By Jatin Thakkar and Soham Sarkhel
Whenever we discuss cricket amongst ourselves, we have a common tendency to say that a particular batsman played well under tremendous pressure. However if one is asked to define what pressure is according to cricketing norms, he/she will most definitely be at a loss of words. At Impact Index, we are able to measure at least a good part of it. For a batsman the Pressure IMPACT measures pressure that comes from fall of wickets. It kicks in when a batsman comes in to bat in a tough situation (as defined from how many wickets have fallen) and makes a certain proportion of runs (based on the match totals). This does identify a lot of players whose contributions often get overlooked.
Here are the batsmen with the highest Pressure IMPACT numbers in the history of T20 International matches (minimum 15 matches).
1. Umar Akmal (Pressure IMPACT 0.21, 28 matches)
2. KP Pietersen (0.20, 38)
3. Misbah Ul Haq (0.19, 35)
4. SK Raina (0.19, 26)
5. CO Obuya (0.19, 17)
Umar Akmal is one of Pakistan's most exciting and promising young talents in the international circuit. Surprisingly though, the Pakistan selection board has not been too kind on him and have deemed him too 'immature' to play for Pakistan on a regular basis. Definitely they need to have a look at these figures. Misbah Ul Haq and Suresh Raina may not be the eyeball grabbers in this list as they are known for their craftiness in the T20 format. However the inclusion of Kevin Pietersen may seem a bit of a surprise as people often consider him to be a slam-bang player and generally not a one who will shepherd his team through tough times by playing cautiously. However that is exactly Pietersen's style, he is not only the highest impact T20I batsmen of all time but he also has the highest Strike Rate IMPACT of all the batsmen which shows that even in a pressure situation, he likes to dominate the bowlers rather than going along with the tide. For those who remember Collins Obuya, the only image they will have of him is going through the Sri Lankan batting line up with his leg breaks in the 2003 World Cup.
However much has changed since, he has become more of a batting all-rounder nowadays a la James Franklin and has been a consistent performer for Kenya in the middle order with the bat. He even holds a T20 hundred against his name.
The Five Highest Impact Pressure Performances in T20 International history:
1) H Masakadza 44 off 57 v West Indies in Port of Spain, 2010 - Pressure IMPACT 2.02
In this one-off T20I match against West Indies, Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat first on a track which they misread as a batsman's paradise. Exactly 15 minutes into the match their scorecard read 0-3 after 3 overs. Hamilton Masakadza somehow managed to hang on after having come out as an opener and tried to give Zimbabwe's total a sense of respectability amidst all the mayhem. However he was bowled soon after from a delivery by Kemar Roach, luckily for him and Zimbabwe it turned out to be a no ball. In what was maybe the only blip in his entire knock, he crafted out a brilliantly paced 44 runs off the 57 deliveries that he faced. It's not very common in Impact Index for an opening batsman to get Pressure IMPACT in his batting analysis as he comes into bat when his team hasn't lost any wickets but Masakadza's partners made sure that he got plenty in this innings.
Masakadza stayed till the 18th over of Zimbabwe's innings and shared partnerships with 6 different batsmen in the course of his innings- some of them lasting for only an over or two. Needless to say he was the highest scorer in his team as 6 Zimbabwean batsmen fell for a duck. Chasing a meager 106, West Indies succumbed to the two paced nature of the pitch and eventually lost the match by 26 runs. Another remarkable stat is that for every 11 runs a wicket fell in this match which just goes on to show the crucial impact Masakadza had in this match as a batsman in holding his wicket as well as in forming partnerships in the latter half of the Zimbabwean innings.
2) DJ Hussey 59 off 54 v England in Barbados, 2010 - Pressure IMPACT 1.64
At the biggest stage of them all, England and Australia squared off in the finals of the third edition of the T20 World Cup at Barbados. Having been put into bat by Paul Collingwood and his English brigade, Australia struggled from the word 'go' and were soon writhing at 7-2 after 1.5 overs. It needed a player of some quality and experience to step into such a situation and Australia got their answer in the form of David Hussey, one of the most successful players in the history of T20 cricket. He absorbed pressure in an incredible fashion and even though wickets kept falling around him (It was soon 8-3) he shepherded Australia's innings right through to the end of their innings.
