Reviews, Opinions, Analyses, Stats and Numbers

T20 World Cups - Runs Scored and Conceded Per Over by All Teams


India vs Pakistan Cricket - Contest beyond just Cricket

Growing up watching Miandad and Imran stepping into the peak of their careers and transforming Pakistan team from a 'good-contest' to a fierce competitor, I always considered myself lucky to have witnessed that transformation. Along the way, also came that fascinating period of total dominance of Pakistan over the arch rivals, India.

There was a time - that was the time - when Pakistan almost always had the psychological upper hand over the arch rivals and it was Indians who always looked nervous, unsure and mentally not ready to snatch a victory from Pakistan's grasps. On the other hand, Pakistanis simply looked more confident, sure and ready to win over India from any situation. That last ball sixer by Miandad seemed to have not only dented the hoarding in Sharjah Stadium but also the psyche and self-belief of Indian team as well. There were countless games after that Sharjah game where India could have won but when it turned from a game of Cricket to a game of nerves, Pakistanis seemed to make Indians blink first and lose the games from winning positions more because of panic and nervousness rather than Cricketing capability itself. 

Times have changed, situation has been reversed and tables have been turned. Being still a passionate supporter of Pakistan team and having the luxury of comparing 'that past' and 'this present' based on my personal experience and observation, I am left with no option but to acknowledge that Pakistan team of today has turned exactly into the Indian team of 80s. That Indian team of 80s didn't lack the quality, skill or individual brilliance either. They still had Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Shastri and young Sachin but for one reason or the other, they didn't seem ready to put up a fight when it came to facing Pakistan team of that era. 

Since then - the exit of Imran and Javed - there have been many games in between where Pakistan also managed to win quite a few but when it comes to the peak of pressure and test of nerves, self belief and confidence, nothing can come close to India Pakistan games than at the World Cups and other ICC events. 

It all started, probably, in Benglore back in 1996 when Ajay Jadeja decided to take on Waqar Younus at his peak and managed to thrash him all around the park. Probably that's when, for a change, Indians showed the self belief on a pressure stage while Pakistanis succumbed to the pressure of the occasion. Saeed and Aamir, and later Miandad and Rashid did put up a fight but that was not enough. Probably that's when Indians announced the reversal of fortunes between India and Pakistan at the greatest stage of all, ironically, in the game that turned out to be the last of Miandad - the same man who dented their confidence some 10 years ago. 

From then on, it has been just one way traffic. The same theme and posturing of characters only with difference in faces and tactical details. Be it Misbah failing to score a single off last two balls in the first ever T20 clash between the sides back in 2007 or failing to score 5 off last 4 balls later in the finals of the same World Cup or Sachin and Sehwag blunting arguably the most ferocious pace attack of Pakistan's history in 2003  World Cup or Pakistanis spilling 4 chances of Sachin before going into a mystery nap while chasing at Mohali in 2011 World Cup or Pakistani team doing the repeat of 2011 World Cup in 2015 World Cup at Adelaide or even that game of 1999 World Cup where a weaker ranked Indian side nailed arguably the best ODI side of Pakistan's history that had the luxury of going on to beat everyone with someone like Waqar Younus warming the bench, there has been a common theme to the proceedings. 

That common theme has been the nervousness, anxiety and lack of self belief in Pakistan team while facing India. On one side, from Sachin to Kohli, Indians have managed to step up their game during the contests carrying highest level of pressure in any game anywhere in Cricket, while on the other side, Pakistan has managed to display self-inflicted choke one  after the another. They have simply not showed up for a fight on the day of the duel and succumbed under the pressure again and again. 

The latest game between the two sides - Asia Cup encounter in Dhaka - has followed the same theme. The Pakistan team looked nervous, anxious, unsettled and unsure all throughout except for that spell from Amir. Amir and his individual performance can go the same way like the occasional individual performances of some Indian players back in the time of Pakistan's dominance - brilliant but not good enough. Even through that period of brilliance from Amir, the Indians looked more assured, confident, calm and settled as compared to Pakistanis. And, if we have to put it this way, Kohli casted the same effect on the game that Miandad used to do to Indians back in his days. 

It is now safe to say that from established best, Pakistan team has silently transformed into established second best. Reasons can be many but not all are Cricketing ones. The difference between India and Pakistan Cricket is, now, not Cricket but professionalism and self belief. 

