Kl Rahul’s Big Score Famine & the Middle Order’s pursuit of Big Scores

Introduction

Batting on foreign soil is the ultimate test for an international batsman. Hence runs scored abroad have a higher weightage and value compared to the ones scored on home soil. Whenever we look at any batsman’s career, it is always important to dissect Home and away batting records for this very reason. Considering the modern day’s hectic schedule, batsman these days get a minimum amount of time to get used to the foreign conditions. If we specifically look at batting against the Duke ball in the United Kingdom, it requires a specialist skill to be able to adjust to this type of bowling. The Duke ball has a very strange phenomenon, where it starts to swing extravagantly, after it is 15 to 20 overs old. There is always an impact of overhead overcast clouds which play a part, however for the batsman to adjust in these alien conditions, it requires test of skill, patience and mental toughness.

Indian Batting in UK in 21st Century

Due to the above-mentioned battling conditions, the tourist team always has their task cut out when it comes to playing in England. India has played 18 test series in the UK so far in history, out of which they have been able to win three times and drawn once [2002]. The remaining 15 series have been lost by the Indians. Given how lop sided the historical record might be, in the last series in 2018, it was much closer contest then what the final score line would suggest.

If we focus our attention to the different series which have taken place in the 21st century, we would see a very strange batting phenomenon which is depicted in the visual below.

Middle Order ( batting pos 3 to 7) Averages have dropped in Last decade
Middle Order (batting pos 3 to 7) Averages have dropped in Last decade

The first thing that comes to attention is that the overall batting averages since 2002 have come down drastically, till the last series back in 2018. The point to note here is that 2002 in the overall history of India’s Test cricket in England was the best batting performance so far. Having said this you would notice that the batting averages of the middle order [batting positions from number 3 to number 7] have dropped drastically in the last decade [series of 2011 to series of 2018].

The visual below is another indicator on how consistent the Indian batting has been in this century. The number of scores which the Indian batsmen have scored greater than 50 is being depicted below.

Indian Openers havent scored more than 50 Plus in last decade compared to the previous decade.
Indian Openers havent scored more than 50 Plus in last decade compared to the previous decade.

The visual above indicates that the middle order in a series in England scores between 10 to 12 times past the 50 runs mark [on an average]. However, the most striking feature is the 50 plus scores of opening batsmen over the course of these 5 series in the 21st century. It depicts massive drop in the contributions made by the opening batsman to get past a 50 plus score in the last decade.

Key Findings

  • Indian Openers haven’t provided platform in the last 3 Tours. Only 7 occasions out of 56 opportunities, they have crossed 50 plus score. Out of these 7, 2 of them have been Scored by Rahul Dravid who played as an Opener.
  • Middle Order’s batting avgs have dropped & they are not converting 50s to 100s as frequently as before. Only 6 out of 30 half centuries have been converted into centuries.

KL Rahul’s Big Score Famine

During KL Rahul’s career, he has been utilized for a multi-purpose role. Either as a wicketkeeper in white ball cricket or as an opener/ middle order batsman in Test match cricket.

 Rahul averages 35 in tests, with 44 at home & 30 Away
Rahul averages 35 in tests, with 44 at home & 30 Away

At the initial stage of his career he made an entry in the team as a test opener where he impressed one and all few years back. Rahul averages 44 at home, while on foreign soil, he scores at 30.Below visual will show how his career has progressed with his batting averages and the number of games that he has played by year.

Rahul Dip in Form started in 2018
Rahul Dip in Form started in 2018

The above visual indicates that in the recent years his consistency has dropped, which eventually led to his opening spot being taken away for other fellow openers such as Mayank Agarwal & Shubham Gill. With Gil injured for the upcoming 2021 series and Agarwal who may get an opportunity later in the series, this is an extremely vital opportunity for Rahul to make a resounding come back as a test opener. With the above statistics on openers in UK which were shared, the key question is will KL Rahul be able to amend that statistic/ performance this series by providing more 50 plus scores & provide a platform for the team?

Middle Order’s Conversion Rate

Among the key findings related to middle order batting, it is very important to understand the three big kingpins in India’s batting around which the rest of the batting revolves. Pujara at #3, Kohli at #4 and Rahane at #5. If we calculate the number of times these players have crossed the 50 plus score milestone and look at how many times have they converted this into a big 100. We would arrive at conversion rate for this key experienced batsman in UK, who will be playing their third series in 2021.

Kohli's Scores a century 40% of the time after crossing 50, while Rahane only scores 20% of the time in UK
Kohli’s Scores a century 40% of the time after crossing 50, while Rahane only scores 20% of the time in UK

The above visual indicates that all these three batsmen have played approximately equal number of games in UK over the past seven years. However, when it comes to percentage conversion rate, where at Kohli converts 40% office innings when he gets past 50 into a big century. Rahane only manages to convert 20% of his innings when he gets past 50 into a big 100 in England.

If the Indian middle order wants to change the above statistic on improving middle order batting averages in England, they will need to increase their conversion rates much higher to be able to put enough runs on the board for they are incisive bowling attack to put pressure on the young English batting order. Will these big three be able to do this in the current 2021 series?

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