Longer version, Shorter stay


Anyone who has followed the Indian team over the last year and a half should have seen it coming. Not just their second-innings collapse in Mumbai, but also the events of Day One, when they were teetering at 169/6. An undercurrent of fragility has run through India's batting lineup ever since another landmark day at the Wankhede. Correlation does not imply causation. But the 2011 World Cup forms a neat hinge point, as far as India's batting fortunes have gone.

From the start of the 2008 home series against Australia, when MS Dhoni took over the captaincy of the Test team, till the World Cup, six out of India's top seven were remarkably settled. In that period, excluding the 2010 series against Bangladesh, four of them faced an average of 95 balls or more per innings. Dhoni's balls per innings (BPI) figure was 71.53 and Virender Sehwag's (at a strike rate of 93.08) was 58.20.

Since then, their stickability has taken a collective nosedive.

Post-World Cup, 49 batsmen have faced 1000 or more balls in Tests, led by Alastair Cook's 3972 balls in 35 innings. Of those 49 batsmen, Cook has the fourth-best BPI (113.49). Cheteshwar Pujara sits atop that list, at 174.57.

Pujara, of course, has only played seven innings. But he has faced more deliveries (1222) in seven innings than Sehwag (910) in 24.

Rahul Dravid (102.44) is the next most stickable Indian batsman after Pujara, followed by Virat Kohli (71.27). In the same period, 31 batsmen from around the world have faced more balls per innings than Kohli, including Ricky Ponting (struggling), Andrew Strauss (retired after form slump) and Kirk Edwards (dropped). Obviously, BPI doesn't tell the whole story, especially for batsmen who score very slowly or very quickly or bat down the order. It's also tied to how teammates do. The other Indians have had a miserable time of it (see box).

... contd.

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