Like our piece about the 50-over World Cup of 2011 which India won, here are some things you would not know about the World T20 that just got over, which West Indies won.
Shane Watson was not the highest impact player of the World T20. Mohammad Hafeez was.
The choice of Shane Watson as Man-of-the-Tournament here was even more absurd than the ICC seedings and the dead group matches that took place in the first half of the tournament. It was based on his high presence on the runs and wickets tally charts, and the 4 consecutive Man-of-the-Match awards he won. It completely ignored big match performance – Watson failed with both bat and ball in the only knockout match he played in (0-35 in 4 overs; 7 off 9 balls) – in the semi against West Indies. A perfect example of how conventional tally stats are so misleading.
The 5 highest impact players in the tournament were (in this order; min. 3 matches) – Mohammad Hafeez, Marlon Samuels, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson and Mahela Jayawardene.
Mohammad Hafeez, who performed consistently with bat and ball right through the tournament (including the losing semi against Sri Lanka), should have been Man-of-the-Tournament. If it had to be someone from the winning side (a flawed idea though, and that is primarily why 45% of MoM awards are given to the wrong player in all 3 formats), then it should have gone to Marlon Samuels. Shockingly, Hafeez did not even make ICC’s World T20 XI announced after the tournament.
Yuvraj Singh was India’s highest impact bowler.
Contrary to what most experts have said, India did not play badly in this tournament. The flair and consistency may have been missing but they won 2 matches easily and 1 even after the motivation was gone (as they were knocked-out). In their sole defeat against Australia, they were very unlucky with the rain that messed up the conditions enough to render their 3 spinners redundant and the thrashing there affected their net-run-rate fatally. The stunning fact that emerges though is India’s highest impact bowler (minimum 3 matches) was supposedly a part-timer – Yuvraj Singh (incidentally, Man-of-the-Tournament Yuvraj’s bowling in the 2011 World Cup was actually more high impact than even his batting). Conventionally speaking, Yuvraj took 8 wickets in 5 matches at an economy rate less than 6, but it is only when you look at the context of the performances and combine wicket-taking with economy that you see his contribution defined clearly (ahead of Ashwin, Balaji, Pathan and Zaheer Khan). Yuvraj was India's highest impact player in the tournament - definitely a comeback from a limited-overs great.
It does make one wonder about India’s current bowling strength though, to be fair, both Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla had a higher impact than Yuvraj with the ball but they both played just 2 matches each.
The best bowling performance in the tournament (against a non-Associate nation) came from Harbhajan Singh.
For a team considered to have an inadequate bowling attack in this World T20, it is revealing that the highest impact bowling performance (against a Super-8 team) came from an Indian (Harbhajan Singh’s 4-12 against England in the dead group match). And that too someone who just played 2 matches – one of the noticably strange decisions Dhoni took in this tournament.
There were only 2 spinners amongst the 6 highest impact bowlers in the tournament (minimum 3 matches).
It is very interesting that the 6 highest impact bowlers in the tournament (min. 3 matches) were Ajantha Mendis, Sunil Narine, Dale Steyn, Steven Finn, Shane Watson and Mitchell Starc. Four fast men in the top 6 in Sri Lankan conditions where spin was the most preferred and lethal weapon till the end. Clearly, there is far more pace talent in the top levels of international cricket today than spin.
The most consistent West Indian bowler was Samuel Badree.
Despite the hype around Sunil Narine (which he lived up to), the highest impact T20 West Indian bowler before the tournament began was actually Samuel Badree for two things – his ability to restrict (economy) and consistency (low failure rate). On both these counts, Badree was once again the highest impact West Indian bowler. Along with Dwayne Bravo, he was also the one with the maximum Series/Tournament-defining performances (2), and though he did not add to that tally in this tournament, his consistency in the knockouts played an important role.
For all the hype around him, this is Chris Gayle’s first Series/Tournament-defining performance in his T20 career.
