Sachin Tendulkar: His double ton is not even the highest impact innings of his career.
Sachin Tendulkar: His double ton is not even the highest impact innings of his career.

Sachin Tendulkar scored the first double hundred in ODI cricket against South Africa in Gwalior in 2010. It was hailed as a great landmark with the romantics dissecting every stroke and the cricketing fraternity going into a frenzy.

Yes, it was a significant milestone – a first of its kind in 39 years of ODI cricket. But then it was only that – a milestone.
That it was not even Tendulkar’s highest impact batting performance of his career is a separate matter altogether.

A number of factors (all intrinsic to the scorecard) go in determining the impact of a batting performance. But the basic premise is that all performances are analyzed in comparison with other performances in the same match – thus providing them a context. Several factors like runs scored, strike rate, pressure absorbed (off falling wickets), ability to build partnerships and chase are taken into consideration but all relative to other performances in the match.

Five more double hundreds have been scored since 2010.
With scoring rates at an all-time high since the advent of T20, shorter boundaries, thicker and better bats, flat pitches and batsman-friendly ODI rules, that is hardly surprising. But what is startling is this.

Only one double hundred (from amongst the six) features in the top 30 highest impact ODI batting performances of all time.

Let us examine why.

THE EXCEPTION

The highest impact double ton is Rohit Sharma’s 264 (in 173 deliveries) against Sri Lanka in Kolkata in November, 2014. Sharma scored 40% of the match total. The Indian opener also absorbed pressure when wickets fell at the other end (40 for 1 and 59 for 2). The second-highest score in the Indian innings of 404 was 66. Sri Lanka replied with 251. The highest score in their innings was just 75.
Sharma’s strike rate was also much higher than the match norm. This helped him register a high Batting Impact .
Sharma’s performance is the fifth-highest impact batting performance in ODI cricket history.

Highest impact innings amongst the double tons
Rohit Sharma: His 264 against Sri Lanka is the highest impact innings amongst the double tons.

HIGH TOTALS, REDUCED IMPACT

Martin Guptill scored 237 in 163 deliveries in a New Zealand total of 393 against West Indies in the 4th Quarter-Final of the World Cup, 2015, in Wellington. The second-highest score of the innings was Ross Taylor’s 42. West Indies were bowled out for 250 in bizarrely just the 31st over.
Guptill scored 37% of the total runs scored in the match (3% lower than Sharma’s) and his Strike Rate Impact and Pressure Impact were also lower and as such his overall Batting performance registered a 19% lower impact.

This gap meant that Guptill’s double hundred – the second-highest score in ODI cricket is only the thirty-second highest impact batting performance in ODI history.

A similar pattern emerges from the rest of the 200+ scores in ODIs.

Virender Sehwag’s 219 vs West Indies, Indore, 2011:
% of team total: 52%
% of match total: 32%
Impact shared with: Gambhir (67), Raina (55) and Ramdin (96).

Tendulkar’s unbeaten 200 v South Africa:

% of team total: 50%
% of match total: 31%
Impact shared with: Karthik (79), Dhoni (68) and de Villiers (114).

Rohit Sharma’s 209 vs Australia, Bangalore, 2013:

% of team total: 55%
% of match total: 29%
Impact shared with: Dhoni (62), Dhawan (60), Faulkner (116) and Maxwell (60)

Chris Gayle’s 215 vs Zimbabwe, Canberra, World Cup, 2015:

% of team total: 58%
% of match total: 33%
Impact shared with: Samuels (133)

All of these scores were scored batting first within team totals of 370 and above. Although, four of the margins of victory were in excess of 140, all the second-innings totals were substantial which meant that the Match Base (average runs scored per batsman in the match) was very high in all the six matches. This, in turn, meant that high-scoring batsmen had to share impact with other batsmen in the match.

THE HIGHEST IMPACT ODI PERFORMANCES

The highest Impact ODI innings is Sanath Jayasuriya’s 161-ball 189 against India in the final of the Coca-Cola Champions Trophy in Sharjah in 2000. Batting first, Sri Lanka posted 299 off their allotted 50 overs. In reply, India were bowled out for just 54.
Jayasuriya scored 54% of the match total. The second-highest score was Russell Arnold’s 52.
India’s meagre score drastically reduced the Match Base – this being the telling difference between this match and the six double hundreds. This low Match Base coupled with the proportion of runs Jayasuriya scored in the match at a strike rate much higher than the match norm (in fact his performance has the highest Strike Rate Impact ever recorded in ODI history – read here), helped the Sri Lankan southpaw register an unprecedented high Batting Impact of 16.37.

Sanath Jayasuriya: His 189 against India is the highest impact innings in ODI history
Sanath Jayasuriya: His 189 against India is the highest impact innings in ODI history.

Vivian Richards scored 189 in just 170 balls in a West Indian total of 272 against England in Manchester in 1984 – it is the highest percentage of runs (69.5%) scored in a completed innings in ODI history.
Richards came out to bat at 11 for 2 and absorbed the pressure of falling wickets throughout his innings (43 for 3, 63 for 4…..166 for 9). He put together an unbeaten 106-run stand for the tenth-wicket with Michael Holding (who contributed 12) – a world record that still holds. England could only muster 168 in the chase. A low Match Base coupled with an exceptionally high Runs Tally Impact , Strike Rate Impact and Pressure Impact meant that Richard’s innings is the second-highest impact batting performance in ODI history.

Viv
Vivian Richards: Scored the highest percentage of runs (69.5%) in a completed innings in ODI history.

Another interesting example is Virender Sehwag’s unbeaten 99 in just 100 deliveries chasing 170 against Sri Lanka in Dambulla in 2010. He opened the innings for India and batted through the pressure of falling wickets at the other end (30 for 1, 31 for 2 and 32 for 3) scoring his runs at a rate much higher than the average match strike rate (70). India won by six wickets with more than 15 overs to spare.
Sehwag’s innings – the 1466th highest score in ODI cricket – is the eighth-highest batting performance in ODI cricket history – an astonishing fact which is not easily fathomed without giving his performance a context.

The highest scores are not necessarily the highest impact ones. The context of the performance is paramount.

Cricket’s prevailing obsession with aggregates and numerical records neglects this basic truth.

 

 

Nikhil Narain

Illustration: Rajni Kanth and Vasim Maner

NOTE: This piece is up-to-date as of August 2016