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

Pakistan's bowlers bail out their batsmen

Pakistan have won more ODIs than they've lost over the last couple of years, and much of it is due to their bowlers, especially the spinners

S Rajesh

June 15, 2012

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Misbah-ul-Haq plays one square on the off side, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 15, 2012
Misbah-ul-Haq averages 43.16 in ODIs against the top sides in the last two years, but at a strike rate of less than 66 © AFP
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Over the last two years (July 2010 onwards), Pakistan have won 33 ODIs and lost 19. By all accounts that's an excellent record - only three teams have a better win-loss record during this period, and even there, Australia's ratio is better only by 0.02. Admittedly, Pakistan's ratio has also improved because of the number of matches they've played against Zimbabwe and the non-Test-playing nations during this period - nine games, all of which they've won. However, even excluding those games Pakistan have done pretty well, winning 24 and losing 19: they're one of only four sides who've won more than they've lost during this period.

It's a credit to Pakistan's bowlers that the team has such an impressive win-loss ratio, for their batsmen haven't done a whole lot to justify that record: in terms of averages and strike rates, Pakistan rank seventh among all teams (excluding matches against Zimbabwe and other non-Test-playing sides).

It's true that Pakistan's batting has been pretty disappointing, but it's also important to note that the team has played a fair number of games in conditions that aren't favourable to quick scoring. Out of 45 matches, they've played 14 in the UAE and six in Sri Lanka, countries where high-scoring games haven't been the norm. Also, they haven't played any match in Pakistan during this period and only one in India, countries where the pitches and conditions favour big scores. (Click here for a break-up of Pakistan's matches.) A break-up of matches by host country also shows that Sri Lanka and UAE are among the relatively tougher venues for batsmen in ODIs.

Even with that caveat, though, Misbah-ul-Haq will be pretty disappointed with how his top order has fared recently. One of the below-par aspects has been their inability to convert starts into centuries: unlike Indian batsmen, who've scored 22 hundreds in their 86 scores of 50-plus, or England and Sri Lanka, who also have pretty high ratios, Pakistan's batsmen have converted only seven of their 53 scores of 50-plus into hundreds.

ODI stats v the top teams since July 2010
Team Matches W/L Bat Ave Run rate 100s/ 50s
South Africa 26 16/ 10 35.84 5.31 8/ 40
India 54 32/ 18 35.23 5.48 22/ 64
Australia 43 25/ 16 33.33 5.28 11/ 52
England 40 18/ 19 31.86 5.38 12/ 44
Sri Lanka 54 23/ 26 30.21 4.98 14/ 58
West Indies 31 10/ 19 27.69 4.75 4/ 29
Pakistan 45 24/ 19 27.58 4.87 7/ 46
Bangladesh 24 9/ 15 25.55 4.59 2/ 29
Zimbabwe 25 5/ 20 25.10 4.52 4/ 25
New Zealand 27 5/ 20 24.87 4.90 3/ 27

During these 24 months, Pakistan have managed only one 300-plus score against one of the top teams - 329 for 6 against India in the Asia Cup in Mirpur earlier this year. Ironically, they ended up losing that match, thanks to Virat Kohli's stunning 183. Incidentally, their second-highest score during this period has been 294, and they lost that match too, during the NatWest Series against England in 2010. During this period there have been 32 scores of 300 or more in ODIs against the top sides, with India hogging the majority of those: they've done it ten times, five of which have been at home and three more in Bangladesh. South Africa and Sri Lanka have both achieved it five times, but interestingly, all five of Sri Lanka's efforts have been in overseas games, which indicates how tough it is to score quickly in Sri Lanka.

Australia, England and New Zealand have each topped 300 three times, but Pakistan have only managed it once. The stats of their batsmen over the last two years shows why run-scoring has been a bit of a struggle: four of the seven batsmen who have faced 500-plus deliveries have strike rates of less than 75. Two of them - their captain, Misbah, and Asad Shafiq, have scoring rates of less than 70, while Younis Khan only barely exceeds that mark. The one specialist batsman who scores quickly is Umar Akmal, but even he hasn't always scored runs consistently.

Among the seven batsmen listed below, Mohammad Hafeez is the only one to score a century - he has notched up three of them, against New Zealand, West Indies and India. (The others to score ODI hundreds for Pakistan against the top sides during this period are Ahmed Shehzad, Abdul Razzaq and Nasir Jamshed.)

