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Who are the biggest hitters in T20?

A look at the batsmen and bowlers with the best boundary and dot-ball stats in T20 internationals

S Rajesh

September 14, 2012

Comments: 22 | Text size: A | A

Yuvraj Singh was adjudged the Player of the Tournament even as he put the finishing touches on India's triumph, World Cup 2011, Mumbai, April 2, 2011
Yuvraj Singh is the only batsman to score 500-plus runs in T20 internationals at a strike rate of more than 150 © Getty Images
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Over the last couple of years, T20 cricket has been all about clubs and franchises, with league tournaments mushrooming all over the world following the IPL's success. However, over the next three weeks, the focus shifts back to T20 cricket between countries. Here's a look at some of the top performers in T20 internationals, based not on the usual parameters of runs scored and wickets taken, the lists for which you can find here and here, but on ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball database, from which it's possible to get, among other numbers, dot-ball stats and batting and bowling performances during specific stages of a 20-over innings.

Dot-ball factor
In a format in which balls available are at a premium, those who waste the fewest deliveries are obviously a huge asset. The table below offers a reminder to England (if they ever needed one) and their fans of why Kevin Pietersen was such a key player: no batsman has a lower dot-ball percentage, among those who have scored 500 runs in T20 internationals. Out of 831 balls he faced, he went runless off only 255. Off the other 576 balls, he scored 119 fours and 32 sixes, and also took 348 singles, 71 twos and six threes.

Close behind him is Australia's Michael Hussey, whose dot-ball percentage is also outstandingly low. Both Hussey and Pietersen have achieved a low dot-ball percentage while maintaining averages of more than 30 - in Pietersen's case almost 38 - and a run rate of almost 8.50 per over.

The other player whose numbers stand out is Yuvraj Singh, who returns to the Indian team after winning his battle with germ-cell cancer. Yuvraj too averages more than 30, while his strike rate is the highest among batsmen who have scored 500 runs in T20 internationals.

Batsmen with lowest dot-ball percentages in T20I (Qual: 500 runs)
Batsman Runs Balls/ Dots Average Run rate Dot ball %
Kevin Pietersen 1176 831/ 255 37.93 8.49 30.69
Michael Hussey 566 403/ 126 33.29 8.42 31.27
Shahid Afridi 801 562/ 182 18.20 8.55 32.38
Cameron White 652 484/ 163 28.34 8.08 33.68
Paul Collingwood 583 459/ 155 18.80 7.62 33.77
Yuvraj Singh 601 400/ 139 31.63 9.01 34.75
Mahela Jayawardene 981 706/ 246 30.65 8.33 34.84
Jacques Kallis 642 525/ 185 40.12 7.33 35.24
Suresh Raina 658 477/ 169 32.90 8.27 35.43
JP Duminy 846 687/ 244 32.53 7.38 35.52

While those with the lowest dot-ball percentages are mostly middle-order batsmen, those who play the most dot balls are usually openers, since they bat when fielding restrictions are in place. (Thus they also get more opportunities to score runs in boundaries.)

The names on the list below are all of opening batsmen, with some of them not scoring off as many as 48% of the deliveries they face. The good ones are those who score plenty of runs off the deliveries that are not dots. Chris Gayle, for example, has a dot-ball percentage of 42.40, which is the sixth-highest among batsmen with 500-plus runs, but yet he scores 8.63 runs per over (strike rate 143.91). Mohammad Hafeez, on the other hand, only scores at 6.75 per over (strike rate 112.52) due to his relative lack of boundary hitting: 279 of his 575 deliveries are dots, and off the others he has struck 78 fours and 12 sixes, and taken 157 singles, 41 twos and eight threes.

