Numbers Game

Pakistan's terrible run in ODIs

They have a dismal 24-43 win-loss record against the top eight teams since January 2012, and batting has been their biggest worry

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
Azhar Ali has been in fine ODI form recently, but he has a huge task on his hands over the next couple of months  •  AFP

Azhar Ali has been in fine ODI form recently, but he has a huge task on his hands over the next couple of months  •  AFP

With only eight teams participating in the 2017 Champions Trophy, and September 30, 2015 being the cut-off date to identify those sides, there'll be a clamour over the next couple of months to rack up the wins and make the cut. Till a few months ago, this cut-off date, and the fact that only eight teams would qualify, wouldn't have caused too many alarms for anyone. However, Bangladesh's fine recent run has coincided with Pakistan's poor form, ensuring that every game in these three ODI series - Bangladesh-India, Bangladesh-South Africa, and Sri Lanka-Pakistan - could be relevant, even if the series are already decided.
At the moment, a little more than one point separates West Indies (88.40), Bangladesh (88.25) and Pakistan (87). Significantly, Pakistan are at the bottom of this list, not Bangladesh, which means they'll need a strong series against Sri Lanka, and hope that Bangladesh don't win too many against India and South Africa. For Bangladesh, who'll play both their series at home, it's a superb opportunity to make a strong statement and knock out one of the traditionally stronger teams.
Pakistan's status as the ninth-best ODI team according to the ICC rankings, is a pretty accurate reflection of their form over the last three-and-a-half years. In 2011, Pakistan's ODI record was the best among all teams: 24 wins, seven defeats, and a win-loss ratio which was better than all other sides. Since the beginning of 2012, they have a 35-44 win-loss record which, among the top ten teams, is worse than everyone except Zimbabwe. Even those numbers look better because of a 11-1 record against Zimbabwe and the Associate teams. Exclude those games, and Pakistan's record drops to 24-43, which is significantly poorer than West Indies and Bangladesh.
A look at the batting and bowling numbers further reveal that Pakistan's batting has been a bigger concern than their bowling during this period. The batsmen have averaged 27 runs per wicket, which is poorer than all teams except West Indies, while they are also the only side to score at less than five runs per over. Pakistan's bowling average is also the poorest, but their economy rate is second-best among the top nine teams during this period.
ODI records* for teams since Jan 2012
Team Mat* Won W/ L Bat ave RPO Bowl ave ER
 Australia  73  42/ 25  1.68  33.50  5.42  29.71  5.23
 India  78  43/ 29  1.48  36.31  5.55  32.63  5.42
 South Africa  65  34/ 27  1.26  36.00  5.52  27.43  5.12
 Sri Lanka  105  50/ 48  1.04  32.53  5.33  33.05  5.39
 New Zealand  64  29/ 29  1.00  32.23  5.57  31.56  5.49
 England  69  32/ 35  0.91  32.20  5.21  31.96  5.37
 Bangladesh  34  13/ 19  0.68  30.51  5.23  32.47  5.29
 West Indies  59  22/ 34  0.65  26.51  5.11  33.79  5.36
 Pakistan  69  24/ 43  0.56  27.04  4.90  34.82  5.19
* Record against top 9 teams only
Pakistan's batting problems are reflected in the numbers below: among the 12 batsmen who've scored at least 500 ODI runs against the top eight teams since the beginning of 2012, none have managed to combine a 35-plus average with an 80-plus strike rate. Sohaib Maqsood and Haris Sohail come closest to achieving it - Maqsood averages 34 at a strike rate of 81.56 from 21 innings, while Sohail averages almost 38 at a strike rate of 78.31 from 16 matches. Azhar Ali has pushed it along recently, since taking over as ODI captain after the World Cup, but his strike rate during this period against the top eight teams is still only 71 (and the numbers below exclude the games against Zimbabwe).
The Pakistan batsmen who do score quickly, though, haven't done so for long enough consistently. Umar Akmal has a strike rate of almost 84, but an average of under 28 does scant justice to his batting skills; Shahid Afridi's strike rate is close to 140, but he inspires little confidence, given his inconsistency; Sarfraz Ahmed has shown plenty of urgency and innovation as a batsman, and he, along with Azhar, Maqsood and Sohail, will have to develop a batting line-up that consistently shows more urgency than they have done in the recent past. Younis Khan's poor form during this period undoubtedly hurt them, while in players like Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed, they have had too many batsmen with strike rates in the mid-70s (even after allowing for the fact that Pakistan have played a lot of games in the UAE, which doesn't produce the most conducive conditions for quick scoring).
Most of the other top teams have multiple batsmen who have scored 400-plus runs at an average of 35 or more, and a strike rate of more than 80 during the last three and a half years. (Click here for the full list.) Even England, who have consistently been criticised for batting at a tempo that belonged to another era, have four batsmen who meet all three criteria - Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen's played only 13 innings during this period, but the other three have all played more than 40. Australia have as many as eight batsmen who fulfill these criteria, while India and New Zealand have five each.
Pakistan's batsmen in ODIs* since Jan 2012 (Min 400 runs)
Player Mat* Runs Ave SR 100 50
 Misbah-ul-Haq  62  2127  41.70  70.64  0  19
 Mohammad Hafeez  60  1839  31.70  76.18  4  10
 Ahmed Shehzad  39  1446  37.07  73.73  4  8
 Umar Akmal  53  1170  27.85  83.81  0  8
 Shahid Afridi  57  1087  23.12  137.94  0  7
 Nasir Jamshed  28  923  34.18  72.27  3  4
 Sohaib Maqsood  21  646  34.00  81.56  0  5
 Azhar Ali  16  622  47.84  70.92  1  5
 Haris Sohail  16  531  37.92  78.31  0  4
 Younis Khan  29  513  18.32  72.25  1  2
 Sarfraz Ahmed  22  447  29.80  90.85  0  1
 Asad Shafiq  25  444  18.50  64.16  0  3
* Against top 8 teams only
Pakistan's bowlers haven't done so badly, but the top ones haven't played often enough, which has hampered the team badly. Saeed Ajmal's absence has obviously been the biggest setback - he averaged 20.03 at an economy rate of 4.17 for his 94 wickets before being pulled up for his dodgy action, and when he returned with a remodelled action he was a far lesser bowler. Junaid Khan was out of action too through the World Cup, and struggled in the ODIs in Bangladesh. Among the other regular bowlers, the lack of wickets for Shahid Afridi - 53 from 57 matches - and Wahab Riaz - 31 wickets from 30 games - has hurt Pakistan. Even so, the bowling has been a lesser worry than the batting.
Pakistan's bowlers in ODIs since Jan 2012 (Min 100 overs)
Player Mat Overs Wkts Ave Econ
 Saeed Ajmal  51  470.4  95  21.11  4.26
 Mohammad Irfan  36  323.2  58  27.37  4.91
 Junaid Khan  34  285.2  55  28.41  5.47
 Shahid Afridi  57  466.0  53  42.39  4.82
 Mohammad Hafeez  60  412.1  36  46.13  4.02
 Wahab Riaz  30  221.5  31  42.58  5.95
 Umar Gul  26  201.3  26  45.03  5.81
 Sohail Tanvir  19  148.3  16  49.81  5.36
* Against top 8 teams only
In Tests during this period, Pakistan have a 10-10 win-loss record, which is third among all teams, next only to South Africa and Australia. However, their ODI stats have been so poor that they are in danger of missing out on the 2017 Champions Trophy.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter