresh Sarwan 44 1719 68.76 81.23 2/ 13
Rahul Dravid 66 2682 59.60 77.80 4/ 26
Mohammad Yousuf 65 2741 59.58 82.58 5/ 20
Brian Lara 37 1658 59.21 91.68 4/ 10
Inzamam-ul-Haq 55 1775 57.25 88.75 0/ 15
Boeta Dippenaar 42 1710 55.16 72.64 2/ 14
Graeme Smith 47 2269 54.02 83.02 6/ 14
Marcus Trescothick 35 1635 52.74 92.26 6/ 9
Andrew Symonds 80 2582 52.69 93.01 5/ 15
Marvan Atapattu 57 2135 52.07 72.91 4/ 14

It's no-one's contention, though, that these four years have been Tendulkar's best ones. His peak was clearly much earlier, and though he played a few sizzling knocks during this period - most notably in the 2003 World Cup - he just didn't do it consistently enough to be among the top batsmen. Moreover, with Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and the a few others contributing more often - until the recent slump this season - Tendulkar's contributions haven't been as critical.

There was a period not very long back, though - in the mid and late 1990s - when Tendulkar was at the height of his powers and scored prolifically in victories, even more so than Dravid's contributions of late. In the four-year period between 1996 and 1999, Tendulkar averaged a whopping 76 when India won, getting as many as 28 fifty-plus scores - including 16 centuries - in 55 victories, which compares favourably with Dravid's 30 such scores in 66 matches. And as the summary of his winning performances show, he got his runs against the best teams as well. The problem, though, was when he failed, as it is for India with Dravid now.

Tendulkar in ODIs between 1996 and 1999
ODIs Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Matches won 55 3364 76.45 16/ 12
Matches lost 61 1762 28.88 4/ 9
Matches tied/ NR 11 233 33.28 0/ 1
All matches 127 5359 47.84 20/ 22

The cream of the crop
With the ICC awards only a little more than a week away, it's time to look at the numbers of the players who've made it into the shortlist. The tables below look at the numbers of the players shortlisted during the period under consideration - August 1, 2005 to August 8, 2006.

The batting and bowling lists also include averages excluding the minnows. Interestingly, three of the four players in the ODI shortlist have done better against quality opposition. Among the Test nominees, Shane Warne too has performed better against the top teams - he wasn't at his best in the two Tests against Bangladesh. Muttiah Muralitharan took 30 of his 108 wickets in four Tests against Bangladesh, but his average against the top teams is still better than Warne's.

Nominees for ODI Player of the Year
ODIs Runs Average scoring rate 100s/ 50s Ave excl.minnows
Michael Hussey 25 769 64.08 100.26 0/ 6 65.00
Mahela Jayawardene 43 1466 41.89 87.89 2/ 13 42.10
Ricky Ponting 20 921 48.47 93.22 2/ 7 50.11
Yuvraj Singh 35 1496 57.54 88.73 5/ 8 52.92

Test Players of the Year - Batsmen
Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s Ave excl minnows
Mohammad Yousuf 10 1337 78.65 5/ 3 78.65
Ricky Ponting 16 1791 68.88 9/ 7 66.67
Test Players of the Year - Bowlers
Tests Wickets Average Strike rate Ave excl minnows
Muttiah Muralitharan 15 108 19.37 42.24 21.47
Shane Warne 16 96 24.33 48.50 21.47

Emerging Players - Batsmen (Tests & ODIs combined)
Matches Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Alastair Cook 10 718 51.28 3/ 2
Ian Bell 23 1325 42.74 4/ 7

Emerging Players - Bowlers (Tests & ODIs combined)
Wickets Average Strike rate Economy rate
Mohammad Asif 36 22.05 39.1 3.38
Monty Panesar 31 30.12 71.8 2.51

Cricketer of the Year (Tests and ODIs combined)
Matches Runs Average 100s/ 50
Michael Hussey 36 1908 70.66 4/ 10
Ricky Ponting 36 2711 60.24 11/ 14
Mohammad Yousuf 29 1925 58.33 5/ 9

Cricketer of the Year (Tests and ODIs combined)
Wickets Average Strike rate Economy rate
Muttiah Muralitharan 152 23.56 43.6 3.23

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo. For some of the stats, he was helped by Arun Gopalakrishnan.

Comments