11 Things You May Not Know About World Cup 2011

Sehwag and Tendulkar were the least likely batsmen in the Indian team to take India to victory.

Yuvraj was not the highest impact player of the 2011 World Cup.

By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar

Not that your life is incomplete or meaningless without knowing these facts (or our version of the truth, if you must get snotty), but some of it is actually rather interesting, if this sort of stuff intrigues you.

By taking the scorecards of all the matches played in last year’s World Cup through Impact Index, some interesting things came up – which probably won’t enter your consciousness otherwise, especially not after a year. Maybe you’ll find a few of these interesting.

1. Yuvraj Singh’s bowling impact in the tournament was higher than his batting impact

India’s highest impact player in the tournament is remembered the most for his scintillating 57 in the quarter final against Australia (at absolute crunch-time), maybe even for his devastating 113 against West Indies in their last group game – all memorable batting performances. Yuvraj was actually India’s fourth-highest impact batsman in the tournament (after Tendulkar, Gambhir and Dhoni) but second-highest impact bowler (after Zaheer Khan and ahead of Harbhajan Singh) – his consistency with the ball not quite as eye-catching perhaps. But it had a huge role to play in India’s victory.

2. Yuvraj Singh was not the highest impact player of the tournament

While Yuvraj was India’s highest impact player by a distance (362 runs, 15 wickets, Econ 5.0), interestingly, Dilshan (who scored 500 runs and took 8 wickets, Econ 4.1) had a higher impact than him in the tournament (Dilshan had a higher impact right through the knockouts). As did Brad Haddin (332 runs) whose consistency with the bat was remarkable – his contribution as a wicketkeeper overlooked. As was Sangakkara’s, whose tournament impact came very close to Yuvraj’s too.

The logic of these awards necessarily going to a member of the winning team is fundamentally flawed in a team sport – also partially responsible for 36% of the Man-of-the-Match awards in this tournament that were not given to the highest impact players in those matches (this was still better than the norm of 45% being wrong overall –the flat subcontinental pitches often producing such high impact batting performances that they were indisputably highest impact from any angle).

3. The highest impact batting innings in World Cup 2011 (only in a match context) was not Kevin O’Brien’s.

Kevin O’Brien’s stunning 113 is considered the showpiece innings of the tournament.

But AB de Villiers’ 107 against West Indies in Delhi (coming in to bat at 20-2, chasing 223), registered more impact than Kevin O’Brien’s innings (coming in at 111-5, chasing 328). While O’Brien’s landmark (in an Irish context) performance had him absorb more pressure and achieve a higher match relative strike rate than de Villiers’ innings, ultimately, de Villiers made 24% of the runs in the match (despite registering Pressure IMPACT) while O’Brien made 17% of the runs in his match – the main reason for the difference – which also reveals how many runs there were on those respective pitches.

There is no doubting O’Brien’s dominance of the proceedings when he exploded, but those who follow South Africa would know how fragile they can get under pressure (especially in the World Cup) - while the target of 222 may have been achieved very comfortably in the end, anything could have happened if de Villiers had not taken charge at that point.

4. The highest impact Irish batsman in the World Cup was not Kevin O’Brien

While Kevin O’Brien’s magical innings made him the poster boy of Irish cricket, most have automatically assumed he was his team’s most (if not only) successful batsman. The truth is that his brother beat him to it – Niall O’Brian’s batting impact was actually more in the tournament. Not because of the measly 7 runs more than he made (at a considerably lower strike-rate than Kevin), but because his failure rate was a good 17% lower than Kevin’s with the bat – he was just more reliable and consistent. Moreover, despite the fact that Kevin also bowled (and was a genuine all-rounder), Niall was Ireland’s highest impact player too (narrowly this time) – because he was also the wicketkeeper. New Zealand's entry to the semi-finals was not unexpected.

5. New Zealand’s entry to the semis was not unexpected. Neither was South Africa’s exit

New Zealand had lost 0-4 to Bangladesh in an ODI series there just before the World Cup and their chances were considerably reduced by fans, experts and bookies alike when this tournament began. However, they were the fourth-highest impact side on career numbers (as per the Impact scale) and showed considerably more potential than were given credit for. A key attribute they had as a team was their considerable ability to absorb pressure (based on how much the individual players had done over the careers), which was always likely to stand them in good stead in a knockout match.

As it happened, they could not have done better than to meet pre-tournament favourites South Africa in the quarter-finals, which, as a team had an alarmingly low Pressure IMPACT – always likely to get them into trouble in the crunch moments (and had given them the tag of chokers for a while now). The rest is history of course, but as per Impact Index, this was not at all unexpected, as per our pre-tournament analysis (published in The Times of India before the World Cup began.)

6. The Indian batsman to absorb the most pressure in the tournament was Virat Kohli

While Sachin Tendulkar made the most runs for India in the tournament and registered the highest impact (primarily because of his runs tally), and Yuvraj Singh had the highest batting average, an unsung hero for India was Virat Kohli (unnoticed for his 282 runs at an average of 35) – who absorbed the most pressure for India right through the tournament. He came under pressure thrice during the tournament and he had a 100% absorption rate – a very promising sign of things to come (which, of course did with great clarity this year).

7.The two batsmen to absorb the maximum pressure in the World Cup were both from England

It is interesting that the two batsmen to absorb the most pressure in the tournament were both from the side that provided the most thrills in the tournament – by losing to

Ireland and Bangladesh but defeating South Africa and tying with India. Ravi Bopara and Jonathan Trott rescued England 5 times between them.

8. The highest impact batsman in the tournament was Jonathan Trott from England

Perhaps the most underrated batsman in world cricket today (in both Tests and ODIs), Trott’s sustained performance in this tournament was special. Though he had the fourth-highest runs tally in the tournament and the tenth-highest batting average, he was the highest impact batsman in World Cup 2011. His batting failure rate of just 14% was amongst the lowest in the tournament, his runs tally significantly high within the context of every match, his pressure-absorption very high (as mentioned above) – he was the main
reason why England competed so hard, so often in the tournament.

9. Only two batsmen achieved a 0% failure rate in the tournament. Both their sides failed to reach even the semis.

It is interesting that the two batsmen who achieved a 0% batting failure rate right through the tournament (quite an achievement) – AB de Villiers of South Africa and Brad Haddin from Australia, could not take their teams past the quarter-finals. Harvir Baidwan was outstanding in the World Cup.

10. The highest impact bowler from non-Test-playing nations was originally from Chandigarh

23-year-old Harvir Singh Baidwan was the highest impact bowler in the tournament, amongst  those who played from the non-Test playing nations. He plays for Canada and is originally from Kapil Dev and Yuvraj Singh’s hometown.

11. Even before India’s innings began in the World Cup final, Sehwag and Tendulkar were the least likely batsmen in the Indian team to take India to victory

This was an Impact Index observation made when the score was 31-2 in the World Cup final, when Tendulkar had just been dismissed. As it happened, out of the seven batsmen in the Indian team, the five with the highest impact when it came to chasing in pressure situations were Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Raina and if India had to choose two batsmen to leave out in that situation, they would be Sehwag and Tendulkar. The rest is history. And this same story has become even clearer in the one year that has gone by since April 2nd, 2011.

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

Related Links:

Lost chances and mismanaged priorities

2011 World Cup Final: The Live Blog

How Kirsten Plotted India’s Rise

India’s Road to Glory in the 2011 World Cup

Tendulkar fulfills his World Cup destiny

An ode to the two Masters

India’s Road to the World Cup: Scoreboards