Pakistan batsmen v the top teams since July 2010 (Qual: 500 balls faced)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Mohammad Hafeez 45 1493 34.72 73.83 3/ 8
Umar Akmal 40 1055 34.03 83.79 0/ 7
Misbah-ul-Haq 36 1036 43.16 65.69 0/ 8
Shahid Afridi 45 807 22.41 118.50 0/ 3
Younis Khan 33 690 23.79 70.84 0/ 5
Asad Shafiq 25 605 27.50 67.07 0/ 4
Kamran Akmal 16 477 34.07 81.81 0/ 3

Not surprisingly, the list of slow-scoring batsmen in ODIs over these two years is dominated by Pakistan: four of their players feature in the top ten. Their captain is in second place, with West Indies' Ramnaresh Sarwan the only one to score slower than him.

Batsmen with the lowest strike rates in ODIs since July 2010 (Qual: 800 balls faced)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Ramnaresh Sarwan 15 487 40.58 59.97 0/ 5
Misbah-ul-Haq 36 1036 43.16 65.69 0/ 8
Darren Bravo 27 655 28.47 66.29 0/ 5
Asad Shafiq 25 605 27.50 67.07 0/ 4
Tatenda Taibu 25 651 27.12 69.32 0/ 6
Younis Khan 33 690 23.79 70.84 0/ 5
Upul Tharanga 44 1290 34.86 71.42 3/ 8
Graeme Smith 22 754 35.90 72.43 1/ 4
Mohammad Hafeez 45 1493 34.72 73.83 3/ 8
Ian Bell 27 637 27.69 74.59 0/ 3

Despite their fairly ordinary batting stats, Pakistan have won more than their fair share of matches, thanks to their outstanding bowling attack. During these two years, Pakistan have taken their wickets at 30.62 runs each, and are one of only three teams to concede less than five per over.

The biggest stars for them have been the spinners. Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Hafeez have achieved superb numbers during this period, taking full advantage of conditions in the UAE and the subcontinent, where Pakistan have played a fair number of their matches. Among them, they've covered most bases. Hafeez bowls with the new ball and invariably chokes the runs - he has an economy rate of 3.73 against the top teams during this period - while Ajmal is the wicket-taker in the middle overs. Afridi has shown superb consistency with the ball too, regularly putting in economical spells and chipping in with useful wickets. Together those three have combined to take 146 wickets at an average of 28.79 and an economy rate of 4.25. Thanks to them, Pakistan's spinners have taken more wickets than their fast bowlers and have a far better economy rate as well. Now, if only they could find some such stalwarts in their batting line-up.

Team-wise bowling stats v top sides since July 2010
Team ODIs Average Econ rate Pace - wkt, ave Econ rate Spin - wkts, ave Econ rate
South Africa 26 24.97 4.89 146, 24.54 4.80 60, 32.48 4.74
Australia 43 28.25 5.02 243, 27.72 4.91 75, 34.81 4.88
Pakistan 45 30.62 4.90 128, 32.73 5.45 156, 29.82 4.22
West Indies 31 30.70 4.96 128, 35.09 5.18 64, 29.28 4.28
India 54 31.48 5.31 205, 33.22 5.43 170, 34.46 4.96
Sri Lanka 54 31.58 5.10 226, 31.69 5.11 99, 40.08 4.78
England 40 31.98 5.28 203, 33.71 5.21 72, 36.81 4.96
New Zealand 27 32.22 5.08 128, 31.76 5.23 34, 43.67 4.40
Bangladesh 24 32.95 5.28 63, 37.31 5.81 93, 33.13 4.78
Zimbabwe 25 45.09 5.55 78, 43.05 6.01 48, 61.43 4.95

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by jr2012 on (June 17, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

Pakistan is over-rated ODI side, they are own par with the current England ODI team. They only play well when conditions and scenario suit them. Take them out of their comfort zone and they fail miserably.

Posted by khurramsch on (June 17, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

very poor by pakistan. Sl bowled tight but there was nothing in pitch & special in bowling. It was more than a self destruct thing as usual 13/7 no 1 can acheive this collapse. & this time there was no score board pressure.younas should be rested. Umar akmal also under scrutiny. he hasnt scored much in recent past. hafez is also not in good shape. & on top of that their fielding is going down affter new fielding coach. missing 3/4 run outs each game. they cant hit wickets for once. Gul's on off situation is now more regular. 1 game on then off. also pak need a batting medium pace allrounder.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

I think this is dream Pakistan team. 1.IMRAN NAZIR 2.NAZIR JAMSHED 3.AHAMED SHEHZAD 4.UMAR AKMAL 5.MOHAMED HAFEEZ(C) 6.ABDUL RAZZAK 7.SHAHID AFRIDI 8.KAMRAN AKMAL 9.SHOHAIL TANVIR 10.UMAR GUL 11. SAEED AJMAL. This is very balance team and better than current team.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

