Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Sourav Ganguly and the IPL saga

The Pune Warriors have played 10 matches already in the IPL and with just 3 victories from those 10 matches, even if they win their remaining four matches, it would take them to just 14 points overall. Given their negative run-rate and the fact that Mumbai have 16 points with four games in hand and Chennai and Kolkata have 14 points with 3 games in hand - not to speak of the Royal Challengers Bangalore who have 13 points with 4 games in hand - this makes qualification for the final four nigh impossible for Pune.

And yet, they will enter the last four matches with some hope. That hope will come in the form of Sourav Ganguly. As every thing connected with Ganguly has done, his exclusion from IPL 2011 raised the hackles of fans and divided opinion. He had ended IPL 2010 with 493 runs - the fourth highest overall and the highest for the Kolkata Knight Riders. On the face of it, this was a good performance. However, digging a bit deeper, his strike-rate was a low 117.66 (a run-rate of 7.06 runs per over), which was the second lowest amongst the top 10 run-getters in IPL 2010.

While sometimes a low strike-rate is unavoidable even in Twenty20 cricket, at most times, a batsman's strike-rate is as important or more so, than the runs he scores. A bunch of runs scored at a low strike-rate will actually contribute more towards defeat than victory for the side.
That is one side of the argument; the other is that Ganguly was playing in a relatively weak team for which he needed to stay at the crease since if he didn't, wickets were likely to fall in a heap. This is thus an attempt to analyze Ganguly's performances in IPL 2010 by digging a little deeper into the numbers. The analysis is restricted to IPL 2010, since that was by far Ganguly's most productive year in the IPL.

To start with, I have looked at how the Knight Riders performed with Ganguly at the crease versus how they performed when he was dismissed. To make meaningful analysis possible, I have restricted the number crunching for this particular table to the matches in which Kolkata had at least 3 overs left after Ganguly's departure. There were matches in which he was dismissed in the 19th over, but they have been excluded. Ten of the fourteen matches Ganguly and Kolkata played fit the above criteria. The table below displays the results: (The headings are explained below)

Match No.EntryExitEntry RRStay RRExit RRDifferenceResult
10/1 in 0.2 overs55/5 in 8.1 overs07.024.84-2.18Lost
2Opener70/1 in 11 overs06.369.443.08Lost
3Opener124/3 in 14.3 overs08.5510.732.18Won
4Opener19/1 in 2.5 overs06.716.870.16Lost
5Opener146/4 in 17 overs08.5911.673.08Won
6Opener56/1 in 7.2 overs07.6411.373.73Lost
7Opener104/2 in 11. 5 overs08.799.430.64Won
8Opener103/2 in 11.5 overs08.706.98-1.72Lost
9Opener17/3 in 3.2 overs05.107.322.22Lost
10Opener97/1 in 13.5 overs07.0110.363.35Won

The 'Entry RR' is the run-rate of KKR when Ganguly came in to bat. The 'Stay RR' is KKR's run-rate during Ganguly's stay at the wicket. the 'Exit RR' is KKR's run-rate after Ganguly's dismissal. The 'Difference' is the 'Exit RR' minus the 'Stay RR'. A negative difference means KKR's run-rate fell after Ganguly's dismissal while a positive difference means it rose.

The above table makes it pretty clear that for a large majority of the time, the Kolkata Knight Riders started scoring faster after Ganguly was dismissed. There are only two matches - Match No.1 and Match No.9 - on the table in which the team run-rate fell after Ganguly's dismissal. The fact that the team run-rate rises after his dismissal is by itself not any strong indictment since Ganguly more often than not played the role of the anchor, but the margins by which it rose are note-worthy. More often than not, there was a substantial increase in the team run-rate after Ganguly left, and that is indicative of the fact that Ganguly perhaps scored his runs too slowly.
To further examine this, Ganguly's performance during his stay at the wicket in conjunction with the performance of the team as a whole can be examined. Here, all fourteen matches in which he played can be examined since what is being looked at is a)how Ganguly performed in each match and b)how KKR performed when Ganguly was the crease.

