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Chasing woes

Published Jun 15, 2012 01:11pm

Pakistan’s efforts while chasing totals in one-day international (ODI) cricket have been on the decline ever since Inzamam-ul-Haq hung his boots, Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik began struggling - due to on-field and off-field issues - to make it to the ODI squads and Younis Khan reserved his best for Test cricket only.

Let’s take a statistical look into the pre-Inzamam-retirement era (2004 to 2007) and the period that proceeded Inzamam (2009 onwards). Statistics from 2008 have not been included since Pakistan, save Asia Cup, hardly played any competitive cricket that year.

Pakistan’s batting, while chasing in particular, has been in a state of difficulty over the years. Since the start of 2009, they have successfully chased a target of 250-plus in ODIs only three times – twice against South Africa in same series in UAE in 2010 and, a few months later, against New Zealand in 2011.

Narrowing down the figures to targets of 230, the numbers are abysmally stacked against Pakistan. Since January 2009, they have failed on 18 out of 23 occasions when set a total in excess of 230. This win-loss ratio (27 per cent) leaves them at seventh spot, just ahead of Bangladesh and West Indies.

New Zealand, at sixth, maintain a W/L ratio of 55 per cent which is almost double to that of Pakistan’s 27 per cent.

South Africa and India maintain the best percentages. In their failed attempts, the Proteas, have usually come within touching distance of their targets, which these stats don’t reflect.

Bangladesh, who shocked India at this year’s Asia Cup in Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th-century match with a successful chase, managed four wins during the period, but two of those were against a West Indian side who were playing with their fringe squad in 2009 due to their senior players’ dispute with West Indies Cricket Board. One of their wins was against Zimbabwe.

Teams while chasing target of 230-plus in ODI Cricket since 1st January, 2009 [excluding NR/Tie]
Country W/L Ratio Matches Won Lost
1. South Africa 1.28 16 09 07
2. India 1.25 36 20 16
3. Sri Lanka 0.77 32 14 18
4. Australia 0.72 19 08 11
5. England 0.56 25 09 16
6. New ZeaLand 0.55 14 05 09
7. Pakistan 0.27 23 05 18
8. Bangladesh 0.26 19 04 15
9. West Indies 0.05 18 01 17
India’s success largely correlates with the form of two of their star batsmen, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir, who show up as leading second-innings run-getters in the period.

If Kohli’s bulk of runs (2268), at more than an ideal average (59.68) and brisk strike rate (88.76 per cent) isn’t surprising enough, consider that he scored each of his seven centuries in an Indian win. It took Tendulkar five years and 40 ODI innings to score his first century while chasing a target. Kohli in four years and 46 matches has already got seven.

No Pakistani makes the top-ten list of such batsmen, let alone the top 20.

Batsmen in 2nd innings of ODI Cricket since 1st January, 2009.
Player Innings Runs Average S. Rate 100s
1. Virat Kohli 46 2268 59.68 88.76 7
2. Gautam Gambhir 38 1747 52.93 90.05 3
3. Shane Watson 32 1642 60.81 96.87 4
4. TM Dilshan 38 1597 45.62 98.45 6
5. K. Sangakkara 42 1583 43.97 82.57 1
Looking back at the period between 2004 and 2008, the situation wasn’t that bad for Pakistan. They had the third best W/L Ratio (89 per cent) of chasing 230-plus targets. Only Australia and South Africa were better than them then.

It is worth mentioning that until 2004, Pakistan had never chased 300 in ODIs. In between 2004 and 2008, they chased it thrice (each time against India). The fourth and last time they chased such total was in mid-2008 again against India in the Asia Cup. On their tour of Australia in early 2005, they successfully chased targets in Brisbane and Perth twice. The following year, Younis Khan designed one remarkable chase in a day-night fixture against England at the Rose Bowl.

There were also fantastic chases in the BCCI Platinum Jubilee match at the Eden Garden against India in 2004 and against Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy 2006 Match at Jaipur. The former relied on Salman Butt’s maiden ODI century, while the latter will be remembered for one of Abdul Razzaq’s cameos.

Teams chasing target of 230-plus in ODI from 1st January, 2004 to 1st January 2008 [excluding NR/Tie]
Country W/L Ratio Matches Won Lost
1. Australia 1.37 19 11 08
2. South Africa 1.16 27 14 12
3. Pakistan 0.89 36 17 19
4. India 0.81 41 18 22
5. New Zealand 0.68 27 11 06
6. Sri Lanka 0.60 16 06 10
7. England 0.53 23 08 15
8. West Indies 0.52 32 11 21
9. Bangladesh 0.15 23 03 20
For more than a decade and half now, Pakistan have been struggling to establish a solid opening pair. Perhaps, it has rubbed off on their middle-order too. The middle-order’s shortcomings of the last few years are evident from the table below where they stand at number seven in terms of average, only ahead of West Indies and New Zealand. Their strike rate (72.87) is the worst among all.

Since January 2009, only two centuries have been scored by their middle order in second innings – one by Kamran Akmal in dead-rubber of 2009 Australia series, and the other by Shahid Afridi in a losing cause in the 2010 Asia Cup. However, while batting at number seven, Abdul Razzaq did score one, South Africa facing the brunt of his incredible assault in Abu Dhabi in 2010. This hitherto is the last century scored by a non-opening Pakistan batsmen in either innings of an ODI.

