Livewire in a graveyard
Quiz question: What feat has Rahul Dravid achieved in Dambulla that no one else has managed? Read on for the answer.
When Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan came together in the second ODI of the Sri Lanka-India series in Dambulla, it seemed - very briefly - that they might conjure a repeat act of their performance in the Asia Cup final last month. On that occasion too, India had nailed four early wickets, only for Jayasuriya and Dilshan to put together 131 for the fifth wicket in less than 24 overs to completely negate India's early advantage. There were a couple of crucial differences, though: Jayasuriya had already got a start even as wickets fell at the other end, and the Asia Cup final was being played at the the most batsman-friendly ODI venue in the world since 2000, Karachi. Dambulla, on the other hand, has been a dream venue for the bowlers. As it turned out, Jayasuriya fell soon to Zaheer Khan, Dilshan followed, Sri Lanka recovered somewhat to post 142, and even that paltry target tested India fully.
Seventeen wickets for 285 is quite a shocker even by Dambulla standards, but the conditions there have consistently tested the techniques and temperament of batsmen. In 25 ODIs, 391 wickets have fallen at an average of 23.50 per dismissal and 4.06 runs per over, making it easily the lowest-scoring among venues that have hosted at least 15 matches since 2000. Only 56 sixes have been struck, which converts to a poor average of 2.24 per game. In 50 innings, only five times have teams managed to top 250, while 200 has been exceeded on 13 other occasions. On the other hand, teams batting first have been bowled out for less than 150 six times. The lowest winning total in a 50-over game since 2000 was also achieved here, when New Zealand made just 156 for 8, and then restricted Sri Lanka to 147 in 2003, with Daniel Vettori returning incredible figures of 4 for 14 from ten overs. (Click here for the list of scores in all ODIs in Dambulla.)
The numbers for Jayasuriya tell the story: in 17 innings here he has managed a solitary half-century, an average of 24.26 and a strike rate of 75.36, both of which are well below his career numbers.
|Venue||ODIs||Runs per wkt||Runs per over|
|Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium||25||23.50||4.06|
|Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo||25||26.08||4.51|
|Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica||17||28.22||4.55|
|Gymkhana Club Ground, Nairobi||34||26.95||4.59|
|Premadasa Stadium, Colombo||46||28.02||4.60|
|Sharjah CA Stadium||45||28.60||4.65|
|Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain||27||26.55||4.66|
|Newlands, Cape Town||21||27.04||4.66|
|Harare Sports Club||54||28.87||4.71|
|St George's Park, Port Elizabeth||19||28.96||4.71|
Mahela Jayawardene had mentioned before the first ODI of the series that playing under lights had been a significant factor for the low scores here. "When you are playing day-and-night games, the lights contribute a bit. These are day games, and the day games we have had here have been pretty much good scores," he had said. A look at the stats reveals something entirely different, though: day games have been terribly low-scoring, with an average run-rate of 3.75 per over, which converts into a 50-over total of 187.5. This is the first time in four years that the venue is hosting day games, and while the two previous matches here produced reasonable totals, those were the exceptions rather than the norm.
|ODIs||Runs per wicket||Runs per over|
Which brings us to the answer to the quiz question. Against UAE in the 2004 Asia Cup, Dravid scored 104, which remains the only century in an ODI at this venue in 25 matches. Dravid's numbers here, in fact, suggest that the pitch here is one that suits the grafters rather than the flashy strokeplayers: he has scored three half-centuries and a hundred in five innings, and his average of 73 is easily the highest (his strike-rate is impressive too), while Jayawardene and Marvan Atapattu have got runs here as well. Neither of them, though, has got a three-figure score here. In Karachi, on the other hand, 19 hundreds have been scored in 21 matches since 2000.
|Venue||ODIs||Batsman runs per wkt||Ave batsman strike rate||Centuries||ODIs per century|
|Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium||25||21.23||60.58||1||25.00|
|Westpac Stadium, Wellington||15||26.77||72.98||2||7.50|
|Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain||27||24.31||70.55||4||6.75|
|St George's Park, Port Elizabeth||19||27.35||73.51||4||4.75|
|Beausejour Stadium, St Lucia||16||32.76||77.07||4||4.00|
|Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka||29||28.48||72.13||8||3.63|
|Eden Park, Auckland||20||25.95||72.80||6||3.33|
|Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo||29||32.03||77.36||9||3.22|
|Sinhalese Sports Cub, Colombo||25||23.76||67.72||8||3.13|
It's hardly surprising that the top-order of teams have struggled here, averaging less than 24, and scoring at 60 runs per 100 balls.
|Venue||Innings||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
|Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium||336||23.42||59.98||1/ 34|
|Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo||308||26.60||68.87||8/ 34|
|Edgbaston, Birmingham||192||27.31||71.86||2/ 25|
|Gymkhana Club Ground, Nairobi||438||27.65||70.73||11/ 53|
|Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain||352||27.79||71.77||4/ 59|
|St George's Park, Port Elizabeth||253||28.83||72.43||4/ 42|
In both matches of the current series, teams have struggled for runs in the first 15 overs, something that has been the norm at this ground. The average runs per over in the first 15 is a meagre 3.15, which is easily the lowest among all venues.
|Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium||48||110||24.28||3.15|
|Newlands, Cape Town||30||66||27.21||4.00|
|Eden Park, Auckland||28||65||26.07||4.03|
|Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica||27||58||28.44||4.07|
|Gymkhana Club Ground, Nairobi||38||106||21.99||4.13|
|St George's Park, Port Elizabeth||31||80||24.81||4.27|
|Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo||29||61||30.50||4.29|
|Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka||39||78||32.43||4.32|
|Harare Sports Club||68||133||33.39||4.38|
|Premadasa Stadium, Colombo||63||137||29.91||4.42|
|Sharjah CA Stadium||34||81||27.94||4.44|
|The Gabba, Brisbane||33||67||32.19||4.45|
One would expect the slow nature of the pitch to assist the spinners more than the fast bowlers, but the stats show that the pace bowlers have handled the conditions well too. Pakistan's Mohammad Sami hasn't done well at most grounds he has played in, but Dambulla is an exception, where his ten wickets have cost him just 16.40 runs each.
Murali has obviously relished the conditions, but among the overseas spinners, Vettori has been a star, averaging 11.70 for his ten wickets at an economy rate of 2.43. (Click here for the stats of the fast bowlers, and here for the spinners.)
|Wickets||Average||Economy rate||Strike rate|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.