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Stat Turd chimes in on MSD, the No.3, and theory of Evolution

Posted by farkandfunk on June 11, 2009

We’ve saw it happen again yesterday. A wicket falls, and the now-familiar sight of  MSD walking in at No.3.  The innings is pretty much the same – lasts about 20 or so deliveries, gets an average of 1 boundary (possibly hit hard enough to destroy a fielder or an umpire from the face of the earth), a few quick singles and twos,  an attempt at upping the tempo, and the invariable dismissal.

A quick look around some of my daily reads (  Late, Prem ) gives you the flavour of the day. The aforementioned folks quite beautifully sum up the flaw in Messrs. MSD occupying the No.3 position .  Not wanting to be left out of the bandwagon, F&F echos the same thoughts  in this section (and pretty much the reasoning), but tries to look some numbers at the same time.

For posterity’s sake, let’s have a quick comparison between the numbers from the 50 over format and the T20 international format.  This will give us the basis for comparison. Some quick differences though:

1. T20 is like the highlights package of 50.

2. Strike rate is key

3. 50 Overs probably requires a little more planning and understanding of the game as it happens.  T20 is a little more slam bang

4. There are definitely going to be many less one-sided games in T20 than in the 50 over format. In fact, there definitely are more close games (keep this in mind).

50 Over format

We all know that the captain is an immensely successful 50-over cricketer. Have a look at the numbers , and let’s compare him to 2 other cricketers:

1. Yuvraj Singh – dangerous Bat and a definite feature in any Indian 50 over and 20 over team

2.  M. Hussey  – often acknowledged as one of the best players in 50 over cricket

50 Over Comparison

50 Over Comparison

That is quite stunning no matter how you look at it. Dhoni’s average and even strike rate in fact betters two of the best in business (though the strike rate is a little less signficantly different here).

An important feature here is the % Not outs, which is implies that there’s about a 26% chance that Dhoni remains not out at the end of the innings. Sweet!  Hussey’s % Not out is a jaw-dropping 36% , giving him bradman-esqe averages here, but let’s not forget that he also bats at No.5 or so. FYI, I also checked MSD’s averages and %Not Outs  in innings he played at No.3 or No.4 and they aren’t significantly very different either.

T-20 : 50-Lite

Now in this format of the game, let’s have a look at  MSDs performance, and compare it with his own teammates . This should be fair enough, since the Indian team is supposedly the best on paper.  Going by the same standards, we can imagine the average to go significantly down, the SR to well up, but hey that’s all good since it is a smaller format of the game. Right?

T-20 International Record -Indian Team

T-20 International Record -Indian Team

Umm…. Right?


1.  Purely by looking at the numbers,  Dhoni’s record in the 50 over game is quite phenomenal so far.  He’s a definite asset no matter how you look at it.

2. While Yuvi’s SR significantly increases in the T20 game, Dhoni’s does too, but not by much.

3. Dhoni’s SR in the T20 game is the lowest – and lowest by a decent distance – in his own batting line up!  I’ve included Irfan Pathan and Robin Uthappa too in there, the former from an “bowling” all rounder’s capacity, and the latter- just for laughs  .


1.I’m not saying that MSD is a liability. Far from it. I think he’s a pretty good leader, and he’s also a great player. His keeping skills have improved leaps and bounds from before, and he provides quite an entertainment with some of his unconventional shots. And I must make note of his running between the wickets – definitely the amongst the best in Indian and world cricket.

2. What he is not (right now-take note again) is a T20 India No.3 batsman- yet.   A T20 innings has 120 balls. Let’s assume your top  6 batsmen play well enough to consume all that. Thus, per head, they get 20 balls each. Dhoni will, on the average, fetch you 21 runs in those 20 balls . Raina – 25.  I’m not saying he will do that every time. But those 4 extra runs are far more crucial in a T20 game, than in a 50 over game (due to the differences between the 2 formats noted above).  Yousaf can fetch even more perhaps – but consistency is key too.  The key here is to give the best chance for the strongest batsmen to propel the score over a longer period of time , eh -for more than 20 deliveries.