4 batsmen ( hafeez, mishbah, younis, asad shafiq ) in top 10 "Batsmen with the lowest strike rates in ODIs since July 2010" list. only one from zimbabwe, no bagladesh batsman in this list. This list shows , Pakistan has world worst ODI batting line-up. Is not it?. How long depends on bowling. Team should be balance. All the teams are got lot of aggressive players except pakistan. pakistan wasting good players like imran nazir, ahamed shehzad, fawad alam...... . Pakistan team itself knows if any team scored 250 runs or more against them, can not win that match. they always try to limit below 250 and chase and win it. This is very strange tactic.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2012, 22:14 GMT)

Its really disappointing the way Pakistan batting is going these days. I think some sincere changes are required at this time. Younis Khan should give up ODIs.... Afridi and Wicket-keeper's problem should be sort out quickly....

Posted by cisco420 on (June 16, 2012, 21:01 GMT)

Asad Shafiq should be in all three formats with Azher.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

Missed a strong fact that Pakistan played all their matches outside the country, which if you compare with other teams let say India, they are far behind Pakistan. Pakistan's batting main problem is, they play very defensive with inconsistent batting order. Pakistan need an attacking batting line-up like say include Imran Nazir in opening, shift Umar Akmal to top order, include Hammad Azam in middle order. Its no doubt that Pakistan have batting talent but its up to the management how they use them.

Posted by Naveed85 on (June 16, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

really disappointing stats by the batsmen especially when they played 9 matches against non test playing nations and more than five against Bangladesh

Posted by   on (June 16, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

Pakistan always had and have brilliant bowling attack be it in the times of Imran,Sarfaraz Nawaz ..Wasim-waqar and even today in the times of Gul-Saeed Ajmal..they always had-have some class bowlers..but i really dont understand what has happened to their batting..in past they had class palyers like Saeed Anwar,Inzy and even after then YOunis and Yousuf were brilliant..but now bating crop is not that good..Misbah is capable of hitting the bowl out of the park but he has changed his game a lot..hopebrilliant performances in bowling will motivate them to do well in bating as well...!

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (June 16, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

Two biggest problems of pakistan,s are that they couldnt find replacement of Razzaq and Kamran Akmal especially in limited over cricket. PCB should keep them in side and try find sum replacements as early as they can. Nasir jamshed, Asad shafiq and sami should be regular features of team. Haris sohail should be given a proper chance. That guy looks to me a talent and his record is good so far as well.

Posted by Sinhaya on (June 16, 2012, 2:58 GMT)

Usman Salahuddin, Hammad Azam and Babar Azam are the solution to Pakistan's batting flaws.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 23:41 GMT)

@Deepanjan datta... Good observation. Inzi was a classact.Only now when there is an absence of a player of his calibre, He is strongly missed. I really liked your comment until you made this horrible statement "Being from India, I was supposed to hate them".

Posted by PAK-92 on (June 15, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

Surely Misbah and Younis will not be good enough to play in the 2015 WC, as they wiill be too old. We need to start fielding a younger, fresher and hungrier team who can handle bouncy pitches in Australia and New Zealand. We need to drop these old, slow players after the Australia series, and start rebuilding. Yes we might lose a few games at the start but we can start building a team for the future, as we have good enough players to do so. Also Hafeez needs to drop down the order. And those calling for Kamran Akmals inclusion need to realise that he has lost more games for us than he has won. The ODI team should be: 1. Ahmed Shehzad 2.Nasir Jamshed 3. Asad Shafiq 4. Umar Akmal 5. Mohm Hafeez 6. Hamad Azam/ Fawad Alam 7. Sarfraz Ahmed 8. Shahid Afridi 9. Umar Gul 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Junaid Khan/ (Mohm Aamir- when he returns in 2015) Afridi is at number 8 as I dont consider him a batsman. And players like Shehzad, Alam and Azam are the future, and could one day captain the ODI team.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 21:38 GMT)

ahmed shehzad should play....

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (June 15, 2012, 20:58 GMT)

Mr Rajesh with all due respect wasn't it obvious. The day Pak bastmen start playing the way they are supposed to the will be #1

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 19:33 GMT)

Ahmed shahzad should be given a fair chance

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 16:54 GMT)

Kamaran Akmal and Imran Nazeer should include in Pakistan squad. Current situation is very bad for limited over format.

