There are certain points
beyond which statistics don't matter. When Sachin plays that classic,
picture perfect straight drive - and when he says straight he means
straight - perfectly bisecting the bowler and the stumps at the
opposite end, you give a fig about what his previous averages,strike
rates, man of the match awards , blah blah. When Sehwag knocks the
bowler out with that fatal upper cut which goes flying over third man's
head, the fact that hes scored at only 17.whatever in his previous 15
odd games fades somewhere into the oblivion.
But fortunately or
unfortunately, for good or for bad, once the ball is retrieved from the
stands and the dust settles and everything calms down, these facts come
right back from wherever they have hidden themselves, and their
relevance imprints itself all over the picture. Whether we like it or
not, statistics do play an important role in helping analyze the value
of a team. More importantly for this series of articles, stats also
play an important role in trying to predict the future course of games.
What Squadstats attempts to do is weigh the team's averages rather individual players averages.
This is more relevant because A) Cricket is, at the end of the day, a
team game and individual player stats only contribute to the larger
picture, which is the team's performance and B) by law of averages and
logic, a team's average is a more accurate indicator of their future
performance rather than a player's stat.
Based on these stats, we attempt to preview each major game in the
World Cup, tell you what's likely to happen and give you an idea of why
that will or will not happen. So lets start with the World Cup opener,
Pakistan Vs West Indies.
The first thing to be done is to arrive at a prediction of how much
each team is likely to score and compare them with each other. This
prediction, or the 'expected team score' is arrived at by using a
formula that takes into account overall team and player batting
averages, overall team and player strike rates and the average no. of
wickets the team lose in each game.
Applying this formula to the current WI-Pak game tells us that it is going to be one cracker of a contest. Pakistan
should score 227 for 7 in their 50 overs, so with an error margin, they
ought to have something in the region of 220 to 235. West Indies are
expected to score a little more - 231 - in their 50 overs. But a
difference of 4 runs is negligible and can be easily over-ridden, which
leaves us with a tight game.
So now lets see where can the game be won or lost.
Pakistan have a better chance of winning if they bat first and let the Windies chase.Both
teams have been going through a relatively tough batting patch in their
last 30 games. In the last 10 games in which they have batted first,
Pakistan tend to score 211, fairly lower than their average score. The
Windies, on the other hand, score on an average, 204 in the last 10
games they have chased. Meanwhile, Pakistan's average decreases a shade
in the last 10 games they have chased and goes down to 204, while
Windies remain at 201 when they bat first. All of which are lower than
their overall batting averages, but the difference between the team's
scores increases in Pakistan's favour if they bat first and let Windies
However,if they do lose
the toss and have to chase, it may not be all bad news. Pakistan have
recorded an average of a little over 5 runs per over in the last 10
games they have chased, which indicates they have the potential to score around 250 if they save their wickets.
Surprisingly enough, Sarwan turns out to be the most valuable batsman in the Windies squad,
over riding the inconsistencies of Lara, Gayle and Chanderpaul.
However, the trio are dangerous themselves, with each of them scoring
more than 15 runs each innings above the team batting average, while
Sarwan notches up an impressive 20 runs more than the team batting
average. This tells us that Pakistan can afford to direct their
chief resources towards these four batsmen, and possibly, let their 4th
and 5th bowlers peg away at the rest.
Meanwhile, only Inzamam and Yousuf deviate extensively from their
individual team averages,scoring 18 and 16 runs more than the average
respectively. This indicates that the Pakistan scoring is divided more or less equally amongst all the batsmen along unpredictable lines, and the Windies, therefore, cannot concentrate on two or three specific batsmen.
Of these, however, Lara, Inzamam and Gayle score a high percentage of
their runs ( 47%, 49% and 57 %) in boundaries. So one way for the
opposition to get rid of them would be to tie them down to ones and
Both teams score a
substantial percentage of their runs (46 and 47 %) in boundaries, which
tells us they are not so good at pinching singles and twos.The bowling side may be better off setting defensive fields and letting the batting side choke themselves into submission.
Lastly, but most
crucially, Pakistan have both youth AND experience unlike the Windies
who have youth,but comparitively lesser experience. The average
Pakistan team age is 27.73 but the averages matches each player has
played is 110.27. The corresponding figures for the West Indies is
26.13 and 85.Everything indicates that while we will have a close,
evenly fought game, Pakistan may just pinch it from under the West