Gary Kirsten nearly always came good in a final © Cricinfo Ltd

In the recent final of the DLF Cup, Australia were at an uneasy 80 for 3 after 24 overs when Andrew Symonds strode to the crease. So far he had scored 8 and 2 in the tournament but those who watched Symonds bat after Australia were 10 for 3 in the VB series final against Sri Lanka would have exuded quiet confidence. In such winner-takes-all games Symonds averaged 49 while his career equivalent was 38. Sure enough, he rose to the occasion and scored 52 to take Australia towards a matchwinning target. This week we look at the best performers in knockout matches which comprise of finals, semi-finals, quarter-finals etc.

South Africa's Gary Kirsten clearly raised the bar when it counted most. His record in knock-out matches - he averaged 16 more than his career average of 41 in them - was impressive enough but his record in grand finals of tournaments has been simply stunning. In 20 finals, Kirsten scored three hundreds and seven fifties and averaged a massive 67.93. South Africa won 14 of those 20 finals and four of the defeats were against Australia in Australia.

Biggest difference in batting average between finals and non-finals in ODI (qualification: 10 innings in both finals and non-finals)
Player Finals Runs Ave 100 Not Runs Ave 100 Diff
G Kirsten (SAf) 24 1084 57.05 3 161 5714 38.87 10 18.18
RP Arnold (SL) 21 735 49.00 0 144 3003 33.00 1 16.00
PJL Dujon (WI) 20 359 35.90 0 149 1586 21.43 0 14.47
Javed Miandad (Pak) 21 761 54.35 1 212 6620 40.61 7 13.74
DJ Richardson (SAf) 16 157 31.40 0 106 711 18.23 0 13.17
A Symonds (Aust) 20 642 49.38 1 129 3117 37.11 4 12.27
AP Gurusinha (SL) 15 535 38.21 0 132 3367 27.15 2 11.06
DM Jones (Aust) 32 1219 53.00 2 132 4849 42.91 5 10.09
AL Logie (WI) 15 335 37.22 0 143 2474 28.11 1 9.11
KLT Arthurton (WI) 11 272 34.00 0 94 1632 25.11 0 8.89

  • Click here for the full table for batsmen.
  • A lot of criticism has been heaped on Sachin Tendulkar because he under performs in knockout matches especially tournament finals. However, the stats reveal that he still averages 46.52 in all knockout games and 47.96 in grand finals while in other games he averages 44. Take a closer look and you'll realise that Tendulkar's performances in crunch matches have been on the decline. Before 2000, he averaged 54.92 in 30 knockout games with five centuries and eight fifties. After 2000, he's averaged a mere 31.40 with only three fifties in 17 knockout games and only 27 per game in grand finals .

    Rahul Dravid, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Inzamam-ul-Haq are some other current heavy-weight batsmen who average lesser in knockout games compared to their performances in other matches. Click here to see where they stand in the tables.

    Imran Khan and Mohammad Yousuf are two names that catch the eye among the top ten batsmen who've performed the worst in knockout matches. Yousuf averaged 29.70 in 23 games while Imran averaged 23.06. Even with the ball Imran struggled in these games, taking only 16 wickets at 35.12 apiece in 19 matches.

    Biggest difference in batting average between finals and non-finals in ODI (qualification: 10 innings in both finals and non-finals)
    Player Finals Runs Ave 100 Not Runs Ave 100 Diff
    JC Adams (WI) 16 97 8.81 0 111 2107 31.92 0 -23.11
    L Klusener (SAf) 21 347 24.78 0 150 3229 44.23 2 -19.45
    PV Simmons (WI) 16 199 14.21 0 127 3476 30.76 5 -16.55
    HDPK Dharmasena (SL) 25 96 9.60 0 116 1126 25.59 0 -15.99
    GR Marsh (Aust) 17 476 28.00 0 100 3881 42.18 9 -14.18
    DS Lehmann (Aust) 19 421 28.06 0 98 2657 41.52 4 -13.46
    Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 10 117 13.00 0 112 2536 26.42 0 -13.42
    Abdul Razzaq (Pak) 26 344 19.11 0 191 3953 32.40 2 -13.29
    Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 23 594 29.70 1 200 6861 42.61 10 -12.91
    Imran Khan (Pak) 19 346 23.06 0 156 3363 35.03 1 -11.97

  • Click here for the full table for batsmen.
  • Mohinder Amarnath's career bowling figures are pretty mediocre - an average of nearly 43, economy of 4.33, strike-rate of 59 and not even one four-wicket haul. In knockouts, however, Amarnath has mind-boggling stats. He bowled in eight of the 11 games he played, conceded only three runs an over, struck every 33 balls and took 10 wickets at 16.50 - an average bettered only by Joel Garner.

    Biggest difference in bowling average between finals and non-finals in ODI (qualification: 300 balls bowled in both finals and non-finals)
    Player Finals Wkts Ave 4w Not Wkts Ave 4w Diff
    M Amarnath (India) 11 10 16.50 0 74 36 50.17 0 33.667
    GRJ Matthews (Aust) 8 14 20.07 0 51 43 40.07 0 20.000
    S Madan Lal (India) 7 12 18.41 1 60 61 31.41 1 13.000
    PS de Villiers (SAf) 10 18 17.27 0 73 77 30.19 2 12.925
    Azhar Mahmood (Pak) 20 23 28.78 3 119 99 41.20 2 12.422
    JC Adams (WI) 16 11 25.81 0 111 32 37.97 1 12.159
    SR Tendulkar (India) 47 30 34.83 1 320 112 45.97 5 11.143
    GF Lawson (Aust) 8 11 20.72 0 71 77 30.70 1 9.981
    N Kapil Dev (India) 21 31 19.19 1 204 222 28.60 3 9.414
    UDU Chandana (SL) 19 26 24.42 1 127 125 33.24 4 8.820

  • Click here for the full table for bowlers.
  • Chris Harris and Gavin Larsen, two bowlers who applied New Zealand's choke hold during the middle overs, have a forgettable record in finals. Harris managed just 6 wickets in 14 finals - a best of 2 for 32 - and had a strike-rate of 110.6.

    Biggest difference in bowling average between finals and non-finals in ODI (qualification: 300 balls bowled in both finals and non-finals)
    Player Finals Wkts Ave 4w Not Wkts Ave 4w Diff
    GR Larsen (NZ) 8 2 137.00 0 113 111 33.57 1 -103.432
    CZ Harris (NZ) 14 6 89.33 0 236 197 35.92 3 -53.406
    Yuvraj Singh (India) 20 3 85.00 0 137 38 34.29 1 -50.711
    IVA Richards (WI) 24 8 74.50 0 163 110 33.02 3 -41.482
    DS Lehmann (Aust) 19 5 62.80 0 98 47 24.06 1 -38.736
    RM Hogg (Aust) 10 6 62.50 0 61 79 25.86 5 -36.639
    PL Symcox (SAf) 15 8 70.62 0 65 64 34.33 1 -36.292
    BL Cairns (NZ) 10 5 63.60 0 68 84 28.56 3 -35.040
    Tauseef Ahmed (Pak) 6 3 73.66 0 64 52 38.96 1 -34.698
    JE Emburey (Eng) 7 4 62.00 0 54 72 29.14 2 -32.861

  • Click here for the full table for bowlers.
  • George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo. For the stats he was helped by Tobian Clayton who works for Cricinfo in Australia