3.  Imagine you’ve got Dhoni and Raina who’ll atleast play 10 deliveries each. Let’s assume they play it out and take their singles and twos, and even a boundary on a loose delivery. Now who will you bet on being there for 20 more deliveries after that, and maximizing the score?  Not saying that MSD can’t do it, but I think the smart money should be on someone like Raina (you know I love him).

4.  Shots : Dhoni’s got some, but I think even he’ll admit that the bowlers have him figured out for now. Which is why he cannot afford to occupy a pivotal position and screw up.   For  now,  we see MSD getting  out in a similar manner. He might have cut down the risk of him getting out to his vulnerable deliveries, but he finds it more difficult to score BIG off them.

There will be a process of evolution.  For a person who’s also the captain and wicketkeeper (and Media Protector) of the Indian Team, the process might be a little slower.  Remember Sachin from before (early 90s ) and the Sachin now (post 2000)?  Bowlers , laptop coaches  et al. continuously figured him out, and yet, he kept evolving.

* I had a section with snapshots on “Sachin” here, but it was a complete dud on my part as I had the wrong player itself!! Thanks to Tifosi for catching that. I’ll try to get better info up next time. Apologies on the brain-fart.”

MSD can emulate a Sachin too- Evolve. If he works as hard in his batting as he did in his wicket-keeping (and that’s asking a LOT out of him right now), he’ll reach greater heights. But that is asking a lot out of him right now in the middle of the tournament.


India had a glorious opportunity to get Raina or Yousaf a bat in the previous 2-3 games, and we sort of missed a trick there.


12 Responses to “Stat Turd chimes in on MSD, the No.3, and theory of Evolution”

  1. Leela said

    What a great post!
    Agree with all your points there.

  2. Tifosi Guy said


    Who you kidding here ? Hussey’s average in 50 overs is 54.65, and MSD’s is 49.26. Your figures, I haven’t checked up CI. and then you come up with this gem ‘ That is quite stunning no matter how you look at it. Dhoni’s average and even strike rate in fact betters two of the best in business (though the strike rate is a little less signficantly different here)’

    Ahem how is 49.26 greater than 54.65 ????

    Secondly, that snap titled’ Sachin of Old’ is NOT Sachin. That’s a snap of Azharuddin !!! The helmet and the pose are the give aways, if not the height !

    Pulling wool over people’s eyes are we here ?

    • Tifosi,

      Welcome, and thank you for the comments!

      @ The figures – you are correct – silly blunder by me. I am quite sure that the figures are accurate, but my statement was wrong with respect to the average part . Hussey’s is obviously great. What I wanted to say is that Dhoni’s right up there in comparison wrt averages also- the Number of NO’s Hussey has gives him the numerical edge, but Dhoni’s no less.

      @ Photograph- you’re SPOT on dude. My eyes have completely fooled me. I went back to the source and checked it again, and you’re money – it was Azhar getting out, and Sachin walks in after him.

      I owe an apology for misleading the readers on the evolution theory for now. Over the weekend , I’ll hunt for some real pics (and get it validated by Tifosi 🙂 ) .

      Thank you for your inputs.
      Other than that, what are your thoughts on MSD at No.3 in T20?

  3. Yenjvoy said

    Good analysis. However I believe the entire MSD@3 experiment is being carried out ONLY because MSD came at 3 for CSKs in the IPL a few times and his average at that position was way higher than at any other position – in the 70s i believe. Now, I agree with you that consistency is way more important than one or 2 flashy innings pushing your average up, specially when you follow a rampaging Hayden on slower pitches. I think MSD is too canny to miss a trick like that and if we see 2 more failures from him he will drop down the order again. It is the IPL hangover, nothing else. Him and GK just need to understand that English summer pitches are different from SA end of the season flat wickets, and the quality of bowling even at numbers 3-4-5 in international cricket is different from the IPL change bowling.

    By the way, interesting you mentioned that MSD is getting out the same way – what way is that?

  4. Krish said

    I think the biggest problem with Dhoni coming up the order is that it reduces the responsibility of the other batsmen in the team. Dhoni should be pushing Raina and Yuvraj to push India to big scores or leading them to victory. And he should step in when there is a collapse. Right now, he is coming in when India is well placed, and then failing to do anything.

