Pakistan’s Highest Impact ODI Players

Bowlers dominate Pakistan’s impact charts in a format of the game naturally dominated by all-rounders and batsmen.

ODI cricket history through Impact Index – part 1

Interestingly, all the major cricket-playing nations are involved in bilateral ODI cricket in the next 2 months (perhaps for the last time in such a concentrated period – this is almost like a solar eclipse, in a cricketing context). We take this opportunity to present a perspective on each country’s ODI cricket history over the next few weeks.

We begin with Pakistan. From 1973 to 2012 (before the current series in Sri Lanka), Pakistan played 772 matches and won 416 with a win-loss ratio of 1.25. Their highest score is 385, lowest 43. They won the World Cup in 1992 and reached the final in 1999.

We present three lists – of players, batsmen and bowlers. The minimum qualification to be on these lists is to have played 75 matches. A match is considered in this system only when there is a result, and if the player has bowled or batted, as the case may be.

Here are the highest impact ODI players in their history.

It is interesting that bowlers dominate Pakistan’s impact charts in a format of the game naturally dominated by all-rounders and batsmen. Given the outstanding bowlers Pakistan has produced over the years, that should not be a surprise.

It is interesting also to note that Wasim Akram was not an all-rounder technically (he did not cross an IMPACT of 1 in batting) – he was easily the biggest big match player in Pakistan’s history though – and his 12 SDs (series/tournament-defining performances) tally puts him at the very top with Sanath Jayasuriya in ODI cricket history in this regard (8 of these 12 performances came just from bowling; the remaining 4 were all-round efforts). He also is the second-highest impact captain for Pakistan (after Imran Khan – who is, not surprisingly, up there as an all-round player as well). 

Shahid Afridi is interestingly a higher impact bowler than a batsman in this format and despite just captaining in 33 matches, a successful leader as well, at least on paper (an important point which is otherwise lost in all the controversies around him). His tally of 7 SDs makes him the second-highest impact big match player in Pakistan’s ODI history.

Mohammed Hafeez’s all-round effectiveness is largely lost in conventional analysis – his overall consistency makes him a very high impact player. Aamer Sohail very narrowly makes it as an all-rounder (Bowling IMPACT just touches 1) – he was a big match player as well. Saqlain Mushtaq, Abdul Qadir and Waqar Younis are the other specialist bowlers on this high impact list.

The specialist batsmen come later on this list - Saleem Malik (at 15) and Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad and Saeed Anwar (at 16, 17 and 19).

Moin Khan and Kamran Akmal are the two wicketkeepers on this list – interestingly Moin Khan does not cross a Batting IMPACT of 1 and yet his 3 SD performances register a high impact for him – he was a big match player all right (Akmal has a higher Batting IMPACT but no SD – so his overall impact is lower).

These are the highest impact ODI batsmen in their history.

Perhaps the only big surprise here would be the presence of Salman Butt in the list of highest impact 10 Pakistani batsmen. Though he narrowly passes the minimum qualification of 75 matches, his batting consistency and singular SD suggested a batsman of considerable potential – the 2010 spot-fixing scandal ended a more promising career than what conventional analysis have perhaps indicated. 

Interestingly, Aamer Sohail is the only all-rounder on this list (though, just about).

It is also immensely interesting that Javed Miandad has only 1 series/ tournament-defining performance to his credit in his career – it is one of the most famous ODI moments in Pakistan’s history – and is a great example of how a stirring dramatic moment can form impressions of a player right through a career. 

NOTE: Our minimum qualification is 75 matches, but if we were to reduce that to, say 50, Zaheer Abbas becomes Pakistan’s highest impact batsman ever, by a big distance. His Batting IMPACT of 2.38 (in 62 matches) with one SD also puts him amongst the ten highest impact batsmen in ODI cricket history then. Umar Akmal (58 matches, 1.76) is amongst Pakistan’s ten highest impact batsmen too then.

The stories that unfold on various batting parameters are revealing.

When it comes to Runs Tally IMPACT (proportion of match runs made through career), the highest impact batsmen are Saeed Anwar, Javed Miandad and Rameez Raja.
The highest Strike Rate IMPACT batsmen (highest strike rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Saeed Anwar.

The best Pressure IMPACT batsmen (those who absorbed the most pressure that came about due to fall of wickets) are Javed Miandad, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf.

The batsmen with the highest Partnership Building IMPACT (who built the most partnerships in the middle) are Mohammad Yousuf, Javed Miandad and Misbah-ul-Haq.

The best Chasing IMPACT batsmen (who registered the highest impact while chasing a target) are Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saeed Anwar.

The batsmen with the lowest failure rates (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Saeed Anwar, Javed Miandad and Misbah-ul-Haq.

The Highest Impact Batting Performances in Pakistan’s ODI history

1. Ijaz Ahmed – 139 not out off 84 v India, Lahore, 1997 – Batting IMPACT 12.18
On a pitch where India made heavy weather of scoring 216 (perhaps weighed down with the series at 1-1), Ijaz Ahmed finished the match off (with Afridi) before a relatively weakened Indian attack knew what hit it.

2. Mohammad Yousuf – 129 off 131 v Sri Lanka, Sharjah, 2002 – Batting IMPACT 9.22
Walking in at 33-2 at the Sharjah Cup final, Yousuf Youhana (as he was called then) controlled the innings immaculately and took his team to an unassailable score of 295. A star-studded Sri Lankan batting line-up collapsed for 78 to give that innings mythical status.

