India in New Zealand 2013-14 January 17, 2014

Inconsistent New Zealand, familiar conditions for India

The stats indicate that conditions in New Zealand have got difficult for fast bowlers

India are ranked No. 1 in the ICC ODI rankings while New Zealand are ranked No. 8. However, the contests between the two teams have not been as skewed as the recent gap in their rankings indicates. With a win-loss ratio of 0.58 against the hosts, India are only better than Sri Lanka - excluding Zimbabwe and Bangladesh - when playing New Zealand in away ODIs.

Their last tour in 2008-09 was India's first bilateral series-win in ODIs in New Zealand. Before that series, India's record in New Zealand was dismal: they had managed to win only seven of the 24 ODIs they had played against the hosts - a win-loss ratio of 0.43. Even Zimbabwe had done better, winning four of their 12 matches ODIs for a win-loss ratio of 0.50. Only Bangladesh had fared worse than India in ODIs in New Zealand before that tour.

However, given how indifferent New Zealand's ODI record has been playing at home in the recent times, India stand a good chance of winning their second-consecutive bilateral series in New Zealand. Since 2011, New Zealand have lost 10 of the 19 ODIs they have played at home and won only eight, three of which have come against Zimbabwe. Among leading ODI teams, only Zimbabwe have had worse stats - in terms of the win-loss ratio - playing at home during this period.

New Zealand owe their ordinary home record in ODIs largely to their inconsistent batting line-up. In 16 ODIs against teams other than Zimbabwe since 2011, New Zealand's top-order batsmen have hit 20 fifty-plus scores, including four centuries, but have averaged only 31.11, which is lower than the top-order averages of the teams they played against during this period. Among their top-order batsmen who have batted at least five innings, only Brendon McCullum averages above 40.

Top-order (No. 1 to No. 7) batsmen averages in New Zealand in ODIs since 2011
Team Mat Ave SR 100/50
New Zealand 16 31.11 84.5 4/16
Pakistan 6 32.00 84.0 2/4
West Indies 4 32.19 89.2 2/2
England 3 48.42 85.8 0/6
South Africa 3 51.61 87.9 1/3

The fact that New Zealand batsmen have been dismissed for cheap scores frequently has meant that they have not been able to string together substantial partnerships too often. The number of fifty-plus partnerships that New Zealand have had in home matches is the least by any team in home matches since 2011. In terms of the percentage of such partnerships, only West Indies have fared worse than them.

Fifty-plus partnership conversion rates in home ODIs since 2011
Team Partnerships NO Ave 100 part 50+ part %age conv.
West Indies 253 24 30.40 11 45 19.7
New Zealand 153 9 30.93 7 29 20.1
Bangladesh 222 16 27.01 5 43 20.9
South Africa 217 20 34.44 16 42 21.3
Zimbabwe 180 14 28.47 8 36 21.7
Australia 222 17 34.52 12 50 24.4
Sri Lanka 254 30 37.32 20 56 25.0
England 222 23 34.85 9 54 27.1
India 250 26 40.49 20 61 27.2

Though their India counterparts have not shown any such weaknesses overall, their recent performance in the ODI series in South Africa suggests that they tend to struggle against quality pace attacks in pace-friendly conditions. That has been the case in New Zealand too. Overall, Indian batsmen have such found conditions particularly tough: India's top-order batsmen average 28.09 - the least among countries where they have played at least 20 ODIs. However, their last ODI series here was their best in New Zealand in terms of their batting averages. India's top order averaged 62.72 with two hundreds and eight fifties in that series,significantly better than their previous best tour of New Zealand, in 1993-94, when they averaged 38.45.

India top order (No. 1 to No. 7) against New Zealand in away ODIs
Series Mat Ave SR 100/50
Before 2008-09 24 24.19 65.34 3/19
2008-09 series 5 62.72 109.39 2/8

However, the Indian batsmen's improved showing in their last series had as much to do with the tracks in New Zealand as they had to with the quality of batsmen that played in the series. Conditions - helped by the shorter boundaries - have become tough in general for fast bowlers here in the last ten years. The seamers average 35.48 in ODIs in New Zealand since 2004, their second-worst in any country after their average of 35.50 in India during this period. Their overall economy of 5.33 playing in New Zealand is only better than their economies in India (5.48) and Pakistan (5.38). In contrast, in the ten-year period before 2004, New Zealand had the most helpful conditions for fast bowlers. They averaged 29.20 in ODIs played in the country, and had an economy of 4.49. Even after discounting for the high scoring rates in limited-overs cricket in the last ten years, numbers indicate that New Zealand has gone from being the most helpful conditions for fast bowlers, to one of the most difficult conditions for them to bowl in.

Country wise comparison of fast bowlers' averages in ODIs
1994-2003 since 2004
Venue Mat Wkts Ave Eco Venue Mat Wkts Ave Eco
NZ 93 914 29.20 4.49 SL 123 987 28.85 4.77
SA 164 1622 29.54 4.57 BAN 105 734 30.44 4.90
AUS 140 1284 30.02 4.37 UAE 55 452 30.77 4.98
UAE 124 995 30.14 4.50 ZIM 89 734 30.78 4.93
ENG 102 997 30.84 4.46 AUS 137 1397 30.89 5.05
WI 67 575 31.94 4.56 SA 122 1244 30.95 5.04
SL 103 633 32.07 4.60 WI 152 1363 31.05 4.88
BAN 50 361 32.12 4.76 ENG 136 1281 32.79 5.04
ZIM 70 576 33.77 4.63 PAK 56 490 34.83 5.38
IND 128 930 35.69 4.94 NZ 82 768 35.48 5.33
PAK 74 547 37.17 4.77 IND 149 1230 35.50 5.48

New Zealand's transition into a country that has become batsmen-friendly in limited-overs cricket is also reflected in how India's fast bowlers have fared in New Zealand over the years. Overall, numbers seem to indicate that India's pacers haven't done too badly in New Zealand. Before their last series here in 2008-09, India's fast bowlers had taken 103 wickets from 24 matches against the hosts at an average of 29.73 and an economy of 4.31. These stats changed drastically in the 2008-09 series, when India's fast bowlers could manage 11 wickets at 50.72 and at an economy of 6.73.

India fast bowlers in away ODIs against New Zealand
Series Mat Wkts Ave Eco SR
Before 2008-09 24 103 29.73 4.31 41.3
2008-09 series 5 11 50.72 6.73 45.1

From the current India squad only three regular batsmen - MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma - have played international cricket in New Zealand. If the numbers are any thing to go by, India's batsmen may not find the conditions too different from back home, and their bowlers may find them too similar.

Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com

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