Matches (16)
IND v ENG (1)
PSL 2024 (2)
WPL (2)
Nepal Tri-Nation (1)
BPL 2024 (2)
Ranji Trophy (4)
CWC Play-off (3)
Durham in ZIM (1)
The Confectionery Stall

How much greyer was Dhoni's beard at the end of the England ODI series than at the start?

A round-up of the stats that matter from the three matches

Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman
Gandalf, is that you?  •  Getty Images

Gandalf, is that you?  •  Getty Images

To mark the end of the white-ball phase of the England v India summer, please enjoy the official ESPNcricinfo Stat of the Series competition.
Simply choose your favourite three statistics from the shortlist below to win our star prize - the right to sit quietly in a darkened room and think about: (a) the alarmingly luminous and disconcertingly throbbing question marks raised about the make-up, structure and selection of India's team; (b) whether or not, in one of the infinite parallel cricketing universes that must exist, Ben Stokes and MS Dhoni have ever combined for 134 runs off 236 balls in an ODI series; and (c) how and why anyone could suggest that England might drop Joe Root from their one-day side, after a microblip in form that left him averaging a mere 58.0, with a strike rate of 91, since the 2015 World Cup.
It was a curate's omelette of a series, an unusual cocktail of interesting, disappointing, curious and undramatic, relatively devoid of the kind of batting thunderings that have become commonplace in the one-day international game. It left England looking ahead to next year's World Cup with confidence higher than ever, and India wondering whether they should try more batsmen in their mid-30s, or start looking at the fortysomethings instead.
STAT A: Adil Rashid was the first legspinner to clean-bowl Virat Kohli in international cricket.
Rashid's legbreak that castled the Indian captain was the kind of delivery that people would have written poems about in 19th century. Kohli's face, in the seconds after the ball completed its perfect, whirring, mesmerising journey from hand to stump, wore the kind of expression that renaissance artists would have sloshed onto a fresco as the epitome of human embafflement.
It was a provably exceptional piece of bowling. This was the first time that Kohli had been bowled by a legspinner in his ODI career. He had had his timbers tinkled by a leggie only once each in Tests (Bangladesh's Jubair Hussain in June 2015) and T20Is (Cameron Boyce of Australia, in January 2016). Both of those dismissals were played on, rather than clean bowled.
Kohli had been almost 50% less likely to end his innings by being bowled than the average top-five ODI batsman (19 of 167 dismissals in ODIs - 11.3%, compared to the average of 16.6% for all top-order batsmen since 2008). He had averaged over 80 against legspin in ODIs, 91 in Tests, and 57 in all T20 cricket. And never had he allowed a ball from a legspinner in international cricket to pass unimpeded onto his stumps. In summary: well bowled.
It was one of 17 wickets to fall to wristspin in the series, one more than the seamers of both sides managed collectively - a statistic India would have been delighted with, had it been offered to them before the series. (They would not, however, have bitten anyone's hand off, as is often suggested in sports punditry today to be the default method of expressing excitement and gratitude at a surprisingly generous offer.)
STAT B: India's seamers took 5 for 510
In the 186 series or competitions in which India have played three or more matches, only once have their seamers posted a worse average - when Debashis Mohanty, Abey Kuruvilla, Sourav Ganguly and Robin Singh combined for a total of one wicket for 352 in a three-match series against Pakistan in 1997-98. The 2018 vintage also conceded 6.59 per over, their eighth worst. India missed Jasprit Bumrah like a unicycle would miss its wheel.
STAT C: England's spinners took 34 wickets in nine ODIs this summer
Rashid and Moeen Ali took eight wickets against India, following their 24 in five matches against Australia, and two in the defeat to Scotland. They thus beat the record haul for English spinners in a home summer - 32 wickets in 14 ODIs, achieved last summer.
Even allowing for the increase in ODI cricket since the days when there were only three or four per season (in case the nation got a bit overexcited by all the action and the '60s happened again), this summer's English spin harvest has been exceptional, at 3.8 wickets per match. The previous high was 2.3, set in 2017.