Posted by Ammy_rd on (June 15, 2012, 15:10 GMT)

Younis Khan must hang his ODI boots as he is blocking the way of talented youngsters nor is he contributing much to the team. Haris Sohail should be brought in to replace him.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

i think Pakistan needs a completely new lineup, with only the deserving (Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali) surviving and getting rid of old guns who're literally proving worthless (like Hafeez, YK and Misbah) and Umar Akmal should be pushed up so he can play a little more freely without the pressure to score quick runs. just see what position Kohli has succeeded!

Posted by Purple-Patch on (June 15, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

"Nothing New" or what the World doesnt "Already Know". The day our batsmen are on a par with our bowlers then we'll rule & dominate game. Sadly I dont think this will happen anytime soon or perhaps even ever!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 13:56 GMT)

Nice article.. Keep up the good work Rajesh..

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

For all the criticism Inzi used to get, somewhat deservedly for his running - he was perhaps the last batsman Pakistan had who adapted to any match situation, pitch and bowlers. His century in the first match of the 2003 Ind-Pak ODI series while chasing 349 - was a masterclass on how to pace an innings. It ended in defeat for Pakistan, but that's immaterial - he totally bossed it. All that done with a cool, calm but alert mind. Miss the days of Miandad and Saleem Malik and Saeed Anwar. Being from India, I was supposed to hate them - but you had to love how they paced an innings.

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (June 15, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

They are ruining U.Akmal, he has to take undue risk due to the pressure of run rate. This top 5 batsmen create this pressure by scoring too slow. Umar should be drafted in top order. We also need a good wicket keeper batsman (e.g. K.Akmal) with an aggressive opener (Nasir Jamshed or Ahmad Shahzad) so that we may score/chase big runs.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

Lethal007..Whole heartedly believe in your comments. Yes the team needs Lion Hearted Batsmen just as World Class Bowlers we have. But the team has emerged greatly from the abyss

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

I just hate it when people here starting CREATING THEIR OWN LINEUPS in each article!!! I mean FACE IT..IF YOU WERE SO GOOD AT THIS..YOU WOULDN'T BE HERE DREAMING ABOUT YOUR BEST ELEVEN..WHICH JUST PROVES HOW LUNATIC YOU ARE.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

The biggest disappointment has been Yonis Khan. He has been playing cricket for the last 10 yrs or so but haven't made up his mark in ODIs like in the test matches.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

ODI squad: 1.Mohammad Hafeez 2.Nasir J/Ahmed Shahzad 3. Asad Shafiq/Younis 4. Azhar/Misbah 5.Fawad Alam 6.Umar/Kamran Akmal (Wkt k) 7.Shahid Afridi 8. Razaq/Tanvir 9.Umar Gul 10.Sami 11.Ajmal. Misbah, Younis, Razzq should phase out by Asad, Azhar, Tanvir.

Posted by lethal007 on (June 15, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

well as a PAKISTANI i'm very proud of my team with their efforts although we have flaws in our batting.... After spot fixing scandal if it had some other side they wnt perform like PAKISTAN. Reaching WC 2011 semi Final, winning Asia cup great achievement.We produce good batsmen but great bowlers.....PAK just dnt give up we always cheer for you

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

pakistan need a wkkeeper batsman, should consider kamran akmal on the place of sorforaj, sorforaj can bat but not competitive in intl cricket, also should bring back shoaib malik and abdul razzak. the team will be like this-1) hafeez 2) nasir jamshed/ahmed shehjad 3) younis khan/shoaib malik 4) umar akmal 5) misbah ul haq 6) kamran akmal 7) afridi 8) shohail tanvir/abdul razzak 9) umar gul 10) m sami 11) saed ajmal. if they can drop misbah from odi's like t20 it will be very good. then malik can play on his place. than afridi will captain again. misbah should only play tests.

Posted by Romanticstud on (June 15, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

It is confusing that a team has the highest average batting and the lowest average bowling and yet they have no trophies in their cabinet ... South Africa statistically is the best side in the world ... but when they lose their way they lose it totally ... Never has South Africa won a World Cup knockout game ... West-Indies, India, Australia, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka have all lifted the world cup ... but South Africa not ... Pakistan, have been able to win games from seemingly impossible scenarios ... vs South Africa in UAE.

