Champions Trophy 2013 – Review

This Champions Trophy was truly remarkable for one unexpected reason – all teams, bar one, played to their collective potential. That is the primary reason why, according to our preview before the tournament, 6 of the 8 teams played exactly as per the Impact charts (3 of the four semi-finalists we’d given the highest probability to, and the bottom-placed teams as well), suggested they would – and additionally we’d put down England as the dark horses, so for them to reach the final was not a surprise.

It is particularly surprising to see this happen in a short tournament with such a small sample size of matches – this is as rare as a total solar eclipse in a region.

It was disappointing to see the defending champions and in our book, the highest impact team in this format – Australia, falter so badly. But a closer look reveals exceptional bad luck right through the tournament, from all quarters. They lost their captain Clarke (due to injury) and highest impact batsman Warner (due to indiscipline). Their highest impact player (Watson) and bowler (Starc) were both hopelessly out of form. Then, to top it all, their match against New Zealand got rained off in a position from which they were likely to win, and that put them in a very difficult situation against Sri Lanka (only because New Zealand got a huge advantage from a faulty NRR system in another match) – this is a stunning array of ill-luck. Despite that, it is creditable that they came reasonably close to making the semis – while chasing a near-impossible target at a run-rate no one even came close to in the tournament.

Conversely, this is the 50-over tournament victory Dhoni will probably savour the most in his career (thus far) because this was finally the Indian side built in his image. This is why he wanted a side without seniors who were from a different culture of fielding (the most improved aspect for India, in this tournament). Youngsters Dhoni has backed obdurately in the past (Rohit Sharma, Jadeja and Karthik most notably) came good here. Even Ishant Sharma, who many thought should not have been there in the side (with good reason), was picked over the highest impact ODI bowler in the squad – Irfan Pathan, who might have enjoyed these conditions – and yet, Ishant produced the results in key moments. Even though the ease and domination India displayed in this tournament was reminiscent of the 1985 World Championship of Cricket win (with interesting parallels between Ravi Shastri and Ravindra Jadeja), the best parallel of this win perhaps is the 2007 T20 World Cup win where Dhoni led a similarly motivated and hungry bunch of youngsters to pave the way for a new era of cricket (T20 and IPL). Here too, the significance of the win cannot be understated in the backdrop of what they were coming out of – the IPL spot-fixing scandal and the beating the sport was taking amongst cricket fans (not the most emotionally stable people in the country). In many ways, it is perhaps not hyperbolic to say this Indian team was playing for their lives and the short-term future of the sport in India – which is perhaps why the quintessential disease of post-IPL ennui, that has been afflicting Indian teams since 2009, did not manifest at all this time. The team, to a man, was charged right till the end – the compact nature of the tournament keeping the intensity going. It also helped that this Indian team relatively had the highest Bowling Impact amongst Indian ODI teams in the past – this played a much bigger role than is otherwise apparent.

England had the strongest bowling attack amongst all squads before the tournament started (highest Bowling Impact – primarily because of the propensity to take wickets) and the advantage of home conditions (despite the conditions/pitches not being classically English) where they had a high impact, which were always likely to make them dark horses at least (as we had them down). The team had many issues otherwise – low Pressure Impact (painfully apparent in the final), low Chasing Impact (again, apparent in the final), middling Economy Impact (apparent against Sri Lanka) – but as was the case with Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup, the strongest bowling team deservingly reached the final. In a 50-over final (if it hadn’t rained), they would perhaps have had more of a chance; but this Indian squad fortuitously was much higher impact in the T20 format, so despite the advantage of batting second in a 20-over curtailed match, England faltered – as they were likely to.

Sri Lanka overcame their chasing issues in this ODI team (Low Chasing Impact ) with an all-time great performance from their highest impact player Sangakkara. In that same match, their Strike Rate issues (low Strike Rate Impact ) was sorted by Kulasekara’s cultured pinch hitting – but sadly for them, lightning did not strike again.