Middle-order Batsmen (Number 3, 4, 5, 6 positions) in 2nd innings of ODI Cricket since 1st January, 2009
Team Matches Batsmen Runs Average Strike Rate 100s
1. India 56 12 6983 45.94 84.52 11
2.Australia 37 16 4225 44.94 78.09 05
3. South Africa 27 13 3248 41.11 85.58 04
4. Sri Lanka 45 17 4584 37.57 77.87 04
5. England 40 16 3830 32.18 78.90 03
6. Bangladesh 40 13 3917 31.84 74.39 04
7. Pakistan 43 16 3888 31.10 72.87 02
8. West Indies 36 24 3121 29.44 73.73 02
9. New Zealand 30 18 2420 26.59 73.89 02
Not long ago, when Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik were in harness, Pakistan’s middle-order batting average (38.23) was second only to Australia’s (47.13). Also their compilation of runs (6080) was only behind India (6731), who played 12 more matches than Pakistan during the period.
Middle-order Batsmen (No. 3, 4, 5, 6 positions) in ODI 2nd innings from 1st Jan 2004 to 1st Jan 2008
Team Matches Batsmen Runs Average Strike Rate 100s
1. Australia 46 17 4195 47.13 77.91 03
2. Pakistan 51 16 6080 38.23 76.31 04
3. Sri Lanka 38 18 3508 37.72 73.83 02
4. India 63 19 6731 35.61 77.98 05
5. South Africa 51 21 4687 34.71 76.22 03
6. England 48 17 4633 33.33 75.87 03
7. New Zealand 47 17 4374 33.13 77.21 06
8. West Indies 55 18 5342 31.98 75.26 04
9. Bangladesh 41 16 3339 27.14 68.78 01
The remarkable aspect of Pakistan’s successful run chases during Inzamam’s tenure was that they didn’t rely on one batsman, everyone chipped in his own way. Yousuf and Younis could build in the middle and later duties were fulfilled by Inzi himself and Malik. At this stage of his career, Malik had a double role – batting at one down if the situation required or coming in as a dasher later in the order.

Five Pakistan batsmen had 500-plus runs in successful run chases between January 2004 and January 2008. All with dandy averages.

Pakistan batsmen in 2nd innings of matches won From 1st Jan ’04 to 1st Jan ’08 [Qualification: 500 runs]
Name Innings Not out Runs Average HS S. Rate 100s 50s
1. Inzamam-ul-Haq 18 08 644 64.40 76* 83.31 0 4
2. Mohammad Yousuf 25 09 971 60.68 107* 65.87 1 7
3. Salman Butt 14 01 531 40.84 108* 73.64 2 1
4. Shoaib Malik 27 05 897 40.77 90 83.59 0 7
5. Younis Khan 19 03 620 38.75 117 77.79 2 3
Then Inzamam retired, Yousuf couldn’t carry on as regular in the team basis due to his off-field issues with board, while Malik failed to build on his reputation. Younis is still facing a slump in limited-over form.

Now, Misbah-ul-Haq has an average of 110.00 in winning causes, which is one of the best in the world during this period. Only MS Dhoni and Michael Clarke are come close. But one crucial factor is his strike rate (68.60), which gives a doesn’t help his numbers too much. But then Mohammad Yousuf (65.87), as mentioned in the previous table, had an even worst strike rate than Misbah’s.

This is most likely due to the lack of support given on the crease to Misbah, who is playing the role of a Yousuf. Yousuf, however, had Inzamam and Malik for company to speed things up in the latter stages of the chase.

Since 2009, only two of the Pakistan batsmen have reached 500-plus runs in successful run chases. Hafeez has 578 runs, out of which 340 runs came against Zimbabwe and West Indies, his performance against tougher oppositions is still a concern.

Pakistan batsmen in 2nd innings of matches won since January 2009 [Qualification: 500 runs minimum]
Name Innings Not out Runs Average HS S. Rate 100s 50s
1. Misbah-ul-Haq 16 10 660 110.00 93* 68.60 0 6
2. Mohammad Hafeez 18 02 578 36.12 139* 76.55 1 3
Over the period where their batsmen have struggled, Pakistan’s bowling has provided the ‘wow’ factor.

Since 2009, Pakistan boasts the best economy rate in first innings among top ODI teams. Also their average (30.65) comes only behind New Zealand and Australia. The economy of 4.73 signifies that on average, Pakistan restricts teams to under 240 [4.73 multiply by 50 overs is equal to 237]. This 240, unfortunately, is too much for their batting.

Economy Rates in 1st innings of ODI Cricket since 1st January, 2009.
Team Bowlers Overs Maidens Wickets Runs Average Economy
1. Pakistan 45 2006.5 108 310 9503 30.65 4.73
2. New Zealand 36 1451.5 74 236 7074 29.97 4.87
3. Australia 41 1790.2 72 299 8805 29.44 4.91
4. West Indies 48 1684.2 76 271 8318 30.69 4.93
5. Bangladesh 31 1869.3 101 300 9267 30.89 4.95
6. England 40 1924.1 75 293 9807 33.47 5.09
7. South Africa 30 1295.3 56 205 6651 32.44 5.13
8. Sri Lanka 34 2202.5 81 326 11363 34.85 5.15
9. India 42 2742.2 126 390 14205 36.42 5.17


Mazher Arshad is a Cricket buff based in Islamabad who considers watching Cricket and giving insights of it as his foremost priority on social media. He tweets @cricket_U


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.