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A masterclass in legspin bowling

With combined figures of 15 for 153 from 55.1 overs, Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne were undoubtedly Australia's stars with the ball in the comprehensive win in the Super Test at Sydney. It was their seventh win in the ten matches that they had played together. Though both are legspinners, the challenges they pose to the batsmen are quite different, as is indicated by checking out the lines they bowled in the match. Warne tried to induce the batsmen to hit against the spin, pitching plenty of deliveries outside leg and then spinning them back onto the stumps. MacGill's ploy was to pitch it on or outside off and force the batsmen to reach out to play him.

MacGill ended with match figures of 9 for 82, and has now taken 53 wickets in the games that both have played in, at an outstanding average of 21.11 and a strike rate of a wicket every 39 balls. Despite an impressive outing here, Warne's overall stats in those matches don't look so impressive - 44 wickets at 29.18, with a strike rate of 56.

While those numbers indicate that MacGill has outshone Warne when the two have played together, both MacGill and Warne have taken 25 top-order wickets (batsmen in the top six) in those ten matches. MacGill's higher tally is due to his 28 lower-order wickets; Warne has only 19. Similarly, both have taken 13 wickets of batsmen who average more than 40 in the Tests they've played together, but MacGill scores over Warne in dismissing lesser batsmen.

In this Test, both dismissed four batsmen in the top seven, but MacGill had five lower-order wickets to Warne's two. Going strictly by the way they bowled, Warne deserved more wickets - the batsmen weren't entirely in control of 32% of the deliveries he bowled at them; with MacGill, that figure was only 24%.