Welcome to week one of the 2016 Confectionery Stall Stat-vent Calendar. There will be a stat for each of the first 24 days of December. Ask a non-cricket-aware friend or family member to print them out, fold them up and hide them behind a little cardboard door with the appropriate date written on, for you to reveal each breakfast time before going to work/school/space/court/pub/jail/wherever else you spend your mornings. Build up the Christmas spirit by sharing the stats with everyone you meet or speak to, as loudly as possible.
In Mohali, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav each made a half-century and took four wickets in the match - the first occasion in Test history in which three team-mates have scored a fifty and taken four or more wickets in the game.
There had only been four previous instances of three players on the same side scoring a half-century and taking three wickets in the match, most recently when Malcolm Marshall (76), Roger Harper (60) and Michael Holding (73) all reached 50 in West Indies' first innings against England in Antigua in 1986, before going on to take five, four and three wickets respectively as England crumbled to their fifth defeat of the series. Viv Richards scored his famous 58-ball 110 in West Indies' second innings, so the match is sadly no longer remembered for being the first time that Nos. 7, 8 and 9 had all made half-centuries in the same Test innings against England (and the third time in all). The lack of stadium-demolishing batsmanship in Mohali means that the Indian spin trio's triple half-centuries have more chance of being fondly recalled by history as the second time that Nos. 7, 8 and 9 all made half-centuries in the same Test innings against England (and the seventh time in all).
The balance of England's team, with its unusual depth of batting and bowling, has thrown up some statistical quirks. Having six front-line bowlers has seldom been considered necessary in the history of Test cricket, and Gareth Batty duly had a deeply unremarkable match, through little fault of his own. The joy of stats, however, is that even the deeply unremarkable can be remarkable.
Batty was only the fourth player since 1976 to be the sixth bowler (or later) used in both innings, and to bat at least one innings at 10 or 11.
Had it not been for nightwatchman duty, and he had batted at 10 in the second innings, he would have
become only the fifth player ever to bowl outside the first five and bat outside the top nine in both innings of a Test (after Ian Johnson, Lindsay Kline, Bapu Nadkarni, and Lance Gibbs).
Nadkarni is one of the few cricketers, alive or dead, who might justifiably look at Ravi Jadeja's throwback remorseless water-drip left-arm spin and think: "That's a bit flamboyant." He might even look at the following stat and think: "This planet has become unbearably flippant."
Ravi Jadeja's Test economy rate of 2.24 is the lowest of the 191 bowlers who have taken 50 wickets in the last 30 years.
The Saurashtran scoring-suffocator is narrowly ahead of his Indian slow-left-arm gradual-interrogation predecessor Venkatapathy Raju (2.25); New Zealand fill-in dobster Nathan Astle (2.26), whose batting was rather more interesting than his bowling; and 1990s South African seam metronome Craig Matthews (2.26), the parsimonious paceman who would reportedly cry uncontrollably for at least a week if he ever bowled a slightly overpitched delivery. (When I use the word "reportedly", I mean that I have reported this claim to myself.)
Nadkarni conceded 1.67 per over in his 41-Test career, which ran from 1955 to 1968. The overall Test economy rate in that time was 2.33, so in terms of economy relative to contemporaries, Jadeja and Nadkarni are almost identical - the latter's economy was 71.7% of the overall figure, the former's is currently 71.8%. Even allowing for the propitious conditions in which Jadeja has played many of his Tests, his unhittability is impressive.
In India's first innings in Mohali, England's opening pair and first-change bowlers, James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali, between them took 0 for 167 in 58 overs.
This was only the fifth time that the first three bowlers England have used in the first innings of a Test have all gone wicketless, and only the second of those five in which all three have bowled at least eight overs each.
The only previous wicketless-first-three-England-bowlers first innings involving a significant number of overs was in the deeply harrowing Lord's Test of 1993, when Andy Caddick and Peter Such, in their second Tests, and the bafflingly recalled and about-to-retire-from-all-cricket Neil Foster, in his penultimate first-class match, combined for 0 for 304 in 104 overs against a grindingly dominant Australia.
Lord's 1993 was the only time that England's openers and first-change bowlers have bowled more fruitless overs in any Test innings than those sent down by Anderson, Woakes and Moeen in Mohali; and one of only two occasions in which they have conceded more wicket-free runs than Mohali's 167, the other being the Greenidge-inspired West Indian run chase at Lord's in 1984, when Willis, Botham and Pringle were splatterthrumped for 0 for 209 in 43.1 overs.