Batsmen with highest dot-ball percentages (Qual: 500 runs)
Batsman Runs Balls/ dots Average Run rate Dot ball %
Mohammad Hafeez 647 575/ 279 20.21 6.75 48.52
Sanath Jayasuriya 629 487/ 234 23.29 7.74 48.05
Graeme Smith 982 770/ 340 31.67 7.65 44.16
Kamran Akmal 778  619/ 271 25.09 7.54 43.78
Salman Butt 595 551/ 240 28.33 6.47 43.56
Chris Gayle 757 526/ 223 36.04 8.63 42.40

Boundary percentages
The list of batsmen with the highest percentage of runs in boundaries also has a few names who featured in the previous table. As mentioned earlier, it's most likely that openers will dominate this list, as there's less protection in the outfield when they are batting. However, there are a couple of non-openers who make it: Yuvraj combines a low dot-batting strike rate with a high percentage of runs in boundaries, which explains his outstanding strike rate and the fact that he is the only batsman to score 500-plus runs in T20 internationals at a strike rate of more than 150. Then there's Albie Morkel, who has scored crucial runs for South Africa down the order when there's little time to settle in. (Both Yuvraj and Morkel are among the select few who have struck more sixes than fours in Twenty20 internationals.)

Batsmen with highest percentage of runs in fours and sixes in T20I (Qual: 500s runs)
Batsman Runs Average Run rate 4s/ 6s Boundary %
Sanath Jayasuriya 629 23.29 7.74 76/ 23 70.27
Chris Gayle 757 36.04 8.63 67/ 43 69.48
Shane Watson 731 27.07 8.87 56/ 47 69.22
Graeme Smith 982 31.67 7.65 123/ 26 65.99
David Warner 978 27.16 8.44 91/ 46 65.44
Yuvraj Singh 601 31.63 9.01 35/ 40 63.23
Brendon McCullum 1443 36.07 7.96 139/ 57 62.23
Albie Morkel 502 23.90 8.53 28/ 33 61.75
Martin Guptill 818 32.72 7.49 71/ 35 60.39

Examining the same set of stats between the 11th and 20th overs, the dot-ball percentages come down even further, to 23.81 for Michael Hussey, 25.26 for AB de Villiers, 26.02 for Dwayne Bravo and 26.43 for Suresh Raina. At the other end of the scale are Abdul Razzaq (36.84) and Kieron Pollard (34.39), both big hitters who believe fielders on the boundaries aren't a problem when the aim is to send the ball into the crowd.

MS Dhoni has a pretty high dot-ball percentage too in the middle overs, of 31.28% (which is the ninth-highest among batsmen who have scored 300-plus runs in the last ten overs). That, coupled with his relatively low boundary percentage of 43.65, means his run rate in the last ten overs is only 7.44. On the other hand, Yuvraj also has a relatively high dot percentage, of 30.68, but he scores 68% of his runs in boundaries, which lifts his run rate in these ten overs to 10.4 runs per over.

The bowlers

Dot-ball percentages
Just as minimising the dot-ball percentage is key for batsmen, maximising it is crucial for bowlers, to increase the pressure on batsmen and force them into errors. Among bowlers who have bowled at least 75 overs, South Africa's Morne Morkel has the highest dot-ball percentage, of 50.29. Not surprisingly, his economy rate and average are both excellent.

Trent Johnston in the second spot is a bit of a surprise, but his stats are obviously boosted by the fact that he has played a fair number of matches against the lesser teams. Most of the bowlers on the list below are new-ball bowlers, which you would expect, given that they bowl when the field restrictions are on, which gives them the best chance to bowl dots. Most of them also have an economy rate of less than seven, and averages of less than 22.

Bowlers with highest dot-ball percentage in T20I (Qual: 450 balls bowled)
Bowler Balls Wickets Average Econ rate Dot %
Morne Morkel 521 34 17.26 6.76 50.29
Trent Johnston 492 25 20.28 6.18 49.80
Shane Bond 465 25 21.72 7.00 48.82
Dale Steyn 498 31 17.87 6.67 46.99
Mitchell Johnson 609 36 20.11 7.13 45.32
Sohail Tanvir 459 21 25.47 6.99 45.32
Stuart Broad 795 41 23.70 7.33 44.28
Umar Gul 892 59 16.66 6.61 44.17
Saeed Ajmal 924 60 15.48 6.03 44.16
Abdur Razzak 461 29 17.96 6.78 44.03

Boundary percentages
The list of bowlers with the lowest percentage of runs in boundaries is dominated by spinners - and all of them high-class spinners who have learnt the art of bowling in 20-over cricket. Daniel Vettori leads the way, and has conceded more sixes than fours, which is perhaps a commentary on the size of the outfields in New Zealand as well. The one number in Harbhajan Singh's row that stands out is his average: while most of the others average less than 21, Harbhajan concedes 30 runs per wicket.

