Holdingwilley The second best way to enjoy cricket

Are India's openers not capitalizing in T20s?

( 808 views )

Opening_problems_Test_CricketA full T20 innings lasts at least 120 deliveries. There is not much scope for planning or building an innings in the conventional sense. Batsmen are expected to go hell for leather right from the word go.

At the same time, statistical analysis has shown that if a team loses more than two wickets in the first six overs, they lose the match nearly 80% of the time. Therefore, the opening batsmen are faced with the dilemma of whether to go after the bowling when the field restrictions are on or start cautiously and gradually build momentum as the innings progresses.

In the first T20I played between India and New Zealand at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, the Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan put on an opening partnership of 158 which was India’s highest partnership for any wicket in T20Is. Not surprisingly, India won quite comfortably by a margin of 53 runs.

It might sound like a strange time to raise the question as to why India don’t do this often enough, and whether any criticism might sound churlish.

 

The first T20I was played in 2005 and if we look at the Win-Loss ratio of the top 8 Test playing nations in T20Is, India is in the second spot at 1.593, just behind Pakistan who have a ratio of 1.6. However, India can do better.

 

If you consider the Win-Loss ratio from 1st January, 2016 India (with 2.5) is once again in second place behind New Zealand (with 2.75). However, India have played nearly twice the number of games that New Zealand have played.

In T20Is, a score of 192/7 is definitely better than 172/2 in the allotted 20 overs. Therefore, a team should find a way to maximize their resources to post as challenging a total as possible. In the first T20I at the Kotla, India went in with 5 bowlers and Hardik Pandya the all-rounder as the sixth bowling option. However, they had some depth in their batting with Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Axar Patel batting at numbers 6, 7 and 8.

 

So the question needs to be raised as to whether the openers are giving India the brisk start needed in T20Is and whether they can afford to be even more aggressive with Kohli in such great form, followed by whoever they pick at number four and Dhoni.

 

There is no doubt that Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are fine players in ODIs, but are they as effective in T20Is?

The table below gives the run rates for the opening partnership for the top 8 Test playing nations in T20Is (from 1st January 2016).

 

Country

Innings

Partnership Run Rate

100 run partnerships

50 run partnerships

South Africa

18

9.73

1

1

Australia

17

9.04

0

8

New Zealand

15

8.97

2

4

West Indies

20

8.71

1

2

England

17

8.66

0

2

India

29

8.27

2

4

Sri Lanka

28

7.8

1

3

Pakistan

25

7.23

1

3

 

In spite of having the second-best W/L ratio since January 2016, India’s run rate for the opening partnership is the third slowest on the list. Traditionally, India is a batting powerhouse and should rank higher on the scale. Pakistan of course depends a lot more on its bowling and therefore them having the slowest run rate is understandable.

Even though India has the second highest number of 50+ partnerships, it shows that they concentrate on scoring more runs slowly, rather than playing aggressively and scoring at a faster rate.

 

India’s run rate of 8.27 is 17.65% less than Australia’s 9.73, which shows that there is plenty of scope for improvement. India could win even more matches and improve their record in T20Is if they show more urgency at the top.

 

The tables below give the opening partnership run rates both batting first and fielding first for the top 8 Test playing nations (from January 2016).

This is to determine whether there is a marked difference in India’s approach when they bat first compared to when they chase, as the pace at which a team bats is determined by the target when chasing.

 

When batting first:  

Country

Innings

Run rate

West Indies

8

10.07

South Africa

13

9.17

Australia

9

8.86

India

14

8.75

New Zealand

9

8.57

Sri Lanka

12

7.1

England

8

7.05

Pakistan

13

6.65

 

India score faster when batting first but are still fourth on this list.

 

When fielding first:

Country

Innings

Run rate

South Africa

5

10.92

England

9

10.2

New Zealand

6

9.49

Australia

8

9.19

Sri Lanka

16

8.74

Pakistan

12

7.75

India

15

7.53

West Indies

12

7.2

 

India are much slower when chasing, largely a result of the required run rate.

So, it does looks like India’s openers are missing a trick and playing cautiously when they would be better served by stepping on the accelerator a little earlier.

In case people consider this to be circumstantial evidence, here is something else to consider: the batting strike rates of players from all teams who have scored a minimum of 500 runs in the opening position.

There have been a total of 35 players who have scored 500 runs while opening the batting. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir are the three Indians on this list and they have batting strike rates of 130.89, 119.37 and 119.02 respectively.

Shane Watson, Aaron Finch and Chris Gayle are the top three in this list and they score at 150.83, 148.6 and 145.34 respectively. So, Shane Watson who is the quickest is 15.23 % quicker than Rohit.

Clearly India can win even more matches more comprehensively if they show more urgency at the top.

 

Fast. Lite. Innovative. Shareable. Download our HW Cricket App, for Android and iOS!



Rate this article:

About the author

Articles:
26
Reads:
34078
Avg. Reads:
1311
FB Likes:
390
Tweets:
0

I was always crazy about cricket from the age of 7 and used to have the names of players and their ...

View Full Profile

Related Content