Mohali also provided:
a) Only the 18th time in any Test innings that the bowlers 1, 2 and 3 have each bowled 12 or more overs without a wicket between them;
b) The tenth time that both England opening bowlers have pounded through at least 20 wicketless overs (Lord's 1993 was the most recent previous instance);
c) Anderson's second wicketless match in his last 75 Tests (after the Lord's Ashes Test in 2015).
Woakes has now had two wicketless innings in this series in which he has bowled at least 20 overs. Steven Finn also had two such innings in last summer's series against Pakistan. Before then, the last England bowler to have two wicketless 20-over innings in a series was Ashley Giles in the 2005 Ashes, and the last England pacer to do so was Chris Lewis, in 1996 against Pakistan. The only England pacers to suffer similar struggles against India were Fred Ridgway (twice) and Allan Martin (three times) in the 1951-52 series. Ridgway never played another Test, Martin had three more the following summer.
Woakes' long-term prospects are considerably rosier. He has bowled better than his series figures of 2 for 165 suggest. And by bowling two wicketless 20-over innings in a series, he joins an illustrious list of opening bowlers including Steyn, McGrath, Ambrose, Marshall, Hadlee, Kapil, Lillee, Imran, Trueman and many other all-time luminaries of pace.
Mohali was the 16th occasion in which a team has won a Test without anyone either scoring a century or taking four wickets in an innings, and the first such victory by India.
The two other occasions this decade both involved England, in their win over Pakistan at Edgbaston last summer, and their defeat to West Indies in Barbados in May 2015.
Before Pakistan's impressively catastrophic final-session implosion in Hamilton, Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam had patiently constructed Pakistan's first century opening stand outside Asia since 2010.
It was also Pakistan's highest first-wicket partnership outside Asia since Imran Nazir and Mohammad Wasim (two stalwart members of the Pakistan Players Younger Than Misbah-ul-Haq Who Have Not Played Test Cricket Since January 2003 XI) put on 219 against a West Indian attack led by Walsh and Ambrose, in May 2000.
The Sami-Azhar stand was also the highest fourth-innings opening stand by anyone for more than ten years, since Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga added 148 for West Indies against New Zealand in Auckland in March 2006.
Perhaps the disappointment of not seeing their team-mates bring up the first 150 first-wicket partnership since 1997 is what prompted the subsequent collapse.
More for your Stat-vent Calendar next week. No peeking. Be patient. Wait your turn. To help pass the aching void of time between now and then, more on Bapu Nadkarni.
Like Jadeja, Nadkarni was a useful lower-order batsman as well as a run-abhoring stifler with the ball, averaging 25, with a first-class batting average over 40. The match mentioned in the above stats in which Nadkarni "did a Batty" (allowing for the fact that Batty's nightwatchmanship precluded him from "doing a Batty" himself) illustrates that long-batting orders are not a modern development.
Nadkarni was the sixth Indian bowler used in both West Indies innings in the Trinidad Test of April 1962, but was rather more extensively utilised than Batty was in Mohali, frugalising his way through 63 overs in the Test, taking 2 for 103, and scored 1 and 23, adding 93 for the ninth wicket in the second innings with Polly Umrigar.
Ten of the India team ended with at least 12 first-class hundreds (and the exception, Rusi Surti, made six, and scored 99 in a Test, as well as eight other Test fifties). The only player who ended his Test career without scoring 99 or more, ironically, was the opener Vijay Mehra. The astonishing depth of batting did not help India - they lost by seven wickets, the fourth of the five heavy defeats they suffered in the series.
India's No. 11 in the Trinidad Test was wicketkeeper Budhi Kunderan, already a first-class double-centurion, who two years previously had made 71 as an opener, in Chennai against Australia, the best team in the world at the time, out of a total of 149 all out, against a high-class attack featuring Alan Davidson, Ian Meckiff, Richie Benaud and Lindsay Kline.
Quite how Kunderan found himself, five Tests later, batting at 11, is something of a mystery. He batted 10 in the following Test, and scored 2 and 1, prompting the Indian selectors to think: "We'd better promote this guy up to open in our next Test." This they duly did, and Kunderan scored 192 against England in January 1964, again in Chennai, and went on to make more than 500 runs in the series. Then, after one more Test as opener, he was shunted back down to No. 9. Then back up to open again. It must have been fun being a selector in those days. A lot of fun.