Posted by mtalhas on (June 15, 2012, 10:55 GMT)

I started watching cricket in 90s so from there onwards i observed the overall downfall of pakistan cricket team. the squads of 90s were full of batting specialists who perfectly fitted the batsmen slots of the team. after the gradual exit of all those players like anwar,ijaz,inzi,salim malik,moin,akram..these slots were taken by average players at various times who kept on switching these positions till today. blame goes to the administration which failed in this area as no succession planning was done and talent was mismanaged. presently, bowling is pakistan's main weapon but if we analyze then its clear that fast bowling standards have also been on a decline if compared to the era of wasim,waqar,akhtar. the only positive aspect is that spin department is doing well.

Posted by Hafeez_Malik on (June 15, 2012, 10:23 GMT)

Glad to see, atleast someone is slower than Misbah.

Posted by Balumekka on (June 15, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

After the exit of Mohammed Yousuf, the huge gap in the Pakistani batting line-up is more and more widening.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (June 15, 2012, 9:34 GMT)

Dont agree with the title of article. ODI squad should be like this... 1/ Hafeez 2/ Nasir Jamshed 3/ Asad Shafeeq 4/ Umer Akmal 5/ Misbah 6/ Kamran Akmal 7/ Afridi 8/ Rana/ Azam/ Soahai tanvir/ Razzaq 9/ Sami 10/ Gul 11/ Ajmal

/// Haris sohail, cheema.

Posted by Nuxxy on (June 15, 2012, 8:45 GMT)

I know it's an article about Pakistan, but as a South African I find it rather embarrassing because the the SA team is so dominant statistically, but still can't win knockout games. Here's hoping for 2015.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

@tariq mehmood Perhaps you don't follow pak crikcet closely. Otherwise everyone know how talented Asad is. At-least he is much better than misbal and younis.

Posted by smalishah84 on (June 15, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

great piece Rajesh....although I feel that the title is indeed misleading......it should have been "Pakistan winning despite awful batting" :p

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

I am really surprise by Young Talent like Asad Shafiq with 27.50 average and 67.07 strike rate in 26 games. our Media is crying for him all the time we need some one with 35+ average and 80+ strike rate other wise Misbah is still serving better than such type of young talent.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

Well done Rajish, let's hope PCB official find some time to read these facts and get rid of Misbah, younis khan. Any new batsman can easily make 20 odd runs in ODI,s.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

i don't know why they are not including imran nazir in there T20 & ODI Squad, then the team should be like this.

1. Imran Nazir 2. Ahmed Shahzad 3. Mohd. Hafeed 4. Umar Akmal 5. Misbah 6. Shahid Afridi (he need time to settle) 7. Kamran akmal/Sarfaraz 8. Sohail Tanveer 9. Umar Gul 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Mohd. Sami.

This will combine the attack & consollidate combination for the team.

Posted by wnwn on (June 15, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

If a team scores 200 runs against Pakistan in a 50 over match they have a very good chance of winning. If they score 250 they have won the game.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

very good article.....Misbah and younis's snail pace batting is the main reason why Pakistan not scoring 300+ runs. We need good young batsmen. Surprisingly no one talks about Misbah's slow batting -- they only talked about his average who he has attained by remaining not out in many innings. They should groom players for the next world cup as surely Misbah can't play the next world cup and so is Younis Khan.

Posted by Miandad280 on (June 15, 2012, 6:17 GMT)

Super piece, Rajesh. Pakistan's batting is in crisis, no doubt about it.

Posted by Bilal94 on (June 15, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

You don't need stats to tell you this. You can simply tell this by seeing that it always seems like a Mammoth task to chase a total around even 200 for PAK batting.I believe Pakistan does not have single ODI batsman.Afridi Umar Akmal and co. are T20 batsman while the rest(Misbah Shafiq Azhar Younis) are Test batsman.ODI batsman are like Kohli and De Villiers who notch big scores consistently at good strike rates.I personally believe that Pak ODI batting is the worst amongst test playing nations barring Zimbawe.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (June 15, 2012, 5:17 GMT)

so disappointed to see the performance of pakistani premium batsman younas khan in this time frame. He was not that bad but lately he is out of form and that is hurting pakistan big time. Misbah is slow and Akmal don't get chance to play at the top.

Pakistani batting is boring because of boring captain , Misbah should quit ODI and just play test cricket for next 10 years, he is perfect for that.

We have lost two world class fast bowlers in 2010 and still not able to find another world class fast bowler at all. All are just normal bowlers. Thanks to spin that we are above par.

Posted by StarsnStumps on (June 15, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

I'm confused ... the title suggests this was an article about how good Pakistan's bowlers were during this period not how poor their batsmen have been .... it needs more details of how Pakistan's bowlers have excelled.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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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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