Kohli’s incandescence provides some oxygen

Virat Kohli was the highest impact player in the match against Pakistan (183 off 148 balls, IMPACT 8.99).

Asia Cup: India v Pakistan 5th ODI at Mirpur; 18th March 2012

Pakistan 329/6; India 330/4 (India won by 6 wickets)

The scorecard of the match is here.

On a pitch where the bowlers felt like they were in front of a firing squad with a partisan crowd cheering their massacre on, batsmen from both sides revelled in the notion that they were invincible for a while. The team with the batsman who made that feeling last the longest ran away with the match.

Pakistan blundered by winning the toss and batting first on two counts -  one, because setting a score on such a flat pitch is next to impossible…and two, because this Indian team’s strength is chasing.

Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir are the two highest impact chasing batsmen in the history of ODI cricket…not just for India (as we had elaborated here last month). And with Raina and Dhoni in the team as finishers, only a really off day for India would have given Pakistan a chance. Not today – as India polished off the highest run chase in their history…and they needed just Kohli primarily to do so.

Here are the match performances through Impact Index.





Observations:

Virat Kohli was the highest impact player in the match (183 off 148 balls, IMPACT 8.99). This is the highest impact innings Kohli has played in his career so far – it had everything – Pressure IMPACT (for coming in at 0 for 1), Strike Rate IMPACT (for scoring at a rate well above the match standard) and Chasing IMPACT (for traversing a huge distance till the target). Not for nothing is Virat Kohli today the second-highest impact batsman in the history of ODI cricket for India (minimum 75 matches), after Sachin Tendulkar.

Sachin Tendulkar (52 off 48, Batting IMPACT 2.87) looked like a freer and much more exciting version of the player we had seen for a year, since he had been bogged down by that utterly meaningless statistical monument built up by the media. Unfortunately, as has also happened in the course of those moments when he has assumed this fluency in recent times, he didn’t last long – but it still provided a strong foundation for the chase.

Rohit Sharma (68 off 83, IMPACT 2.74) built on that foundation with Kohli and came one step closer to establishing his place in this team (for which Tendulkar probably has to vacate his, an issue which has now become a gigantic elephant in the room).
  
Pakistan would have felt none of the despondency at the end, at the mid-innings break. The score of 329 looked like a match-winning one, thanks to their two openers.

Nasir Jamshed’s maiden century was the second-highest batting impact performance (112 off 104, IMPACT 3.99) in the match followed by that of Mohammed Hafeez’s (105 off 113, IMPACT 3.20). Even though both provided a great start to Pakistan (220-odd in 35 overs), they were not spared by the curse of trying to set a target on such featherbeds – where nothing is really enough. Given how the narrative of the match unfolded, both actually ended up with negative Strike Rate IMPACT numbers – which seems shocking given their conventional strike-rates of 93 and 108.

Mohammad Hafeez (105 off 113, 1 for 42 in 9 overs, Match IMPACT 5.31*) was the highest impact player for Pakistan and was the only one to have an all-round impact in the match (both Batting and Bowling IMPACT over 1). Hafeez’s career ODI Impact of 3.16 is the highest amongst all the contemporary Pakistani players, even ahead of Shahid Afridi (2.97) who himself has had a spectacular year-and-a-half with the ball. This just goes on to show how players like Hafeez have a big impact by simply doing the basics right consistently, without necessarily producing the high profile performance all the time.

On a pitch that reduced the bowlers to extras on a film set, Ashok Dinda emerged as the highest impact bowler in the match for his figures of 2 for 47 in his 8 overs (Bowling IMPACT 2.72). He was very closely followed by Umar Gul (2 for 65 in 8.5 overs, Bowling IMPACT 2.36) and Praveen Kumar (2 for 77 in 10 overs, Bowling IMPACT 2.17).

In a match that was packed with huge batting partnerships, R Ashwin, Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul were the bowlers who managed to have a partnership breaking impact while bowling.

The pace bowlers particularly were picked out for special treatment by the batsmen and barring Ashok Dinda, all the other pace bowlers had a negative Economy IMPACT in this match. In comparison, all the spinners (including the part-timers) had a positive Economy IMPACT. Considering the fact that the final is going to be played on the same track, the inclusion of Abdur Rehman (as an extra spinner) in place of Wahab Riaz might be a smart choice for Pakistan.

Overall, India’s Team IMPACT in the match was 1.85 compared to Pakistan’s 1.41. A comprehensive win but still not assured to reach the final – India has to await the result of the next game between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

On the 5th death anniversary of Bob Woolmer, this is perhaps a good time for India to remember their 2007 debacle too – as they endure a very similar fate as they did then, of waiting for someone else to clarify their own, and a loss against Bangladesh to blame for it. Sachin Tendulkar fans, still celebrating their God’s ersatz aggregate statistical achievement, don’t seem to quite realise this. Perhaps beating Pakistan once is enough for that lot.


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