Pakistan has simply surrendered to psychological dominance of India and they don't seem to be coming out of it any time soon. More than Cricketing skills, if Pakistan has to change the pattern of results, it will have to address the lacking in professionalism and self belief. Else, it will be just another day, another venue, another show but the same theme and the same results, that is, India dominating and outsmarting Pakistan yet another time. 

PSL 2016 - Players Impact Recap

With Islamabad United convincingly defeating Quetta Gladiators, PSL 2016 has come to an end. Here is a look at the performers in PSL 2016 based on T20 Performance Impact Method

TOP Players

All Players

Team Aggregates


PSL 3rd Play Off - More than just a Play-Off

One game away from the Final, PSL couldn't have pulled out a better competition than that of between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.

On the face of it, its just another game, another encounter between two competing sides to meet the Finalist. Beneath the surface, its going to be a battle of approaches, materialization of that hypothetical scenario that is favorite point of debate for all Pakistani fans, the debate that is never ending and that never got its deserving stage to be put under assessment. The bleak probability of this contest happening again, at a stage as big as this, is what raises the stakes even higher. Its more of a winner takes all and that too for once for all.

Its not just about Peshawar and Islamabad. Its not about being United or being Zalmi either.
Its about the team Misbah and the team Afridi. For years and years, these two immovable stalwarts of Pakistan Cricket have been seen not only just as players but a face to a playing strategy as well. They are seen as torch bearers of two approaches that fall at 180 degree offset of each other. Nothing can define the contrast more than the tag names itself - the tuk tuk and the boom boom

What we can expect? On one side, we can expect to see the classical fearless - at times, to the extent of senseless as well - sprint to the pole and on the other side we can expect the considerate walk to victory. If there was any possibility of creating the Cricketing version of "The Hare and The Tortoise" story, then it will never get a better opportunity to be materialized than tonight. 

Its going to be an All-Pakistani version of classic 'Flare versus Method' in all senses. Probably something very close to Pakistan vs South Africa Semi Final back in 2009 T20 World Cup. At that time, it was the flare that got better of the method. What happens here is yet to be seen. 

But whatever happens, it is going to be one most remembered and referred game in that Afridi vs Misbah debate for years to come. Who comes out on top and walks away with the bragging rights? The revelation is just a few hours away. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for the ride. 

GLADIATORS - The Asserted Identity

What the name GLADIATOR has to do with Cricket? How can a team adopt the identity of warriors of two millennium ago who earned their living by entertaining the audiences with their blood and sweat?

If those were the unanswered questions, last night was the night of answers. Quetta Gladiators justified the latter part of their identity for good. 

Dubai Cricket Stadium was filled like a Colosseum of entertainment starved audience gathered to see nothing but a fight of two contingents thirsty for each others Cricketing blood. The crowd wanted a battle not a fight, not a one sided annihilation of one by the other and they got what they wished for.

On a pitch where batting second after winning the toss seemed the undisputed conclusion and the possibility of getting heavier and heavier, as evident as the night only going to get darker, Gladiators started with the disadvantage of losing the toss and as early as on the second ball in of the game, when Bismillah Khan perished, they were put to fight for their survival. However hard they tried, the whole team was blown away like a pack of cards except the two men who stood like the true seasoned and war-hardened GLADIATORS. The ones who did not only weathered the earlier storm but created a whirlwind of their own to turn the tides. Sanga and KP, while they were wise enough to see off the spirited assault of two rookie warriors - Hassan Ali and Asghar - they also had the mastery and shrewdness not to let the pros of the opponent camp - Tait and Afridi - settle down. It looked decisive till it lasted, till the opponents nailed them down along with other GLADIATORS through brilliance of their own. 

At the halfway mark, it looked all done and dusted for Quetta. By all assessments, they were at least 25 to 30 runs short. At the end of 4th over and scorecard reading 29, the Gladiators were literally on the mat. The arrival of heavy dew wouldn't have made things easier for them. But for their credit, they fought it off, till the very end and turned the game from thereon. 

Anyone present at the venue could notice the amount of dew that had come down on the particular night and it definitely looked at least twice as much as compared to any other night. When people left the venue, everyone could see their cars not just moist due to dew but actually dripping wet like it drizzled or rained for a while. Only hours after the game finished, the whole Dubai was engulfed with blinding fog reducing the visibility to as low as 5 feet. That was the extent of the dew factor that the GLADIATORS had to overcome. Then on a ground with shortened boundaries, 160 looked the par score and anything less than that looked like a walk in the park for any chasing side.

