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India’s inability to clean up tail: a statistical overview

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From Left: Stuart Broad, Jimmy Neesham and Vernon Philander have all blunted the Indian attack in recent times © Getty Images

Though India stole the honours on Day Three of the first Test against England at Nottingham, their inability to clean the tail has allowed the hosts some hope. From 202 for seven, England recovered to finish the day on 352 for nine. This isn’t the first time India haven’t finished the tail. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at some intriguing numbers.

At one point in the afternoon session of Day Three, India looked in firm control of the first Test at Nottingham. The hosts were reduced to 202 for seven after a mind-boggling spell by the Indian pacers and were in danger of following on. However, they ended the day on a relatively safe 352 for nine. Though they are still 105 runs behind India, England’s tail has done well to reduce the visitor’s advantage, allowing them the chance to put pressure. How many times has this happened to India in overseas Tests?

 

Note: For this article, tailenders’ partnerships comprise stands for the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth wickets.

Since 2011, India have had their opposition, in overseas conditions, under the pump but have let slip the advantage. A major feature of this predicament has been their tendency to run through the top order and then letting the lower order rebuild. You may still have a rearguard action from the sixth wicket stand, as the genuine batsmen normally take those spots. However, India haven’t been clinical when it comes to finishing the last four wickets. Here are the number of runs scored by the last four wickets in their respective home conditions against India since April 2011:

Runs conceded by India to the last four wickets in Tests in overseas conditions since April 2011:

I

R

Ave

100s

50s

HS

79*

2309

32.52

4

11

179

*updated till Day Three of first Test between India and England at Nottingham. England at 353 for nine.

Let us now have a look at the huge tail partnerships against India (away from home) since May 2011. Here is the list:

Batsman

R

Wicket

Venue

Year

Brendon McCullum-Jimmy Neesham

179

7

Wellington

2014

Stuart Broad-Matt Prior

162*

7

Lord’s

2011

Tim Bresnan-Matt Prior

119

7

Nottingham

2011

Faf du Plessis-Robin Peterson

110

8

Durban

2013

Tim Bresnan-Alastair Cook

97

7

Birmingham

2011

Tim Bresnan-Stuart Broad

82

8

Nottingham

2011

Faf du Plessis-Vernon Philander

80

7

Johannesburg

2013

Stuart Broad-Joe Root

78

8

Nottingham

2014

In each partnership, India let go of chances when they could have come back in the game. After Brendon McCullum put that famous stand with BJ Watling, he then combined with Jimmy Neesham to pile on the misery. Stuart Broad has been a thorn in India’s flesh. At Lord’s in 2011, India threatened to comeback in the second innings before he stroked 162 runs with Matt Prior. In Durban late last year, India could have put pressure on South Africa but let Faf du Plessis construct a partnership with Robin Peterson.

Have India been worse against tailenders in overseas conditions when compared to the previous era?

Were India better at cleaning up the tail away from home before 2011? Let us take into consideration the time period from May 2007 to February 2011. This was the time when they had Zaheer Khan in full tilt, and Anil Kumble until 2008. Here is how they fared away from home against tailenders in the said period:

Runs conceded to the last four wickets in overseas conditions from May 2007 to April 2011:

Team

I

R

Ave*

100s

50s

HS

India

131

3298

26.38

8

10

186

Bangladesh

43

1046

26.15

1

5

223*

Pakistan

96

2390

25.15

6

5

332

England

139

3232

24.3

3

15

183

West Indies

60

1385

24.29

1

6

169

South Africa

113

2657

23.72

3

14

259*

New Zealand

67

1537

23.64

2

7

163

Sri Lanka

41

878

22.51

2

2

169*

Australia

116

2520

22.5

4

10

124

*arranged according to average

From 2007 to 2011, India recorded the highest average partnership conceded to tailenders.  At 26.38, they top the list and they gave away 3298 runs, which is also the highest in this list. So, one can say that they were on the high side in this period. It is surprising because, it was during this phase that Indian cricket shot towards the top and became the No 1 ranked Test side.

Let us now have a look at similar numbers for the phase when India slid down the Test rankings. This is the phase post April 2011.

 Runs conceded to the last four wickets in Tests since April 2011

Team

I

R

Ave*

100s

50s

HS

Zimbabwe

9

274

39.14

1

1

106

West Indies

68

2152

32.6

4

9

280

India

79

2309

32.52

4

11

179

Sri Lanka

57

1577

29.2

1

12

108

England

77

1901

26.4

2

9

114

Bangladesh

22

526

25.04

1

2

106

South Africa

51

1059

21.61

0

4

87

Australia

114

2184

19.5

2

6

140

Pakistan

80

1509

19.1

1

4

129

New Zealand

93

1754

19.06

1

8

105

*arranged according to average. Updated till Day Three of first Test between India and England.

 

Since 2011, the average tailend partnerships against India are quite high. Zimbabwe may top this table, but West Indies and India’s figures are compelling. An average partnership by the tail has lasted about 32.52 runs against India. In the previous time period, i.e. May 2007 to April 2011, India topped the table with 26.38, but in that phase, the lowest average was 22.50. In the post April 2011 phase, the lowest number is 19.06. India is far ahead at 32.52 — certainly something to worry about!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)

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