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April 16, 1999

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It's all done with mirrors

Sangamesh Konaraddi

An analysis of currently active Indian batsmen in ODIs makes for some interesting reading. I've put the data in the form of three charts, and please note that the figures have been tabled prior to the Pune ODI against Sri Lanka, and does not include the ODIs played since that date.

Overall career record :

Player's name No. of Matches Not outs / DNB Total Runs Averages 100+ 50+
Azhar 312 76 8873 37.6 7 55
Sachin 211 27 7801 42.4 21 43
Ganguly 92 13 3289 41.63 6 22
Jadeja 156 42 4095 35.92 4 24
Dravid 72 12 2136 35.6 3 14
Kambli 88 26 2231 35.98 2 13

Performances on Indian Subcontinent (includes India, Pak, SL, Sharjah, Singapore, Bangladesh) :

Player's name No. of Matches Not outs / DNB Total Runs Averages 100+ 50+
Azhar 209 57 5923 38.97 6 34
Sachin 140 19 5616 46.41 19 30
Ganguly 56 7 2178 44.45 5 14
Jadeja 101 29 2871 39.88 4 19
Dravid 37 5 1012 31.63 2 6
Kambli 70 22 1965 40.94 2 12

Performances outside the subcontinent (includes AUSTRALIA, SA, NZ, ZIM, WI, ENG, Toronto) :

Player's name No. of Matches Not outs / DNB Total Runs Averages 100+ 50+
Azhar 103 19 2950 35.11 1 21
Sachin 71 8 2185 34.68 2 13
Ganguly 36 6 1111 37.03 1 8
Jadeja 55 13 1224 29.14 0 5
Dravid 35 7 1124 40.14 1 8
Kambli 18 4 266 19.00 0 1
(DNB -> Did Not Bat.)

Summary table :

  In Subcontinent Outside the Subcontinent Difference in the averages
Player No. of Matches/Averages No. of Matches/Averages (Subcontinent - outside )
Azhar 209 / 38.97 103 / 35.11 + 3.86
Sachin 140 / 46.41 71 / 34.68 + 11.73
Ganguly 56 / 44.45 36 / 37.03 + 7.42
Jadeja 101 / 39.88 55 / 29.14 + 10.74
Dravid 37 / 31.63 35 / 40.14 - 8.51
Kambli 70 / 40.94 18 / 19.00 + 21.94

Based on these statistics, it would appear that Vinod Kambli is king on the subcontinent, and Dravid rules outside our boundaries.

Neither Sachin nor Jadeja have a healthy balance in their averages, which is not a good sign. Azhar interestingly has the least difference in averages, while Dravid obviously needs to improve on home soil. A case, too, could be made out for sending Kambli abroad, for A tours under Krish Srikkanth.

A big surprise here is that Dravid's performance outside the subcontinent is even better than Sachin's. Again, it would appear that Sachin has to do a lot more away from home to justify his reputation, and talent.

Based on performance outside the subcontinent, the rankings of Indian players will be 1) Dravid, 2) Ganguly, 3) Azhar, 4) Sachin, 5) Jadeja, 6) Kambli.

Interestingly, given Kambli's performance away from home, one could argue that the selectors got it right when they decided not to take him for the World Cup team. Kambli is an extraordinary batsman on ordinary pitches -- thus, where a Sachin or a Dravid will score 100+, he will score 200. Against good bowlers and on pitches outside the subcontinent, however, Kambli barely manages to get into double digits.

Looking at the World Cup, I believe a good part of India's 1983 win owed to the fact that they played against the West Indies just prior to the Cup. This meant they had played the strongest team of the time, had got over the fear of taking on the big guns and, in the process, the weaker players had been weeded out and only the good ones remained in the side.

Similar is the case in 1996 -- Sri Lanka, the eventual winners, had just completed a very tough, almost traumatic, series against Australia just before that. They had been tried in the fire, and emerged forged into a tough, battle ready outfit.

If 1+1=2, then maybe New Zealand would be a good bet this year -- they have just finished the toughest of contemporary face-offs, against South Africa, the team most favoured for the 1999 WC. The other favourites, for the same reason, could be Australia and West Indies, who are tuning up by playing seven games against each other.

Had this WC been played on the sub-continent, India would have been favourites -- they have been playing Pakistan considerably, of late, and the defeats against them should have inured them, toughened them and made them match-ready for the big one. Unfortunately, they are not going to be playing in the sub-continent.

It would have been interesting if the BCCI had arranged a tournament in Toronto featuring India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England. Such a tournament, preferably prior to picking the World Cup squad, would have been a good indicator to the form and performance of players in the kind of conditions they will get in England.

Alternately, the Pepsi Cup and Coca Cola Cups should have been played on quick, seaming tracks, for that is what we are going to encounter in England, and the sooner we know who will perform on those tracks, the more time we have to fine tune our team and our strategy.

All things considered, though I am an Indian fan, I won't be surprised if India does not perform with much distinction in the upcoming tournament -- in fact, it will be a huge surprise if India progresses into the Super Six stage.

What is more likely is that Wadekar and Gaikwad will say "It is one of those things, it happens to every team, we have to put all this behind us and we are looking forward to the next World Cup."

Azhar will probably add, "We batted badly and fielded badly. Our bowlers gave too many runs. We have learned from our mistakes. Our players were too tired and we did not get sufficient time to get adjusted to the cold weather conditions. We have put all this behind us."

But if my head says that is what will happen, my heart wishes the team will prove me wrong. But that will take a miracle -- and it will probably have to come from the bat of Sachin Tendulkar.

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Editor's note: Sangamesh is a Rediff regular, and this is his first guest column. If you want to write a column for us, here's how to go about it.

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