Many consider him the finest T20 batsman in the world. Interestingly, before the tournament began, Gayle was the 11th-highest impact T20 batsman amongst batsmen from the Super 8 teams (if the minimum was 30 matches - Nazir, Malik, Raina, Watson, Guptill, Hussey, Darren Bravo, Taylor, Kallis and Warner were all higher impact than him). The reason was simple – Gayle did not have a single Series/Tournament-defining performance in his entire T20 career (international and domestic) – he has not been a distinguished big match player (not even in 50-over cricket). In the semi-final against Australia, Gayle’s scintillating performance was a rare big match performance from him, and because West Indies went on to win the tournament (despite Gayle characteristically failing in the final), he registered his first Series/Tournament-defining performance.
Dwayne Bravo absorbed the highest pressure amongst West Indian batsmen.
The older Bravo brother absorbed pressure right through this tournament in a batting line-up more prone to exploding than accumulating, which also resulted often in quick wickets. Like in the final, Bravo stabilised the innings whenever West Indies was in strife and played an unheralded, but critical, role in West Indies’ road to the title.
Sri Lanka was lucky to reach the final; all thanks to Jayawardene.
No other team was reliant on one single batsman in their side (not even Australia on Watson) as Sri Lanka was on Jayawardene – who was magnificent in the tournament – his consistency remarkable for a player who has never been a T20 natural (a 14% failure rate is awe-inspiring for a batsman, especially one on whom there is so much pressure). He failed against South Africa in a 8-over dead group match (the only match Sri Lanka lost before the final) and then produced this run of scores – 44, 65*, 42, 42 and 33 (the last, his lowest in this sequence but still the highest scorer for his team in the final, had his team promptly folding up.) Sangakkara and Dilshan registered the highest impact with the bat after him (though much below him), and no-one else in the team justified his place in the team as a batsman. Jayawardene's consistency at the top camouflaged Sri Lanka's highly inadequate batting power. Even their strong bowling would not have got Sri Lanka past the Super-8 stage, if not for their stellar captain in the form of his life.
The highest impact bowler from a non-super-8 side (minimum 2 matches) was from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan was the only one from the non-Super-8 sides (which included 2 Test-playing countries) that provided some strife to Super 8 sides (India and England in this case, though they lost both matches). Interestingly, medium-pacer Dawlat Zadran was the highest impact bowler amongst these 4 sides (Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ireland being the others) – primarily for his ability to restrict (Economy). This augurs very well for Afghanistan as a team.
The 4 highest impact bowling sides before the tournament began eventually were the 4 semi-finalists.
Batting has often been seen as the mainstay in the shorter form of cricket. But it is now proven without doubt that bowling is the more important function. That is the reason why the teams with the highest impact bowling made it to the semis - namely Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies. This is perhaps also the reason why one doesn’t see minnow sides causing upsets as often as in 50-over cricket. For example, no minnow side caused an upset in the last two T20 World Cups; however, you will be hard-pressed to find a 50-over World Cup where at least one of the main teams has not been upset by a minnow. The reason appears to be quality bowling – clearly, the rarer commodity in the sport – the minnows take longer to get their bowling to the required standard than their batting. And in this more compact version of the sport, that is accentuated more (and the stronger sides also perhaps don't get enough time to lose concentration and drop their guard for a bit).
The highest impact 4 sides before the tournament began were Pakistan, West Indies, India and Australia. Three of them made the semi-finals.
Going by the constituents of each squad, and the impact of each player in every single T20 match he played, both international and domestic, we had Pakistan, West Indies, India and Australia as the highest impact sides. Due to the myopic groupings, we had picked Pakistan and India to go through from the group of death, but since, in their crucial super-8 match against Australia, India were let down by the conditions that rendered their spinners impotent, Australia went through. West Indies and Sri Lanka went through in the other group and eventually, one of the 2 highest impact sides (Pakistan and West Indies) won. Interesting that for a form of the game considered so unpredictable, so much can actually be computed even before the matches even take place.