  5. The strike rate comparison within Team India is informative. While Rohit’s high average comes on account of two unbeaten fifties and at least one 30 not out, his strike rate (as well as Raina’s) supports one arguement.For now the top four should be GG, Rohit, Raina and Yuvraj.

    Recall Anil Kumble mentioned once to “Rally around the player of the day” for T20 games. Likelyhood of one of the abovenamed 4 being player of the day is the highest.

    Yenjyoy – MSD surely would not have missed it but another two games of failures in the available 3 matches in Super 8 would be costly.

  6. Q said

    I think the biggest cause for concern is the fact that Dhoni’s persistence with number 3 has resulted in Raina and YP not getting enough hits yet, which could affect them in the bigger games against WI, SA, and Eng.. If anything, Dhoni should have tried to get all his batsmen a hit in the middle in the 4 matches he had including the warm ups, especially since they were playing relatively weaker opposition in Bangladesh and Ireland.

    I argued abt this somewhere else and the counter was that the Indian batsmen are in touch since they’re coming off the IPL.. but the thing is, conditions in England are quite different from those in SA..

  7. Tifosi Guy said


    No worries mate ! I sometimes do get a bit caustic in my comments ! I guess in hindsight – it’s easy for an arm chair bloke like me to comment on other people’s work. Everyone makes mistakes 🙂

    As to the point of MSD at # 3, in T20. For me it’s not an issue if he comes in at 3 if Gambhir gets out. Lately Gambhir and he bat in the same mould and thus a like for like swap is no issue. I guess the problem arises when he comes in at the fall of Rohit ( or Sehwag). Then following the like for like – either Raina or Yuvraj should come.

  8. @ Leela – thanks ma’am! How do you think the games turn out today? And can India be considered an underdog now? 🙂

    @Yenjvoy – Agree with you. And like you pointed out, Raina walked into bat yesterday, but unfortunately, neither he nor anyone else could strike ! Thank heavens for yuvi and yousaf that it didnt look much worse!

    @ Krish – Interesting input . I see where you’re coming from, and I think likewise too. MSD neednt think he has to do everything, and offload some of it to the others – give them the right roles. Otherwise, we might look like a headless chicken instead of this “flexibility” thing they talk about

    @Q – Most of us have the same thoughts as you. More than anything else, the games are important for the key players to acclimatize themselves with the conditions, and he sort of missed a trick there. Both the finalists from last year have an uphill task now!!

    @Late – We got punked!! And to make matters worse, in the fantasy league, my good friend had bravo in his team, and he leapfrogged me! SUCKS big time !!

    @ Tifosi – No issues made. Your points and inputs will only help me improve and make less mistakes. Great eye by the way. Your point about MSD walking in if it’s to replace gambhir and not otherwise is excellent – and it was echoed by Late.

    All , if you haven’t already – I’d like to pimp up yenjvoy and late’s articles. Yven has written about Gayle – and it’s a very interesting take. Late – for his general kick-ass insights! Do go for it!

  9. @ Tifosi – I won’t forgive you if you’re a Man- U fan! 🙂

    • Tifosi Guy said


      I’m a die hard Man Utd fan. Dates back to mid 90’s when Star Sports started to beam in the EPL. What choices did I have then – Man Utd, Liverpool or Arsenal – at least those are the matches that were beamed.

      Red Devils it was to be THEN and has continued more than a decade on 🙂

      Now don’t tell me you are a Liverpool fan !

      Oh yeah – I remember your comment on Leela’s blog. A Aussie supporter who also like Rooney – yeah can’t say either has disappointed me 🙂

      Now only if Ferrari could do ‘ something’ in F1 – well I’ll look to 2010 for that !

      • Fark said

        hahaha! TG! I am your worst nightmare – a Pool fan here! The original Reds 🙂

        I used to follow EPL from the mid-90s too , and Cantona = god in my opinion. I religiously see some of his goals on youtube every other week just to be blessed. He, along with Sir Alex , planted the seeds that have made Man-U a globe-trotting machine that they are today.

        Ferrari? 🙂 In F1 though, I support the drivers, I like all the cars . So we’re safe there.

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