But ...... the GLADIATORS refused to bow down and lose their will to stand back up and fight. They stood up for their pride and honor like true GLADIATORS and eventually came out victorious. It turned out to be the kind of display that left even opponents with nothing but the feeling of praise for the GLADIATORS. Deservingly, the audience cheered them on for their show and only to comeback another day, another time to see the GLADIATORS living up to their name again, may be as early as in couple of days time. But whatever happens on Tuesday, GLADIATORS have already validated their claim to the name and there is no reason but to except nothing but another GLADIATOR show. 

GLADIATORS are here to stay, better watch out for them.


PSL 2016 - Player Impact View

As the first round of PSL came to an end and the play offs are about to begin, here is the summary of Player performances based on T20 Performance Impact method


Teams and Players

For details on calculation method, click here


T20 - Performance Impact Method

Cricket is a game rich of stats and numbers. Usually, it needs a lot of it to extract the value of any performance in Cricket and there are reasons for it. (See Cricket - a game of unusually high amount of stats and numbers. Why?)

For decades, there has been a traditional method of recording performance stats to highlight the value of any performance in Cricket and it has served the purpose, somewhat, for Traditional Cricket - Tests and ODIs. That method aims at highlighting certain aspects depending on the nature of Cricket - for example, batting average and bowling strike rates for Tests and combination of batting runs and batting strike rate and combination of wickets and bowling economy for ODIs.

T20 is a bit different in that sense. Unlike other formats of Cricket - Tests and ODIs - players get much shorter time to express their skills and it does not need a player to perform for a relatively longer period to make an impact on the game. The game changes in even just a couple of deliveries. A couple of wickets in quick succession, a maiden over, couple of under-4-runs overs, 3 successive boundaries, a quick fire 25 or 30 runs on 10 balls or even 10 in 3 balls - all of such events, most of the times, result in irreversible impact on the game.

For example, in Tests, a batsman is supposed to either score runs at all costs or don't get out, therefore, the idea of excluding the 'Not Outs' from the calculation of  Batting Average looks appropriate. Similarly, the primary objective of bowling in Test Cricket is to take 20 wickets even if it comes at higher economy, so Strike Rate carries higher significance in judging the bowler than economy of his bowling.
In ODIs, a batsman's value is judged mostly by the amount of runs, 100s and 50s scored. Averages or Strike Rates don't catch the eye unless they are either too high or too low but they alone are not used to judge a batsman. In bowling, its the economy and number of wickets that takes the precedence while average and strike rates gets the same consideration as batting average and strike rate.

It all changes in T20. T20 is impact Cricket where a player has to make an impact in a shorter span and has to keep making it in successive spans to avoid getting the initial impact stand neutralized or ineffective. The batting average usually does not carry that much weightage as in Tests or ODIs as it runs scored does not consider to be having an impact unless it is with certain strike rate. In fact, scoring more runs with lower strike rate is what, at times, make it look even worse than not scoring them at all.

Then, the bowling in T20 is seen somewhere in the middle of Tests and ODIs. Like ODIs, the objective is still to restrict the opponents from scoring runs but there is no better and more efficient way of doing it than taking wickets at regular intervals like in Test Cricket. That's what gives the Economy and Bowling Strike Rate more significance while evaluating value of a performance or a player.

T20 Cricket is still evolving but it has already been played enough for some generic performance benchmarks to be set that can be applied to calculate the impact of a performance.
Batting Strike Rate of 130 and an average of 30 is what is generally considered as a benchmark for a good T20 innnings. 50s and 100s still carry its significance as scoring a 50 or a 100 in such a short span has to be considered an achievement in itself as well.
For Bowling, its the Economy of less than 8 runs per over and strike rate of 12 (2 wickets in 4 overs bowled) that can be considered as a benchmark for a good performance.

That's what gave birth to the idea to have a different kind of stats method for T20s that can take meaning of numbers closer to how a performance is interpreted by a common mind. Just like the traditional method, it gives only comparative view of impact of a performance or a player, not an absolute view in the context of winning or losing a game.

