By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar
Pakistan won the Asia Cup but the 3 highest impact players of the tournament included 2 Bangladeshis and 1 Indian. Pakistan played as a team, absorbed pressure very successfully and won the big moments. They were worthy winners.
Here is an overview of the series through the Impact Index lens.
Shakib Al Hasan was the highest impact player in the series. He was also the second-highest impact batsman in the tournament. He had the highest Strike Rate IMPACT while absorbing considerable pressure in the tournament. He recorded three IMPACT 5 match performances in the tournament and failed only once as a bowler in the match against India (where he still contributed as a batsman though).
He was closely followed by Tamim Iqbal (third-highest impact player in the tournament). Tamim registered the highest Chasing IMPACT for Bangladesh in the tournament, absorbed a considerable amount of pressure while batting and recorded a 0% failure rate like Shakib as a batsman.
Virat Kohli was the highest impact batsman of the tournament and the second highest impact player. He registered the highest Chasing IMPACT in the series and also absorbed the maximum pressure for India, all this while recording a healthy Strike Rate IMPACT. His innings of 183 was the highest impact batting performance in the series. He was also the highest impact fielder in the tournament.
Three Pakistanis follow on the IMPACT list – all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez, wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed and Shahid Afridi.
Interestingly, Mohammed Hafeez was also the only player besides Shakib to have an all-round impact in the tournament. He was also the highest impact batsman for Pakistan in the tournament.
Sarfraz Ahmed was the highest impact wicketkeeper-batsman in the tournament. His attacking effort as a batsman in the final match helped Pakistan post a total that ended up being enough as Bangladesh cracked up under pressure near the end – that performance and his Wicketkeeping IMPACT in that match together achieved a Tournament-Defining status.
Shahid Afridi had a mediocre tournament by his standards (even missing out on all-rounder status as his Batting IMPACT failed to cross 1 in the tournament) but he largely made up for it with a quintessential all-round performance in the finals which achieved Tournament-Defining status.
Kumar Sangakkara is next on the impact charts - Sri Lanka’s highest impact player in the tournament for his dual wicketkeeper-batsman role. He was the second-highest impact batsman for Sri Lanka – his hallmark was maintaining a positive Strike Rate IMPACT despite absorbing pressure.
Sri Lanka, visibly tired from their exertions at the CB Series in Australia were largely uninspiring otherwise. Their highest impact bowler Malinga failed to take any wickets in the tournament, a big reason for their flatness.
Umar Gul was the highest impact bowler in the tournament for Pakistan followed by Saeed Ajmal. Gul was the second-highest impact bowler in the tournament when it came to building pressure (quick wickets) and had the highest Partnership Breaking IMPACT in the tournament. Ajmal was amongst the top 5 bowlers in the tournament for Economy IMPACT and also showed ability to break partnerships.
Typically, most of the attention when it came to Bangladesh’s performance went to the batsmen, but Nazmul Hossain’s contribution cannot be ignored. He was the highest impact bowler for Bangladesh in the series but played just 2 matches as he missed the first 2 ODIs.
Nazmul showed the ability to clean top/middle order wickets, alongside Umar Gul. In fact, Bangladesh’s top 5 bowlers in the tournament were also amongst top 10 bowlers in the tournament – the biggest key to their success – not something that too many people seemed to speak about.
MS Dhoni with a Batting IMPACT of 1.39 (overall 2.58) and R Ashwin with a Bowling IMPACT of 2.45 were the highest impact Indian players after Kohli. Tendulkar was next, with an IMPACT of 2.30 – actually, he can be seen as a high impact player for Bangladesh – they owe him greatly, as his selfish batting in the India-Bangladesh match, when he went after an oppressively elusive utterly meaningless statistical landmark, resulted in a team score that was at least 30 runs short on that pitch. Blaming the bowlers for not being able to defend 290 on that pitch is myopia of the highest order that only the unique brand of blind Tendulkar-worship in our country can inspire.
The fact that the next highest impact player for India after Kohli, Dhoni, features 13th on the list above, isn’t a healthy sign as a team for India. If one excludes Kohli, India’s Team IMPACT in the tournament goes down to 1.50 from 1.87, the same as Sri Lanka’s who failed to win even a single game in the tournament.
Pakistan’s Team IMPACT in the tournament was 2.00, well ahead of India (1.87), Bangladesh (1.84) and Sri Lanka (1.50). Only one Sri Lankan crossed a Match IMPACT of 5 at any stage during the series, Bangladesh and India registered 3 of those. Pakistan had 6 – perhaps the most revealing facet of their victory, despite just winning by 2 runs in the final. There is no doubt that the best side won.
For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com