By the time he got out he had scored 57 runs and more importantly had given Australia's total a sense of respectability. He got out of the last over of the innings and even though he got a negative Strike Rate IMPACT in this innings (a very common thing when a batsman registers Pressure IMPACT), his primary job was to make sure Australia played out the full 20 overs in the first place, which he effectively did. Unluckily for him though it was not enough for Australia to win the title as England chased down the score with seven wickets to spare.
3) MJ Clarke 27 off 27 v England in Barbados, 2010 - Pressure IMPACT 1.64
Michael Clarke's personal best Pressure IMPACT innings came in the same aforementioned match where David Hussey saved Australia the blushes against England in the T20 finals. When Michael Clarke stepped into bat, Australia were 8-3 off 2.1 overs and were in dire need of a partnership. Even though Clarke's innings was by no means electrifying, his 37 runs partnership (best way to absorb pressure) with David Hussey in 43 balls at least made sure that Australia didn't collapse any further and also effectively gave them a platform to attack the English bowlers in the last 10 overs.
4) SL Malinga 27 off 25 v New Zealand in Auckland, 2006 - Pressure IMPACT 1.62
Of all the batsmen that one may come to associate with pressure, Lasith Malinga's name would definitely not feature in any one of them. However in this T20I match against New Zealand at Auckland, the Sri Lankan top order failed miserably and collapsed to 61-7 off only 11.4 overs. It was up to Malinga to give Sri Lanka and himself a score to defend on a fast bouncy track at Auckland and he did his best with his batting skills as he mustered up 27 runs off 25 balls to give Sri Lanka a total of 115 runs. His was the last Lankan wicket to fall and the tail (last three wickets) scored 54 runs off the last 50 balls of the innings to at least provide New Zealand a challenging total.
His Strike Rate IMPACT was the highest amongst all the batsmen in this match and his Runs Tally IMPACT was also the highest amongst all the Sri Lankan batsmen in this match. One more point that needs to be mentioned is that all his runs came through proper stroke play rather than the typical tail ender hoicks and slogs. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka though, New Zealand chased down the total with 5 wickets and 9 balls to spare.
5) CRD Fernando 21 off 14 v New Zealand in Auckland, 2006 - Pressure IMPACT 1.62
In the same match as discussed above, Fernando stepped in when Sri Lanka were 71-8 and alongwith Malinga conjured up a partnership of 44 runs off only 23 balls for the 9th wicket. However unlike Malinga most of his scoring shots came from favorable outside and inside edges which were effective nonetheless.
And here are the batsmen with the highest Pressure IMPACT numbers in the history of T20 domestic matches (minimum 15 matches).
1. A Flower (Pressure IMPACT 0.29, 20 matches)
2. MN Waller (0.25, 21)
3. Umar Amin (0.23, 24)
4. Bhavik Thaker (0.22, 17)
5. N Behera (0.21, 16)
Most of Andy Flower's T20 matches came at a time the format was being experimented with at the English domestic level and his records in the same are quite commendable. Another Zimbabwean on this list is Malcolm Waller who has had a brilliant run in the last two-three seasons of Zimbabwean domestic cricket and has also impressed in his international stint so far. He showed his ability to absorb pressure in the ODI format as well when he slammed 99 not out off 74 balls to help Zimbabwe chase down 329 in a dramatic game against New Zealand.
One of the most talked about batting prospects in Pakistan, Umar Amin finds himself on this list because of his success in his role as a finisher for the Rawalpindi Rams in the Pakistani domestic T20 cup. Bhavik Thaker who is an experienced campaigner for Gujarat is present on this list while Niranjan Behera of Orissa (a high impact T20 player in the Indian domestic scene) also finds a mention here. Both of them have been the mainstay of their respective teams' relatively weak middle order and hence more often than not steered their teams out of perilous situations.
The Five Highest Impact Pressure Performances in T20 domestic history:
1) YK Pathan 89 off 42 v Gujarat in Vadodara, 2010 - Pressure IMPACT 2.91
Chasing 129 against Gujarat, Baroda were expected to cruise to victory. However, a top order collapse ensued when Yousuf Pathan stepped in with Baroda at 2-2 after 0.4 overs. Soon the situation worsened and Baroda stuttered to 29-6 at the end of 7 overs. Pathan however took charge and finished with a match-winning knock of 89 runs off just 42 balls. He scored 68% of the total runs scored by Baroda and did it in his own destructive manner.
