The price of creating history

Raina and Dhoni camouflaged how selfishly Tendulkar actually played against Bangladesh

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (3L) reacts after his team defeated India at Dhaka. (AFP/Getty Images)


By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar



Asia Cup: India v Bangladesh 4th ODI at Mirpur; 16th March 2012

India 289/5; Bangladesh 293/5 (Bangladesh won by 5 wickets)

The scorecard of the match is here.


When this match ended, from the studios of All India Radio emanated a chirpy host’s voice, breathlessly exhorting listeners to designate their Man-of-the-Match. A little bewildered on getting a plethora of calls all at once, he tuned into the first one – where a Bihari gent promptly went on a tirade about Tendulkar’s “eating-up of so many balls” and “causing India’s defeat”.

The host instantly switched to the next caller, a Tamil gentleman who politely enquired if the pitch had changed character when Bangladesh batted and why Tendulkar batted so slowly. He was cut short…and on came an excitable North Indian demanding to know why India is celebrating a hundred that cost India the match…he was cut short too – and the show, that normally is scheduled to go on for half-an-hour was literally wound-up in three minutes flat, complete with “thank you for being with us” and an upbeat film-song to mark programme-transition. It was spectacular. 

Nowhere in the mainstream media today are there any signs of recognition of the disgrace that ensued when Sachin Tendulkar played the slowest innings of his entire cricket career (lowest Strike Rate IMPACT ever in his career, which measures strike rates relative to the match standard). Or the second-lowest impact century in his entire career. Or the second-slowest century of his entire ODI career. It was always likely to cause India to be seriously short - Raina and Dhoni camouflaged how selfishly Tendulkar actually
played – but it was all still rather poetically exposed for what it truly was – a neat microcosm of the big picture.

Here is the match through the Impact Index prism.







Observations:
It is hard for any team to set a target on pitches like these – where bowlers get nothing to play with and batsmen get the benefit of every doubt. But, surely by the time the first dozen overs were complete, it was obvious that this was that kind of a pitch. The most experienced one-day player in cricket history, however, apparently didn’t realise that. Or chose to ignore that fact, and proceeded to very obviously focus on the milestone that had paralysed him from producing his best for a year.

Neo Sports ensured Sunil Gavaskar was on-air to sing the hosannas – when actually it is Kapil Dev who should have been invoked…for what was going on was very similar to how Kapil Dev ended his Test career. But at least, the indulgence of allowing him to become the world’s highest wicket-taker had not cost India the game.

Sachin Tendulkar (114 off 147 balls) eventually, despite being by far the highest scorer in the match, was the fourth-highest impact player in this match. A negative Strike Rate IMPACT of -1.25 (the worst of his career) ate into his Runs Tally IMPACT of 4.30, his Partnership Building IMPACT of 0.44 and his Pressure IMPACT of 0.15 and left him with a Batting IMPACT of 3.64.

Virat Kohli (66 off 82 balls, IMPACT 2.29), Tendulkar’s partner in crime in the middle today (Friday), suffered a negative Strike Rate IMPACT of - 0.60, as he too inexplicably slowed down as if 250 would have been an adequate score on this pitch.

At the innings-break, on being queried about his pace, Tendulkar said that both Kohli and he had decided that 270 would be a match-winning score on this pitch and thus played accordingly. Odd that he did not invoke Suresh Raina’s innings (51 off 38 balls, Batting IMPACT 2.56) or MS Dhoni’s (21 off 11 balls, Batting IMPACT 1.17) – both had occurred just a few minutes before.
 
Interestingly, Bangladeshi opener Tamim Iqbal, who made 44 runs less than Tendulkar at an even slower rate than him, actually had a slightly higher Batting IMPACT than him, as by virtue of his intent (which included absorbing the pressure of an early wicket) and his team winning, he did not suffer negative strike rate. However, Jaharul Islam (53 off 68, IMPACT 2.90), Nasir Hossain (54 off 58, IMPACT 2.50), Shakib Al Hasan (49 off 31, IMPACT 2.70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (46 off 25, IMPACT 2.85) did not need any technicality to register their high impact – it was very heartening to see some Bangladeshi batsmen step up so emphatically to take the burden off the magnificent Shakib Al Hasan (who just never seems to falter).

While Iqbal and Islam absorbed pressure at the start of the innings (highest Pressure IMPACT in the match, ahead of Tendulkar and Kohli on this scale), Rahim had a higher Strike Rate IMPACT than Shakib (highest in the match) and stayed not out in the chase. All three of them had a higher Chasing IMPACT than Shakib in the match.

For a change, Shakib was actually wrongly given the Man-of-the-Match award (in keeping with the 45% rate of getting this wrong), the honour should have been wholly Mushfiqur Rahim’s – his Batting IMPACT was anyway higher than Shakib’s, add to that his captaincy and wicketkeeping impact – he was miles ahead. In fact, there were five Bangladeshis with a higher impact than Shakib today (Friday) – if they could play more as a team like this, far fewer would have made snide remarks about Tendulkar getting his coveted landmark against this team.

The Indian bowling, barring the still-underrated (bizarrely) Praveen Kumar (3 for 56, IMPACT 3.83), was somewhat middling, though not a complete disaster as is being claimed to deny Tendulkar’s myopic approach. On this pitch, they actually did not have enough runs to play with.

So, a team that has just 3 batsmen with a Career Batting IMPACT of over 1 (Nasir Hossain, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal) beat a team that has 6 such batsmen. Only because its highest impact batsman (whose far greater achievements than this utterly artificial stats monument we have ourselves celebrated elsewhere) chose to noticeably put himself before the team – as he has done a few times before in the past (especially in Test cricket), but never quite as blatantly and with as much social sanction as today (Friday).  It cost India the match, and it could cost them the tournament if Pakistan beat them on Sunday. It’s interesting to see how many people are unable to get their heads around this very obvious fact.

For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com

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