The current South African ODI side’s most notable Achilles Heel in ODI cricket is their low Bowling Impact , even with Steyn and Morkel (who are not high impact ODI bowlers curiously). But without them, they had practically no chance beyond the group stages (where they were lucky to meet West Indies and Pakistan, both struggling ODI teams). The thrashing they received from England in the semi-final was not unexpected (where their bowling could not salvage a mediocre batting performance), despite all the talk about them choking. They also had the highest failure rate as a squad before the tournament, the joint-lowest Pressure Impact , and the 3rd-lowest number of big match players (tally of series/ tournament-defining performances ), so a big match was always likely to put them in strife anyway. They really did not have the side to go beyond this. Interestingly, even with Steyn and Morkel.

West Indies overcame their issues with chasing twice (low Chasing Impact ) but still could not get beyond the group stages, despite the advantage of a shortened match in their last outing making it closer to the format in which they are rightly world champions currently. But their middling Batting and Bowling Impact in this format kept them at the fringes, as was always likely.

New Zealand were lucky to win a close game against Sri Lanka (and get a highly disproportionate advantage of the net run rate system) and win a point against Australia thanks to a rained-off game, but their inability to make adequate runs (low Runs Tally Impact ) fundamentally torpedoed them.

Despite some experts rating Pakistan high ostensibly because of their bowling, Pakistan were always likely to struggle as per our impact charts – and they did, as the first team to bow out. As expected, it was primarily their sluggish batting (Low Strike Rate Impact ) that let them down. They were pretty much the lowest impact side on every count, and it is not true that they did not play to expectation. They were quite simply a low impact team.

Even without taking big-match performances into account, Ravindra Jadeja and Shikhar Dhawan are the highest impact players in the tournament. Jadeja, in fact just inches past Dhawan as the highest impact player of the tournament and perhaps was the rightful Man-of-the-Tournament. Out of the three matches that he played in, Misbah-ul-Haq played two quality knocks under pressure and his 98 not out against West Indies was also the highest impact innings of the tournament (purely because of Pressure Impact ). James Anderson had an outstanding tournament as the spearhead of the English bowling attack but couldn’t cap it off with a tournament-defining performance in the final, in a format (T20) where he is the most susceptible as a bowler. Nuwan Kulasekara performed as a genuine all-rounder for Sri Lanka in this tournament and his blitzkrieg performance with the bat against England turned the game on its head.

Within a tournament context, the highest impact players are interestingly all Indian – Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma.

Jadeja and Dhawan were consistent throughout; Kohli was indifferent in the early stages but produced big performances in the two knockout games.

Dhawan was consistent throught, Kohli only in the big matches (which actually gives him a higher career impact . Misbah, Gayle and Sangakkara were consistent – living up to their billing as high impact batsmen for their respective teams.

Within a tournament context, the highest impact batsmen are – Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Misbah-ul-Haq, Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara.

Dhawan and Kohli top the list by virtue of their tournament-defining performances whereas the rest played substantial innings under immense pressure. Misbah did it against West Indies, Gayle against Pakistan and Sangakkara against New Zealand and England (twice).

James Anderson becomes the highest impact bowler of the tournament if we discount tournament-defining bonus. He had the highest Wickets Tally Impact, the highest Economy Impact and the third-highest Pressure-Building Impact amongst all the bowlers in the tournament. Predictably, Jadeja, Ashwin and Sharma feature on this list as does Sunil Narine who performed creditably against India and Pakistan but failed against South Africa in a must win game in the group stages.

Within a tournament context, the highest impact bowlers are – Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, James Anderson and James Tredwell.

Jadeja, Ashwin and Sharma got in a tournament-defining performance whereas Anderson and Tredwell were outstanding throughout the tournament.

Highest Pressure Impact Batsmen – David Miller, Robin Peterson and Misbah-ul-Haq.