In summary, following are the aspects and calculations on which this method works:

Batting Performance Impact:

  1. Batting Strike Rate Benchmark : 130 runs per 100 balls
  2. Batting Average Benchmark : 30 runs per dismissal
  3. Performance Benchmark : 130 (SR) + 30 (Average) = 160 
  4. Quality = (Strike Rate + Average) / Performance Benchmark 
  5. Frequency = Balls Faced / Match
  6. Player Impact = Quality x Frequency
  7. 100Factor = 100s scored / matches played
  8. 50 Factor = 50s scored / matches played
Batting Impact  = Player Impact + (Player Impact x 100Factor) + (Player Impact x 50Factor/2)

Bowling Performance Impact:
  1. Economy Benchmark : 8 runs an over
  2. Strike Rate Benchmark : 12 (2 wickets in 4 overs)
  3. Performance Benchmark : 8 (Eco) x 12 (SR) = 96 [rounded off to 100 for the sake of simplicity]
  4. Quality = Performance Benchmark / (Economy x Strike Rate)
  5. Frequency = Balls Bowled / Match
  6. Player Impact = Quality x Frequency 
  7. 4WFactor = 4 wickets in an innings / matches played
  8. 5WFactor = 5 wickets in an innings / matches played
Bowling Impact = Player Impact + (Player Impact x 5WF) + (Player Impact x 4WF/2) 

Fielding / Wicket Keeping Impact: 

This aspect is not considered in the calculation for the following reasons: 
  1. Complete data not available. Generally, its only the 'successful performance' resulting in a catch, stumping or a run out that is recorded and there is no record for missed opportunities. Therefore, those stats give only one side of the picture and do not cover the cases where a player might have taken 1 catch but missed 3 opportunities in the same game. 
  2. In T20, even wicket keepers are picked primarily for their batting skills and it is a common sight to see stand in or make shift keepers to be keeping wickets. Even in case of a specialist keeper playing a game, his impact on the game is almost always assessed on his batting performance not usually on his keeping performance. 
For results of application of this method, see other posts. 


PSL 2016 - Player Impact View

T20 Cricket is all about impact. It can change within a space of few deliveries. The shorter length of the format shortens the overall impact of career stats, reputations and names as well.

Same theme has been seen in Pakistan Super League as well. The league has already produced incidents of rookie or unknown players making irreversible impact on the game within the space of few deliveries. At the same time, the league has also produced incidents of lesser rated players making a lasting impact on the outcome of a match.

It is this dimension of the game that makes the traditional method of stats and numbers somewhat incomplete, not necessarily showing the complete picture of the impact of a player in a game. To extract a more meaningful picture of out of raw stats, an impact rating method was designed to get Player Impact View out of those performance stats.

When applied on PSL 2016 performance stats, here is the ranking of players generated through this impact rating method:
* includes stats up to Quetta vs Peshawar, February 14, 2016

Similarly, applying the method specifically for Batting and Bowling stats produced the following views:

At this point, it is worth keeping in mind that all these ratings are calculated on per match basis, therefore, it reflects the average impact each player has made in each of the games he has played. 

The above graphics give pretty good idea about the top performing players in the tournament but it is only a part of the picture. To get the full context of these ratings and rankings, it would need to be compared with the Player Impact Rating of each and every other player in the tournament. 

So here is the outcome of impact rating method, segregated on each team level for the sake of clarity and ease of understanding. 

Quetta Gladiators:

Peashawar Zalmi:

Islamabad United: 

Karachi Kings:

Lahore Qalandars:

Finally, to have a look at players of which teams are making the highest impact and which areas, here is what we get after adding up individual player impact of each team:


Cricket - a game of unusually high amount of stats and numbers. Why?

Cricket is a game rich of stats and numbers. If one watches a game of Cricket on TV, follow it online or come across a discussion of fans or experts, it may look and sound like its not sports but some stock exchange or financial reports that is under discussion. Compared to other sports, Cricket clearly carries much more stats and numbers than any other game and there are reasons to it.

All sports revolve around certain point scoring 'events' within a 'game' and its the final sum of those points earned through creating those 'events' that decides the winner or loser of a 'game' of that sports. Almost all of the team sports, except Cricket, are designed in a way where it needs the team or at leat multiple players to register such an 'event'. 

For example in football, to create the 'event' of scoring a goal, a team almost always need more than one player to create that 'event'. Then, there are also sports like baseball where the team competition also includes multiple one-on-one sub-competitions between individual players - the pitcher and the batter in baseball - to create a point scoring 'event'. But like in baseball's example, the length and impact of such sub-competitions is usually very small which leaves very little margin for the 'impact of individual performance' to impact on the overall outcome of the competition. 