Here is the table:

Match No.SG ScoreSG Balls facedSG Run-RateTeam RunsTeam WicketsTeam OversTeam Run-RateRR Difference

'SG' stands for Sourav Ganguly. 'Team' stands for KKR. The 'Difference' measures 'Team Run-Rate' minus 'SG Run-Rate'.

Save for three matches (Numbers 2, 8 and 13), Ganguly has always scored at a lower run-rate than those around him. As the captain and main Indian batsman in the side 3 out of 14 is not a good enough number. By scoring at a rate lower than those around him, Ganguly would have not only built pressure on himself to break free, but also on the batsmen he batted with, who would have to take extra risks to compensate for his lower run-rate.

Ganguly's inability to up his strike-rate hurt Kolkata most in matches in which they had to chase targets that required more than 7 runs per over to be scored. As his overall run-rate of 7.06 indicates, Ganguly is most comfortable scoring at that range. However, the average run-rate of IPL 2010 - and indeed of most of all T20 matches - is far higher than 7 per over, and when confronted with a steeper chase, Ganguly has been unable to score at the required pace. The table below illustrates this:

EntryTeam RRRequired RRPerformanceGanguly RROppositionResult
101/1 in 11.4 overs8.544.2023 off 226.27RCBWon
0/1 in 0.2 overs0.008.5311 off 203.30CSKLost
68/2 in 10.4 overs6.37510.8233 off 296.83RRLost
OpenerNA8.905 off 103.00DDLost
OpenerNA6.6575 not out off 509.00RRWon
OpenerNA6.7042 off 367.00MIWon

KKR chased targets in six of the fourteen matches they played in. In three of those, the required run-rate when Ganguly came in was less than 7 runs per over. In each of those three matches, Ganguly scored at more than the required run-rate. However, in the three matches in which the targets chased were a bit steeper, Ganguly was unable to keep pace with the run-rate even once. The required run-rates were not absurdly high either, ranging between 8.5-11 and each time Ganguly had ample overs.

The analysis and tables above are in no way meant to denigrate the contributions of Sourav Ganguly to Indian cricket. He has been a great captain, a batsman who gave joy and a man who taught India to stand and fight rather than take everything on their chin with a smile. However, age is a remorseless creature and it catches up with everyone - even the legends of the game. Ten years ago, Ganguly would have probably hit most bowlers out of sight and smiled at the thought of a 'steep' target. However, the Ganguly of today hasn't so far displayed that capacity. He could still step in and do it for Pune, because Indian cricket has not seen a man with a better stomach for a fight and a comeback than Sourav Ganguly.

Whether he arrives with a blaze of glory to prove these numbers wrong - and no one will be happier than I if he does so - or whether his IPL 2011 ends with a whimper, is a moot point. Either way, his legacy to Indian cricket remains intact and a few mis-hits (or big hits) in a Twenty20 tournament at the end of his career is not going to change that.

Post-script: I have no axe to grind against Dada. I am, in fact, a huge fan of his as this article from the blog will testify - Goodnight, Sweet Prince. However, numbers don't lie and Ganguly hasn't been at his best in the IPL. In any case, in my view it hardly matters what he does in the hit-and-giggle world that the IPL is for established stars and can't take away his achievements in international cricket and as a captain.

This article was first published here.
Photos courtesy Cricbuzz


Neha said...

one has to tell the truth at any circumstances otherwise we have to remain like a slave in this country and look like sheep that follows each other without any thinking !!!!

only narrow-minded people will get angry at my comments which is to the point !!!

we cannot be like others who support blindly based on language, state or any other factors !!! let us call a spade a spade and not otherwise as we see in the comments of many bengalis with narrow outlook !!!

all have to reform and realise the truth in everything !!

jai hind !

sparial02 said...

Everything has a end except the ability of a such cricketer like sourav ganguly.he is the king of comeback.if whole players playing bad in kkr,why should we blame ganguly?those who want to criticize about ganguly,they must be know that 20years of experienc─▒