October 10, 2008

The Ganguly story in numbers

After his 12-year international career, the stats indicate that Sourav Ganguly has largely fulfilled the potential that was obvious in his Test debut


With more than 18,000 international runs under his belt, Sourav Ganguly is among the finest cricketers to play for India © AFP
 

When Sourav Ganguly first made his presence felt in international cricket, with two hundreds in successive Tests in England, there was every indication that Indian cricket had unveiled a batting giant. Twelve years later the numbers indicate that he has largely fulfilled his potential: as a one-day player he can easily be counted among the best, and though his Test record isn't as glittering, it's still one that he can be very satisfied about. Add his dynamic captaincy, which brought India unprecedented Test success, and it's clear that Ganguly has had an international career he can be mighty satisfied about.

If there's some regret, it'll be that in Test cricket he didn't quite shine with the same incandescence as two other big names he has always been associated with - Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. In his first 30 Tests, there was every indication that Ganguly was pushing towards greatness in Tests too, as he averaged more than 50 in his first three years. In the next 20 games, though, he slumped so badly that his overall average plummeted to 41, which is where it plateaued through the rest of his career.

Break-up of Ganguly's Test career
Period Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
First 30 Tests 50 2281 50.68 7/ 11
Next 20 Tests 36 874 27.31 0/ 4
Next 59 Tests 94 3733 42.42 8/ 19
Career 180 6888 41.74 15/ 34

Around the time his Test form dipped, however, his performances in ODIs soared: between October 1999 and June 2002, Ganguly scored 11 centuries and 18 fifties in 76 games, averaging more than 49 at a strike-rate of nearly 80. After that, though, the numbers tapered off, with only four centuries in his last 116 matches, and none since the 2003 World Cup.

Break-up of Ganguly's ODI career
Period Runs Average Srike rate 100s/ 50s
First 119 games 4255 40.52 69.81 7/ 28
Next 76 games 3446 49.22 79.71 11/ 18
Last 116 games 3662 35.90 73.26 4/ 26
Career 11,363 41.02 73.70 22/ 72

The ODI match-winner
When Ganguly scored runs in ODIs, India usually ended up on the winning side. Batting at the top of the order was a huge advantage, and Ganguly made it count, averaging more than 55 in ODIs that India won. Those are numbers that put him in elite company: among batsmen who scored at least 2500 runs in wins, only five have a higher average. Eighteen of his 22 centuries came in victories, which converts into an impressive percentage of 81.82.

Batsmen with highest averages in wins in ODIs since 1995 (Qual: at least 2500 runs in wins)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Brian Lara 99 4701 66.21 90.84 12/ 29
Michael Bevan 144 4190 65.46 75.98 5/ 31
Sachin Tendulkar 159 8163 60.46 91.27 27/ 39
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 97 3575 57.66 76.70 5/ 27
Mohammad Yousuf 157 6218 57.57 78.57 14/ 40
Sourav Ganguly 149 6938 55.06 77.87 18/ 41
Nathan Astle 92 4254 54.53 77.41 14/ 26
Saeed Anwar 92 4308 54.53 84.57 9/ 30

Last-innings survivor
His Test stats are less impressive, but there's one area where he has topped Tendulkar, Gundappa Viswanath, VVS Laxman and Mohammad Azharuddin. In the fourth innings, Ganguly averages 36.43 - not a particularly remarkable stat in itself, but quite notable when compared to the figures that the other Indians have posted. Tendulkar only averages 33.12 in the last innings, and Laxman 30.04. Among Indian batsmen, Ganguly's numbers are bettered only by Sunil Gavaskar and Dravid.

India's batsmen in fourth innings of Tests (Qual: at least 20 innings)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sunil Gavaskar 33 1398 58.25 4/ 8
Rahul Dravid 42 1288 47.70 1/ 9
Sourav Ganguly 31 838 36.43 1/ 3
Gundappa Viswanath 24 668 33.40 1/ 4
Sachin Tendulkar 44 1060 33.12 2/ 3
Mohammad Azharuddin 22 610 32.10 2/ 1
VVS Laxman 26 631 30.04 0/ 4
Dilip Vengsarkar 25 613 29.19 1/ 3

Partners in run-making
In his first Test, Ganguly stitched together partnerships of 64 and 94 with Tendulkar and Dravid, and these two batsmen remained his most prolific partners. Of the 38 century partnerships he was involved in, 21 came with either Tendulkar or Dravid.

Ganguly's partnerships with the big three in Tests
Player Innings Runs Average stand 100/ 50 stands
Sachin Tendulkar 68 3990 61.38 11/ 16
Rahul Dravid 67 3245 53.19 10/ 12
VVS Laxman 38 1570 41.31 5/ 6

The story is similar in ODIs, though the numbers are even more impressive. The average partnership with Dravid was slightly higher, but with Tendulkar he amassed 8227 runs, which is easily a record for most runs by a pair. For the first wicket the two added 6609 runs, another record.

Ganguly's partnerships with Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag in ODIs
Player Innings Runs Average stand 100s/  50s
Rahul Dravid 88 4363 50.14 11/ 18
Sachin Tendulkar 176 8227 47.55 26/ 29
Virender Sehwag 65 2606 42.03 7/ 11

King of spin
Ganguly penchant for slow bowling, especially of the left-arm variety, is well known, and the table below bears out just how good a player of spinners he was. He averaged more than 48 against them in Tests since 2002, and almost 65 against left-armers. That figure would have been even higher had Brad Hogg not dismissed him four times when India toured Australia in 2007-08.

Ganguly against different bowling styles in Tests (since Jan 1, 2002)
Bowling style Runs Balls Dismissals Average
Pace 2295 4185 58 39.57
Spin 1403 2573 29 48.38
Left-arm spin 713 1198 11 64.81

Leading leader
Ganguly did plenty as a batsman, but arguably his contribution as captain was even greater. His record of 21 wins and 13 defeats in 49 Tests gives him a win-loss ratio of 1.61, which is the best among all Indian captains who have led in at least 25 Tests. Dravid is next with a ratio of 1.33.

Even more impressive, though, is Ganguly's record in overseas Tests: in 28 games he led India to 11 wins, which is almost 37% of all overseas victories by the team. (Click here and scroll to the bottom to see the entire list and here for his record as ODI captain.)

Comparing India's captains (Qual: led in at least 25 Tests)
Captain Tests captained Won Lost Win-loss ratio
Sourav Ganguly 49 21 13 1.61
Rahul Dravid 25 8 6 1.33
Sunil Gavaskar 47 9 8 1.12
Mohammad Azharuddin 47 14 14 1.00
Kapil Dev 34 4 7 0.57
MAK Pataudi 40 9 19 0.47
Sachin Tendulkar 25 4 9 0.44

The one glaring black mark in his stats is his record in both forms of the game against the leading team in the world: in ODIs against Australia he averages 25.43, with one century in 23 innings; in Tests the average is 31.73, with one hundred in 36 innings. He won't get an opportunity to rectify his ODI numbers, but over the next month he'll hope he can improve his Test stats significantly.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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