The magnificent five - II

Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Ganguly – who contributed the most during India’s Golden run in Test cricket

PHASE 5 - October 2008 to January 2012

India P 40 W 17 L 10 D 12.

Notably drew with South Africa both home and away and Sri Lanka away. Beat New Zealand and West Indies away. Beat Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies, England and New Zealand at home. Lost to England and Australia away.

As Ganguly retired as player, India got back its mojo under Dhoni and produced some of its best cricket in a while, reminiscent of Ganguly’s captaincy period (though never quite as aggressive). India went to number 1 in the ICC Test rankings and at the beginning of 2011, after a drawn series in South Africa, perhaps saw visions of three of its four stalwarts leaving the game at their own, and their team’s, peak. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as disastrous showings in England and Australia torpedoed India’s position very rapidly.


Batting IMPACT – The average impact his batting had on matches he played in, on a scale of 0 to 5.
SDs – Series-defining performances. The most important legacy of a cricketer, or at least, what should be.
Failure% - The percentage in this period the player could not achieve an IMPACT of even 1 in the matches he played.

Dravid’s decline as a player seemed to dramatically cease in mid-2011, first in West Indies and then spectacularly in England. These performances camouflage the otherwise mediocre results that Dravid produced – his failure rate crossing 40 for the first time in his career. Sehwag was much the same, especially away. Laxman’s case was interesting; despite a high failure rate (his highest since 2001), he also produced several big match performances under pressure.

It was Tendulkar’s remarkable second wind that led India in this period. He put 4 series-defining performances together – that’s 70% of his series defining performances in a little more than 3 years of his 22-year-old career. Interestingly, despite this, his Batting IMPACT was not stratospheric as Dravid’s had been under Ganguly’s captaincy – partly because some of these series-defining performances came as a support act and partly not as many as Dravid’s in that period were tough runs.

TOP 5 HIGHEST IMPACT BATTING PERFORMANCES OF THIS PERIOD

1. VVS Laxman – 38 & 96 v South Africa, Durban 2010 – Batting IMPACT – 7.03
(Series defining performance)

2. VVS Laxman – 56 & 103 not out v Sri Lanka, Colombo 2010 - Batting IMPACT 6.37
(Series defining performance)

3. SR Tendulkar – 160 v New Zealand, Hamilton 2009 - Batting IMPACT 5.44
(Series defining performance)

4. V Sehwag – 165 v South Africa, Kolkata 2010 - Batting IMPACT 5.20
(Series defining performance)

5. SR Tendulkar – 41 & 54 v Sri Lanka, Colombo 2010 – Batting IMPACT 4.06
(Series defining performance)

Every performance here a series-defining one, once again invoking the Ganguly era. Laxman and Tendulkar emphatically led the way with 2 such performances each. Interesting, that nos. 2 and 5 are from the same match, when India beat Sri Lanka in the 3rd Test to draw their first Test series there in 13 years. Sehwag, who had a very good phase, comes in too. Significantly, there is no Dravid for the first time since 2001.

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Sehwag’s rapid-fire 83 and Tendulkar’s unbeaten 103 v England, Chennai 2008. Their Batting IMPACT numbers in that match were 2.77 and 3.77 respectively – considerably romanticised for the 387-run fourth innings chase, without taking into account the runs in the pitch (Yuvraj and Gambhir shared their impact in that innings itself) and the highest impact player of that match actually was Andrew Strauss, who got a century in both innings (and should have been Man-of-the-Match instead of Sehwag). A good example of how romanticism (of the seemingly formidable fourth-innings-chase) dominates hard facts – the events of the first four days completely overlooked.

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