After their controlled roasting by India's top order at Trent Bridge, Rashid and Moeen rebounded superbly, for combined figures of 3 for 80 in 20 overs at Lord's, and 3 for 96 in 20 at Headingley. By the standards of modern economy rates, this qualifies as almost Scroogically ungenerous.
Eighteen months ago in India, the last time these two sides played, England's collective spin analysis in three matches was 0 for 194 in 28.1 overs. In the 2014 series in England, the home tweakers took five wickets in four matches.
STAT D: India's spinners went wicketless at Headingley
Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Suresh Raina bowled 22 fruitless overs as Root and Eoin Morgan cruised to a risk-free victory on the back of Jonny Bairstow and James Vince's boundary-blattering start. It was only the second time India's spinners have failed to take a wicket in 44 ODI innings since January 2016. And, in the 77 innings since February 2014 in which they have bowled more than 15 overs of spin, this was the first in which they have taken no wickets.
STAT E: India failed to hit a six for 106.1 overs
Between the fourth and final six of Rohit Sharma's silken century in Nottingham, and the first of Shardul Thakur's late heaves at Headingley (the ground on which Sunil Gavaskar, in 1974, hit the first six by an Indian in ODI cricket), England bowled 637 balls without being hit over the ropes. Lord's was only the second time since 2006 that India have batted their full 50 overs without hitting a six. Since the 2015 World Cup, India had averaged one six every 9.3 overs (England have hit one every 7.4 overs). KL Rahul hit seven sixes in 72 balls in the T20 series but was out for a duck at Lord's, and considered insufficiently too-old for Headingley.
STAT F: David Willey's 30-ball half-century at Lord's was England's fourth fastest fifty of the ODI summer
Jos Buttler took 28 balls to reach 50 against Australia in Durham, and Morgan 21 at Trent Bridge; Bairstow took 27 balls against Scotland in Edinburgh. Willey's series-shifting Lord's effort does not even make this summer's Fastest England 50 podium.
It was, nevertheless, the fastest half-century by someone batting at eight or lower for England, highlighting a strength that may prove decisive in next summer's World Cup.
If Chris Woakes returns from injury and replaces Mark Wood, joining Willey, Liam Plunkett and Rashid in the bottom four, not only will all of England's 8 to 11 have made ODI half-centuries, they will all have scored significant runs at significant speed. Willey's Lord's innings was the first time he has scored 25 or more at a strike rate over 130. Woakes has had four such innings, Plunkett three, and Rashid, the likely No. 11 in this line-up, five.
Since the 2015 World Cup, Nos. 8 to 11 have averaged 22.2 for England, with a strike rate of 97. New Zealand are second best in both average (19.7) and strike rate (93). India's 8 to 11 have averaged 13.2, and scored at 74 per 100 balls - numbers that, understandably, may play on the minds of India's stuttering middle order. (South Africa and Australia are at a similar level.)
England have had 20 partnerships of 50 or more after the fall of the sixth wicket in that time; India just five.
It is not just the runs that England's tail scores that are significant. It is also the knowledge that they are capable of scoring them. Bairstow can bat with his current devastating freedom not only because of the ballast given by Root at three, or the brilliance of Buttler at six, but because he knows he has Rashid, with ten first-class centuries and several impactfully rapid innings in ODIs on his cricketiculum vitae, coming in at 10 or 11.
Rashid might only be needed to play a relevant innings once every ten or 12 matches, but the mere fact that a player as good as him is so low in the order changes the risk-reward calculations of the entire team; just as India's calculations are skewed by the knowledge that Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Umesh Yadav or Siddarth Kaul are slated to come in at number 8.
STAT G: MS Dhoni's beard was 7.3% greyer at the end of his innings at Lord's than it was at the start.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on BBC Radio 4, and a writer