Sunday, May 24, 2009

Asking rates above 10 for more than 5 overs are difficult to get even in T20.... matter who you have at the crease during those overs with whatever number of wickets in hand.

Need proof?

Have a look at this chart for the IPL season 2 stats showcasing best strike rates amongst batsmen.

The list may well get new additions after the 2nd semi final and the final, but as on 23rd May morning there are only a handful of people who could twice achieve a strike rate of 200 or more (i.e. 2 runs a ball, or 12 runs per 6 balls) in the completed innings they played over 14 or more matches.

They are the usual suspects - Ross Taylor, Adam Gilchrist and Yusuf Pathan. What's more creditable, they have achieved these strike rates when it has mattered most - in the 2nd innings(if I am not mistaken then all of these 6 specials barring one Y Pathan innings were done chasing down a total - or is it 100%?? Hope someone answers that). This shows how good they have been in cracking the opposition team's bowling strategies.

But ultimately this list also shows that even these 3 whirlwinders were THIS good in only a couple of matches in such a long series. And that some other not-too-less special guys like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, MSD, Raina, ABdV - for all their fireworks - could either not achieve a completed innings with 200 strike rate or managed to get there just once. In other words, these 2-runs-a-ball-and-more innings were not as common as we may presume they were if these stats were not presented to us.

Say one of these top 3 guys (Pathan / Taylor/ Gilly) were chasing 10 an over and also playing one of these special innings. A simple calculation will show that they would still be required to either take risky singles to hog the strike or need their partners to also score at 7 or 8 to get over the line. In the closing overs it is quite likely that the partner will be a newcomer at the crease. That complicates things further.

And that, eventually, gives us an idea why it can be rather difficult to chase 10 plus in closing overs even with wickets in hand.

Knockouts are the phase where this pressure of asking rate will be felt even more in the 2nd innings. Why 10, anything above 8 can prove to be too much pressure in the final 5 overs of a semi final or the final. Now watch the replay of Gilly's innings yesterday and rate it in perspective. In a semi final clash and chasing a not too modest target, he scored at 3 runs a ball for the first 17 balls and at 2 runs a ball for the next 17 before getting out in the 35th delivery he faced.

How do I rate it? Even leaving alone the premium quality hitting demonstrated by the ageless gladiator from the Aussie Juggernaut of the 2000's, I consider Gilly's 85 yesterday to be the best of all above-50 IPL 2009 innings in terms of significance, and is arguably also the overall best amongst all knocks played in the 2 editions of IPL we have seen so far.

[Closest contestant in overall category: Warnie's cool headed finish in IPL 2008 final. Warnie scored just 9 runs, but then it was special not for the volume but for the sheer weight of the situation he was in].

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