Bowlers with smallest percentage of runs conceded in boundaries (Qual: 450 balls)
Bowler Runs Wickets Average Run rate 4s/ 6s Boundary %
Daniel Vettori 617 35 17.62 5.50 18/ 20 31.12
Harbhajan Singh 541 18 30.05 6.44 23/ 14 32.53
Graeme Swann 742 44 16.86 6.39 25/ 26 34.50
Ajantha Mendis 444 39 11.38 5.69 26/ 11 38.29
Shahid Afridi 1141 57 20.01 6.10 72/ 30 41.02
Johan Botha 727 36 20.19 6.24 50/ 18 42.37
Saeed Ajmal 929 60 15.48 6.03 61/ 25 42.41
Sohail Tanvir 535 21 25.47 6.99 45/ 10 44.86

The three bowlers who have conceded the highest percentages of runs in boundaries are all New Zealanders, with two of them conceding more than eight per over. Shane Bond's overall economy rate is much lower, which is due to his high dot-ball percentage - even though he concedes a few boundaries, he compensates by keeping it tight otherwise.

Bowlers with highest percentage of runs conceded in boundaries (Qual: 450 balls)
Bowler Runs Wickets Average Run rate 4s/ 6s Boundary %
Kyle Mills 895 31 28.87 8.39 94/ 33 64.13
Tim Southee 773 28 27.60 8.49 82/ 26 62.61
Shane Bond 543 25 21.72 7.00 64/ 12 60.41
Brett Lee 714 28 25.50 7.86 77/ 17 57.42
Albie Morkel 674 20 33.70 7.94 48/ 30 55.19
Morne Morkel 587 34 17.26 6.76 49/ 21 54.86
Jacob Oram 669 14 47.78 8.63 63/ 19 54.71
Stuart Broad 972 41 23.70 7.33 95/ 25 54.53

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

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Posted by Bradshaw28 on (September 17, 2012, 6:46 GMT)

Slowly but surely the world of cricket now no 4 his slow rate and protecting his wicket King Jacques is the best to ever play and stood the test of time. Average 40 and manage to be placed outside top 5 cricketers of all time. Think again and salute the God and give respect where its due. My plea

Posted by Neuen on (September 17, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

The stats say nothing. All I can see is that they push the spinners around and hit a 4 now and then of the pace bowlers. But says nothing, If every guy scores 15 in your team you have 150. If every one gets 200 you have 200. 20 is a low score in cricket but strike rate is boss in this form

Posted by RobTay14 on (September 16, 2012, 23:15 GMT)

Jayasuriya must not like running, but just hitting boundaries.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

all subcontinient teams are best performance in t20 both in bowling and batting, so many stars in all three teams india pakisan and srilanka

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 1:24 GMT)

@nicklarter YES! Put out first class stats from country cricket and see how many Irish appear.....I know others might get bored of Irish fans commenting aggressively all the time - we are just tired of being told we aren't good enough.... we blatantly are (thrashed Zim by 50 runs yesterday) - and we just want a fair shake. Why are there only 2 group games - could it be perhaps that the ICC dont want associates to be able to progress? Aus and Windies may find that its a double edged sword ....we may only be capable of beating Aus and Windies 1 in 4 times but if this is the 1 they are out! And this is a good Ireland team .....

Posted by Munkeymomo on (September 14, 2012, 23:12 GMT)

@Nick Larter: Excellent point, just because you perform well against weaker sides doesn't mean you won't against better sides. Ireland have 2 high quality bowlers in Trent and Johnston. Expect them to do well.

Posted by ProdigyA on (September 14, 2012, 16:16 GMT)

Rajesh your stats make my head spin. Amazing.

Posted by shiva89 on (September 14, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

useless stats... does not detemine anything at last.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 14:31 GMT)

Does Chris Gayle have any equals at the World Cup 20/20 ?

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

@MENDIS_Forever Giving excuses? Those edges happen only at the death and not everytime. Pace is NOT exactly a good thing in T20s nowadays. It is spinners who has proven to be better than Phasst bowlers. Change of pace is actually better than just raw pace. Of course you do need pace ,but that list only has Bond and Lee , both have been clobbered in this format. Bond in the 2007 WC, check that. Lee has been better but Stuart Clark outbowled him.

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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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