The fact that two South African batsmen top this list tells the story of instability in their batting order throughout the tournament. Peterson was promoted up the batting order twice in the tournament with South Africa under pressure and he successfully absorbed it both times to give his team the momentum. Miller and Misbah played their part but it was the collective failure of the rest of the batting order in their respective teams which led to their misery.

Highest Chasing Impact Batsmen – Kumar Sangakkara, Shikhar Dhawan and Chris Gayle.

Sangakkara’s magnificent run-chase against England makes him top the list. His innings was even more commendable given the fact that Sri Lanka were the lowest Chasing Impact team (along with West Indies) before the tournament. Dhawan, on the other hand, successfully shepherded India through all the three times they chased in the tournament whereas Gayle finds a place due to his immensely valuable knock while chasing against Pakistan under pressure in the beginning of the tournament.

Most consistent batsmen (lowest failure rate) – Shikhar Dhawan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Chris Gayle.

The best feature about Dhawan’s performance in this tournament was his consistency . He had a 0% failure rate (succeeded in all the matches) and was exceptional throughout the tournament. Misbah was the only saving grace in Pakistan’s batting order whereas Gayle got the crucial starts for West Indies in the tournament (even though he didn’t go on to make big scores).

Highest Wickets Tally Impact Bowlers – James Anderson, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma.

Even though Jadeja took 12 wickets compared to Anderson’s 11, it was the latter who had a higher Wickets Tally Impact in the tournament. Anderson had more top/middle order wickets than Jadeja.

Highest Economy Impact Bowlers – James Anderson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja.

Conventionally, there are 7 bowlers with a better economy rate than that of Anderson’s but he is still the highest Economy Impact bowler because of the amount of runs he conceded relative to the match situation (match context). Both, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja were exceptional when it came to stifling their opponents and were a major reason behind India’s success in this campaign.

Highest Pressure-Building Impact Bowlers (taking wickets in succession) – James Tredwell, Sunil Narine and James Anderson.

James Tredwell has been England’s highest impact spinner in ODIs in the last one year and he proved it once again with his performances in this tournament. He was a constant threat to the opposition and had the uncanny knack of picking up wickets. He had his highest Pressure-Building Impact performance against South Africa in the semi-finals where he ran through their middle-order to set up an easy win for England. Both Sunil Narine and James Anderson feature on this list for their performances against Pakistan and New Zealand respectively.

Most consistent bowlers (lowest failure rate) – Ravindra Jadeja, James Anderson and Ishant Sharma.

No surprises in any of the names here except for maybe Ishant Sharma. Even though Ishant looked out of sorts in some of the spells that he bowled, he continuously kept on taking wickets and ended up as the third-highest Wickets Tally Impact bowler in the tournament. It is his wicket-taking ability more than anything else that made him a consistent performer in this edition of the Champions Trophy

A final word about the man who has been booed more than any other Indian player in recent times. Everyone with cognitive ability would be convinced about Ravindra Jadeja’s ability by now. That word is “great”. What people would not know by just looking at naked, unprocessed stats is that Ravindra Jadeja is currently the highest impact player in Indian ODI history (MS Dhoni, Kapil Dev and Tendulkar follow Jadeja). Of course, he has just played 70 matches, batted merely 48 times, bowled 67 times, and still has a long career ahead (and these numbers, and this status, will go through considerable modification). But even within this career, he has 3 series/ tournament-defining performances – that’s one every 23 matches, which is astounding. Dhoni has one in every 27 matches, Tendulkar every 45 matches, Kohli 34. The biggest joke now will be if the jokes on him persist.

Finally, for all those who are comparing the 2011 World Cup winning squad with this one – it is interesting to note that there are 5 players from this 2013 squad who feature on a list of India’s 10 highest impact ODI players of all time (minimum 50 matches). The 2011 team had 3. This, in itself, is very revealing. 2015 will be interesting.

 

Jaideep Varma
Soham Sarkhel