The Finn-Cook-Pietersen show, in this order
It is not often when two teams whitewash each other in two different formats. If anything, England would have expected to prevail in the Tests and perhaps find a considerable struggle in ODIs given their recent record in that format in the subcontinent. But exactly the opposite happened in the U.A.E. as after their 0-3 thrashing in the Tests, England hammered Pakistan 4-0 in the ODIs.
More oddities were in store. In conditions universally considered batting-friendly, 260 was the highest team score in the series. Even more surprisingly, the best bowler was not a spinner.
Here are the highest impact players of the series.
Only players who played 2 or more matches in the Series considered for this table.
All IMPACT numbers between 0 and 5.
It has been one of the game’s oldest blind spots – the batsman’s heroic feats overshadowing equivalent or greater feats by the bowler’s in the same space. Steven Finn’s performances in this series have suffered that fate. He took 13 wickets at an average of 10 in the series with the lowest economy rate (3.35) amongst all bowlers on show. The opposition’s best three bowlers were spinners. And yet, he was not given the Man-of-the-Series award.
The award went to captain Alastair Cook, by no means tackily. He was, by far, the best batsman of the series – delivering spectacularly in each of the first three matches, failing only in the fourth match (when the series was dead). Finn, on the other hand, delivered in each of the 4 innings he bowled in. While Kevin Pietersen, by virtue of two sensational performances in the last two matches, gave Cook considerable support in the batting department, no one came even close to that in the bowling department for England. Or look at it like this – Finn was the highest impact bowler thrice in the series; Cook was the highest impact batsman twice. Finn, quite simply, was England’s sole bowling achiever in the series, something that perhaps deserved more reflection. This England team without Cook’s batting would have done slightly better than without Finn’s bowling – that is what the evidence says. On the IMPACT scale, even after accounting for Cook’s captaincy points, Finn comes up with a higher impact in the series – and should have been the Man-of-the-Series.
Pietersen had the highest batting average in the series ahead of Cook but Cook had the higher Batting IMPACT in the series as Pietersen did not do much beyond his 2 centuries in the last two games, while Cook failed only in one match in the series.
Pietersen had the highest Chasing IMPACT in the series well ahead of anyone. Both his centuries came in successful chases, one while staying not out as an opener and the second while facing pressure. He also had the highest Strike Rate IMPACT (ability to score fast within the context of the match) in the series.
Shahid Afridi was the highest-impact batsman for Pakistan. He had the highest Strike Rate IMPACT for Pakistan and also absorbed pressure. He was the only player to come close to having an all-round IMPACT in the series (both Batting and Bowling IMPACT over 1). His Batting IMPACT of 1.87 and Bowling IMPACT of 0.99 was a departure from recent times. Given how much his batting had taken a back-seat, compared to his bowling, it would perhaps please him considerably.
Umar Akmal absorbed the maximum pressure (Pressure IMPACT) while batting in the series followed by Pietersen and Kieswetter. His overall Batting IMPACT for the series was at a respectable 1.73, not reflected in his 105 runs and batting average of 26 at a strike rate of 60.
Amongst bowlers, as already mentioned, Finn had the highest Bowling IMPACT in the series. Besides his ability to take wickets, he also bowled very tightly to have the highest Economy IMPACT in the series and had the highest Pressure Building IMPACT in the series.
Saeed Ajmal had the highest Bowling IMPACT (2.84) in the series for Pakistan. The second-highest Bowling IMPACT after Ajmal is as low as 1.29 (less than half) by Abdur Rehman.
All of Pakistan’s bowlers (who bowled in 2 matches or more) had a negative Economy IMPACT except for Abdur Rehman. Rehman had the highest Economy IMPACT for Pakistan but failed to take wickets in his 2 matches.
Overall, England had a Team IMPACT of 2.28 in the series as compared to Pakistan’s 1.56. A gap that befits a thrashing.
Cook’s innings in the first match (137 runs in 142 balls) was the highest impact batting performance in the series. Beyond him, only Bopara registered a half century in the entire match.
Interestingly, Finn’s bowling effort in the same match (4 for 34 in 10 overs) was the highest-impact bowling performance in the series.
Perhaps that first match immaculately set the tone for the series.
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