3. Javed Miandad – 116 not out v India, Sharjah, 1986 – Batting IMPACT 9.07
Perhaps the most celebrated batting performance in Pakistan’s ODI history, Miandad walked out to bat at 39-2 as Pakistan chased down a more-than-decent 245 at the Australasia Cup Final. He took charge while wickets fell at regular intervals around him, and stood out of his crease with 4 balls required off the last ball. Chetan Sharma produced the perfect full toss and it was swung away for the most debilitating six in Indian cricket history. The innings had an IMPACT of 9.07 within a match context but in a historical context (which cannot yet be measured, despite attempts like this), this was as high impact as a single
blow in cricket has ever got.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. The highest impact batting performance within a match context in Pakistan’s ODI history is Rameez Raja’s 119 off 155 balls against New Zealand in Christchurch,  during the group stages of the 1992 World Cup. Chasing New Zealand’s 166, and coming in at 9-2, Raja compiled 75% of the required runs in about 3 hours of batting. Bizarrely, Mushtaq Ahmed (who took 2-18 in 10 overs) got the Man-of-the-Match award even though his match impact was about 70% below Raja’s.

Ijaz Ahmed’s unbeaten 139 off 84 v India (Lahore, 1997) and Inzamam-ul-Haq’s unbeaten 85 off 67 v New Zealand (Sharjah, 1999) are the next highest impact innings within a match context.

These are the highest impact ODI bowlers in Pakistan’s history.

So, 7 fast/medium bowlers and 3 spinners amongst the highest impact 10 ODI Pakistani bowlers. The usual suspects for the most part, surely.

Imran Khan, predictably, is the only all-rounder on this list (though Azhar Mahmood is also a contender, but like Akram, not an all-rounder based on consistency). It might surprise some to see Shoaib Akhtar registering such a high impact – it is contrary to the public impression about him now, but his Wickets Tally IMPACT tells that story eloquently, as does his big match ability and consistency (he has amongst the lowest failure rates in Pakistan’s ODI history).

NOTE: If we were to reduce minimum qualification for this list to 50 matches instead of 75, Saeed Ajmal (60 matches, 2.07) would be Pakistan’s 6th-highest impact bowler in its ODI history.

The highest impact players in all bowling parameters. 

When it comes to Top/Middle-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (wickets taken from nos. 1-7 in most cases), the highest impact bowlers are Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq and Shoaib Akhtar.

Lower-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (batsmen nos. 8-11) – highest impact bowlers are Saqlain Mushtaq, Umar Gul and Waqar Younis.

The highest Economy IMPACT bowlers (lowest economy rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Mohammad Hafeez.

The highest impact Partnership-breaking bowlers are Mohammad Hafeez, Mudassar Nazar and Azhar Mahmood.

The bowlers with the highest Pressure Building IMPACT (taking quick wickets to put opposition under pressure) are Shoaib Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Wasim Akram.

The bowlers with the lowest failure rate (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Saqlain Mushtaq, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar.

The Highest Impact Bowling Performances in Pakistan’s ODI history

1. Aaqib Javed – 7 for 37 in 10 overs v India, Sharjah, 1991 – Bowling IMPACT 9.99
The bowling equivalent of Miandad’s famous last-ball six off Chetan Sharma was Aaqib Javed’s hat-trick in the same venue 5 years later in the Wills Trophy Final. Chasing 263, India were 47-1 when Shastri, Azharuddin and Tendulkar were dismissed off successive balls – all lbw, by Javed who went on to take 7-37 as India were dismissed for 190 in 46 overs. India’s struggles at Sharjah became par-for-the-course, especially against Pakistan.

2. Abdul Qadir – 4 for 9 in 10 overs v New Zealand, Sharjah, 1986 – Bowling IMPACT 6.83
In the semi-final of the Australasia Cup, Akram and Imran had already reduced New Zealand to 18-4 when Qadir came on. Despite Evan Gray’s persistence, New Zealand could do nothing at all, as Qadir completely choked up the Kiwis, while taking the next 4 wickets.

3. Azhar Mahmood – 5 for 28 in 10 overs v Sri Lanka, Sharjah, 1999 – Bowling IMPACT 6.77
In Pakistan’s happy hunting ground yet again, Sri Lanka chased a seemingly gettable 212 in the Coca-Cola Cup final, but Akram and Razzaq had Sri Lanka at 50-3 before Mahmood came on to bowl – he took the next 5 wickets and finished off the match swiftly, as Sri Lanka collapsed for 123 in 36 overs.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. The highest impact bowling performance within a match context in Pakistan’s ODI history is the first one in the above list – Aaqib Javed’s 7-37, which included a hat-trick as well. Waqar Younis 7-36 v England (Leeds, 2001) and Azhar Mahmood’s 6-18 v West Indies (Sharjah, 1999) are the next highest impact bowling performances in a match context.

It is interesting that a few high impact performances here, both with bat and ball, are coming in circumstances where they seem almost like support performances but actually, in the overall context of the match (and the history of ODI cricket – given how often things come unstuck from seemingly winning positions), they assume (and deserve) much more importance than they really get conventionally.

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