Apart from Yousuf, the top 7 batsmen for Baroda collectively scored only 6 runs which again goes on to show the amount of pressure generated on Pathan. Out of the 119 runs that were scored by Baroda during Pathan's stay at the crease 89 of them were scored by him even as wickets fell around him in a heap. His Chasing IMPACT of 1.69 is also amongst the highest in the history of T20 cricket.
2) JC Tredwell 34 off 28 v Middlesex in Canterbury, 2011 - Pressure IMPACT 2.90
Put into bat by Middlesex on a sluggish wicket against a seaming ball the Kent top order capitulated and were reduced to 21-6 in 7 overs. Even though Tredwell is not particularly known for his batting skills this was one occasion where he defied the norms and came out on top against the bowlers. His batting was steady if not brilliant and alongwith Geraint Jones and Wahab Riaz managed to push Kent's total to a challenging 115.
After the first 7 disastrous overs, Kent under Tredwell scored 94 runs off the last 13 and lost only 3 more wickets. Tredwell's innings contained two huge sixes, one of which managed to blow a hole through one of the advertisement hoardings in the deep mid-wicket boundary. His knock of 34 runs in this innings is still his personal best in T20 cricket. Kent won by 9 runs in the end.
3) RE van der Merwe 70 off 49 v Zimbabwe in Centurion, 2008 - Pressure IMPACT 2.88
Batting first Zimbabwe posted a respectable score of 151-6 in 20 overs against Titans in this Standard Bank Pro 20 series match. Coming into the chase, Titans had a horrific start and were soon stuttering at 10-5 for 5 overs when R van der Merwe came in to bat. With nine hits to the boundary and one over it, van der Merwe gave the Titans chase an impetus and suddenly out of nowhere the chase was on.
The batsmen on the other side of van der Merwe though had no plans to entertain his knock and more often than not made a bee line to their own dressing rooms. Even though van der Merwe played a blistering innings of 70 runs off 49 balls, it was eventually not enough for the Titans as they lost the contest by 13 runs. Out of the 129 runs that were scored by Titans during van der Merwe's stay, he had scored 70 out of them. The next highest scorer in the innings after van der Merwe was Phangiso with his 18 runs.
4) GO Jones 27 off 32 v Middlesex in Canterbury, 2011 - Pressure IMPACT 2.70
Earlier in this article we mentioned of Tredwell's highest Pressure IMPACT innings knock against Middlesex in which he scored a match winning 34* off 28 balls. In the same innings of that particular match, another high Pressure IMPACT innings was played out by Kent's wicket keeper Geraint Jones. Jones came in to bat when Kent were 18-5 in 5.4 overs and alongwith Tredwell built a partnership of 35 runs in 34 balls. In the context of Kent's innings that was almost 30% of the total runs scored and goes on to show how both of them absorbed pressure considerably after the early jolts. Even though Jones didn't play a blinder of an innings he made sure that Kent got to a platform from where Tredwell could tee off, which he successfully did at the end.
5) R Elahi 42 off 46 v Madhya Pradesh in Jaipur, 2007 - Pressure IMPACT 2.64
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur is considered to be a tailor-made pitch for the batsmen and has a habit of churning out high scoring games in a regular manner. However in this particular game between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in Jaipur it was a completely different story. Put in to bat, Uttar Pradesh started off in the most disastrous manner possible and were soon rolling down the drain with their scorecard reading 8-5 after 4.4 overs. In stepped 21 year old Rahat Elahi and alongwith Ali Murtaza gave UP's innings a new lease of life as they built a partnership of 81 runs in 88 balls for the 6th wicket under dire circumstances.
Elahi crafted a pain staking innings of 42 runs off 46 balls and dragged UP along to a total of 98 runs in 20 overs. A score they would have happily taken considering the type of start they had got. As fate would have it Madhya Pradesh themselves struggled during the chase and at one point of time were extremely jittery at 77-6. However their lower middle order staved off the UP challenge and managed to win the match with 3 wickets and 10 balls to spare.
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