India in West Indies / Features

West Indies v India, 4th Test, Jamaica, 2nd day

Leading from the front ... again

It's as if this Test match is being played on two different pitches - one on which Rahul Dravid is batting, and the other on which the rest of the 21 players are battling it out

On the Ball with S Rajesh

July 1, 2006

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It's as if this Test match is being played on two different pitches - one on which Rahul Dravid is batting, and the other on which the rest of the 21 players are battling it out. Over two days of the match, Dravid has faced 345 deliveries and been dismissed once; the rest of the motley crew from both sides have lost 25 wickets in 687 balls - that's an average of less than 28 deliveries per dismissal.

The outstanding feature of Dravid's two innings in this match have been his limitless patience and his impeccable shot selection: out of the 345 balls he has faced in both innings, his response on 202 occasions has either been a dead defence or letting it go through to the wicketkeeper. The two-paced nature of the pitch has meant that batsmen haven't been comfortable driving, but Dravid has played the stroke extremely well, getting 56 runs from his front-foot drives, evidence of just how well he has been able to judge the length and get to the pitch of the ball. It has mostly been a defensive effort, but whenever the short balls have come along, Dravid has unleashed some superb cuts and pulls - 21 such shots have brought him 45 runs.

Dravid's mastery of the conditions can be gleaned from his in-control factor over his two innings - 91.3%, nearly eight percentage points more than the rest of his team-mates over the two innings.

West Indies had one batsman who batted with as much composure as Dravid did - Daren Ganga, fresh from a century and an unbeaten fifty in the previous Test, made a fluent 40 before falling to a huge offbreak in Harbhajan Singh's first over. In the 64 deliveries he faced, Ganga's in-control factor was 89%, ten percentage points more than the rest of the West Indian batsmen managed. For much of their innings, it seemed the other batsmen wanted to hit their way out of trouble and get a few runs against their name before an unplayable delivery got them. They will have to do much better than that if they are to chase down a target which is likely to be in the vicinity of around 250 in the final innings.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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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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