That's where Cricket is a different sports. Except for non-direct-hit run outs or scoring runs other than boundaries, almost all other 'events' in the game rely on 'the impact of individual performance' to score an 'event' for the team. That is exactly why Cricket-screen is always loaded with so many stats and numbers and why it plays such a dominant role in defining the value of an individual performer. 

Misbah and Pakistan Cricket

It had been a while since Pakistan won an ODI series or tournament. To be exact, Pakistan lost 4 bilateral series, Asia Cup and World Cup during a period of almost year and a half since the start of 2014. However, as soon as Pakistan started winning, the popular debate of Misbah’s competence as a captain returned with all its zest and fervour. At first, I thought to let it pass just as yet another counter-productive but popular debate but then came across the analysis blog  of Umair Qazi in his usual stats driven style - How Pakistan wasted 4 years of ODI Cricket under Misbah. It helped me realize that its not completely a fruitless debate and it does worth emotion and bias free review.

Stats are in front of everyone so are the results and performances, so there’s not much left to be added there. The question that got me thinking was that how come Misbah landed and lasted in the captaincy role for four years in a team like Pakistan where even the best of Cricketers couldn’t manage to lead the team without scandals, controversies or infighting for roughly two years or so. Before being elevated to the rank of captain of the side, Misbah was no stranger to anyone. He had been around and pretty much everyone knew his potential, match winning capability and stature within the greats.

Putting the stats and numbers on the table, we can debate even curse Misbah, in the hindsight, for being such a lousy captain. At times, I also feel like doing so. But then we have to keep in mind that Misbah was never supposed to be a captain. He wasn't made captain AHEAD of others but BEHIND others. He didn't become a captain because of his Cricketing talent, career or profile but more due to rubbish and nonsense of everyone else around him with better career, records and talent.
Whether your fault or not, sometimes, you just find yourself facing an avalanche, making future planning a luxury and leaving survival as the only option. When you go through such experiences, you never know if and what will come out of it. Same happened with Pakistan Cricket as well.

Starting from the circumstances Woolmer died, Inzimam retired and Pakistan were knocked out of 2007 WC to to 8 players taking oath to underperform, from Younus' decline to be Inzi's successor to his appointment eventually and resignation from captaincy and winning a ban later, from appointment to removal of Malik from captaincy, from 'Akmalian Sydney stunts' to those No Balls that attracted Scotland Yard to a Cricket game, from Lahore attack to Ijaz Butt's antics, from public spat of Malik and Yousuf to PCB's ban on senior players, from Afridi's one-match return to Test Cricket to public outbursts on Indians, interior minister, coach and finally the chairman PCB, from Geoff Lawson's before-time relieving as a coach to Abdul Qadir's resign as chief selector for selecting T20 WC winning side, to eventually Afridi's explosion of resign as captain........ the list just goes on. When such things happen, there is surety of only one thing, that is, there will be no surety.

Misbah was never an outcome of a plan but a byproduct of too many plans going wrong. His appointment was more to cease the slide rather than climb up the mountain. He is good but average player who has done many times better than what he could in stabilizing the rocking boat of Pakistan Cricket.

Just four years of scandal, controversy, infighting free Pakistan Cricket and now, we all can see the difference in how youngsters are getting welcomed into the side as compared to what youngsters had to go through upon joining the league of 'super-stars’. In the midst of all praise, acknowledgement and support for Azhar Ali, a lot of people have conveniently forgotten that just 2 months ago, they themselves were criticising Misbah and Waqar Younus for recommending Azhar Ali as the future ODI captain.

If Misbah can be blamed for instilling the defensive mindset in otherwise world beater team then he also deserves the credit of picking, grooming and promoting the youngsters like Azhar Ali, Yasir Shah, Sarfaraz and Asad Shafiq. Even on the basis of the stats, if its worth to look at a comparison of stats during and after Misbah’s tenure then a comparison of before and during Misbah’s tenure is also worth taking a look. We didn’t win anything major during his tenure but Pakistan wasn’t a world beater side before him either.

To conclude, Misbah may not have been the right choice at the time of his appointment but it would be equally not-right to judge his services purely on the basis of stats with total ignorance of the circumstances, challenges and priorities he took over the team in. But again, its a never ending debate and one that whole of Pakistan loves to take to the extremes. So let’s agree to disagree and welcome the new phase of Pakistan Cricket that definitely looks brighter than before.

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