The numbers that made the difference

The three-Test series between England and India had plenty of statistical highlights. Cricinfo analyses some of the interesting ones.

The value of partnerships

England's batsmen scored three centuries in the series to India's one; there were four century partnerships for England, twice as many as the Indians managed; yet, the series scoreline read India 1, England 0.

India's triumph in the three-Test series was a victory for collective effort over personal heroics. There were as many as 14 half-centuries, and 16 half-century partnerships, which ensured that England rarely had the luxury of getting two quick wickets in succession.

The list of average partnerships for each wicket also shows that England's top order didn't do badly. The Indian opening pair was a revelation, but England's first three wickets did better than India's, while the middle order (partnerships for wickets 4-6) put together healthy partnerships as well. Where they lost out in comparison to India was in the lower-order batting - their last four wickets averaged ten runs per dismissal, which means they were as good as all out when six down. The Indians scored 17 more per partnership for the last four wickets, which translates into 68 extra runs per innings.

Apart from Anil Kumble's heroics at The Oval, the difference was the performance of the wicketkeepers. Matt Prior, apart from letting through 71 byes and dropping crucial catches, also failed with the bat, averaging 14.60. Mahendra Singh Dhoni wasn't always tidy behind the stumps, but he was superb with bat in hand, scoring 209 runs at 52.25. Without his match-saving contribution at Lord's, India would have only managed a drawn series.

Working out the angles

"We've been asked different questions against the left-arm angles which we haven't seen before," Michael Vaughan admitted after the series, which was a tribute to the splendid bowling performances of Zaheer Khan and RP Singh. With Sreesanth off-colour through most of the series, the two left-armers were easily India's stand-out bowlers, confusing the batsmen with their line of attack and the swing they generated. Zaheer became only the third Indian fast bowler - after Javagal Srinath and Sreesanth - to take 18 wickets in a three-Test series. As the table below shows, England's batsmen weren't comfortable against them no matter which side of the wicket they bowled from.

* Runs off the bat only
The swing-and-seam factor

The only batsmen who handled India's three fast bowlers with a measure of success were Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen was immense throughout the series against all bowlers, but Cook blotted his book by falling twice to Kumble and Sourav Ganguly, against whom he managed a miserable seven runs in 41 deliveries.

Sourav Ganguly's series was spoilt by a couple of poor decisions, but despite that he averaged nearly 50 and handled England's three fast bowlers better than any of his mates. Whether getting into line to defend, weaving out of the way of bouncers, or caressing drives through the off side, Ganguly was mostly comfortable against the three-pronged attack of Sidebottom, Anderson and Tremlett, which bodes well for India's next two Test series, against Pakistan and Australia.

Spin support

With the fast bowlers doing the bulk of the damage, the two spinners on show played largely a supporting role. That wasn't quite so unexpected for England, but Kumble would have expected to play a bigger role with the ball, especially on the last day at The Oval. He did finish with 14 wickets in all at a respectable average of 34.50, but those numbers are slightly flattering, as half those wickets comprised the four bowlers in England's line-up. Against the specialist batsmen, Kumble was distinctly second-best. On the other hand, he also ensured that India didn't have to suffer any of the lower-order partnerships that have become the norm when they play overseas.

Panesar was even more ineffective against the Indian top order, but he too benefited from getting lower-order wickets. His series average of 50.37, though, is his second-worst: the only occasion he has been more ineffective was in his first series, also against India. (Click here for Panesar's series-wise bowling averages.)


The table below lists five of the more interesting head-to-heads: Ganguly was supposed to be susceptible to pace and bounce, but he handled Tremlett pretty well; Pietersen had a good time against Zaheer, but found RP Singh more difficult to handle; Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss had no such luck against Zaheer, while Anderson can legitimately claim to have Tendulkar's number.