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

Allrounder Afridi's stunning run

Shahid Afridi has always been known for his occasional bursts of explosiveness, but in 2007 he has been far more immense, with both bat and ball

S Rajesh

October 26, 2007

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Shahid Afridi: in outstanding form over the last ten months © AFP

His ability to bludgeon the ball out of the ground isn't in question, and neither is his ability to bowl a few overs of tight legspin and winkle out crucial wickets. Shahid Afridi has always been known for his occasional bursts of explosiveness, but in 2007 he has been immense with both bat and ball. The Faisalabad ODI against South Africa saw him at his irresistible best - his 3 for 37 and 18-ball 32 won him the Man-of-the-Match award - and continued the rich vein of form that has helped him score 277 runs at an average of almost 40, and take 16 wickets at 18.31 apiece from nine one-day internationals this year.

Afridi's career summary shows just how special 2007 has been. Compare it with his performances in the previous year and the contrast is even starker: in 2006 the runs dried up completely - 15 innings fetched a total of 115, with a highest of 23 and nine single-digit scores. His batting average was an embarrassing 7.66, while his 14 wickets came at a rate of more than 40.

This year, though, the story has been completely different. Not only has he found a way to score runs and take wickets, he has done so without compromising on either the strike-rate or the economy-rate - he has scored his runs at nearly 185 per 100 balls, and conceded just four per over with the ball.

Afridi in each year since his ODI debut
Year ODIs Runs Average Strike rate Wkts Average Econ rate
1996 16 288 22.15 149.22 16 35.81 4.23
1997 35 867 26.27 106.64 17 66.47 4.84
1998 20 449 22.45 101.12 12 61.33 4.99
1999 22 465 22.14 85.95 11 35.63 4.82
2000 27 604 24.16 82.51 22 28.04 4.59
2001 16 455 30.33 106.55 17 27.29 4.57
2002 37 743 21.85 112.74 33 33.18 4.21
2003 3 16 5.33 76.19 3 48.00 5.43
2004 15 238 21.63 147.82 22 20.27 4.62
2005 25 640 27.82 157.63 26 33.34 4.76
2006 18 115 7.66 83.33 14 40.14 4.59
2007 9 277 39.57 184.66 16 18.31 4.01

Afridi's legspin has always been the more consistent part of his game, and the numbers show just how effective a bowling option he has been. In ODIs in which he has bowled six or more overs, he has gone at more than seven an over only eight times, while 18 times he has restricted the batsmen to a run-rate of less than three.

Mostly, though, he hasn't found the wickets so easy to come by. In 2007 that has changed as well: among bowlers who have taken at least 15 ODI wickets this year, only the redoubtable Muttiah Muralitharan has a better average. Equally impressive is Afridi's economy-rate: among the bowlers in the table below, only three, Chaminda Vaas, Muralitharan and Shane Bond, have conceded fewer runs per over.

Best ODI bowlers in 2007 (at least 15 wickets)
Bowler ODIs Wickets Average Econ rate
Muttiah Muralitharan 13 26 14.46 3.90
Shahid Afridi 9 16 18.31 4.01
Glenn McGrath 20 39 18.92 4.48
Iftikhar Anjum 8 15 19.00 4.38
Shane Bond 19 33 19.66 3.98
Farveez Maharoof 22 35 20.57 4.56
Dilhara Fernando 23 38 20.92 4.56
Andrew Flintoff 22 36 22.16 4.29
Only includes bowlers from Test-playing teams

With bat in hand, Afridi has been at his most exciting best this year. He didn't get many in the ICC World Twenty20, but in ODIs he has carted 26 fours and 17 sixes in the 150 deliveries he has faced. That translates into an average of three-and-a-half deliveries per boundary, which explains why he is such a huge draw with the crowd. In fact, the boundary ratio is his best in a single calendar year, though he'll obviously need to maintain these numbers over the remaining seven matches this year.

Afridi's four most destructive years with the bat in ODIs
Year Runs/ balls Strike rate 4s/ 6s Balls per boundary
2007 277/ 150 184.66 26/ 17 3.49
2005 640/ 406 157.63 56/ 37 4.37
1996 288/ 193 149.22 26/ 18 4.39
2004 238/ 161 147.82 21/ 15 4.47

All these numbers also mean Afridi is among the top allrounders this year. In terms of the difference between batting and bowling averages, only Jacques Kallis has done better - his batting average is nearly 30 more than the bowling one.

Best ODI allrounders in 2007 (at least 200 runs and 10 wkts)
Player ODIs Bat ave Bowl ave Difference
Jacques Kallis 22 64.46 34.61 29.85
Shahid Afridi 9 39.57 18.31 21.26
Scott Styris 15 56.60 41.90 14.70
Jacob Oram 15 53.25 40.36 12.89
Shaun Pollock 24 38.70 31.61 7.09
Craig McMillan 21 37.13 31.80 5.33
Shane Watson 13 53.40 48.80 4.60
Elton Chigumbura 13 34.40 32.64 1.76
Andrew Flintoff 22 22.76 22.16 0.60

In his 243-match ODI career, Afridi has won 18 Man-of-the-Match awards, which translates to one every 13.5 games; this year, though, he has already bagged two in nine: apart from the Faisalabad game, he also won the prize for his unbeaten 73 from 34 balls against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. At this rate he has at least one more MoM performance coming up before the year is done.

S Rajesh is stats editor of 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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