Sunday, January 15, 2006

Who needs boring draws?

Is India virtually out of this Test (104/0, still 614 behind Pakistan) or does she still have a chance here?

Well, Indian fans can take solace from the fact that while India’s chances of winning this game are virtually nil, they can still finish with a ‘favourable’ result. For Pakistan's point of view, the game is not in the bag and they still have to do a lot of hard work to win this Test.

Here is a graph showing a Team’s chance of winning or losing depending on the first innings score of a Test Match (based on all Test matches played around the world).

(click on this and all other images to enlarge)

As you can see India still have about a 50% chance of “not losing” this game because Paksitan have only a 50% chance of winning (simple math really), thus giving India the option to go for the draw. While we can all do without high scoring boring draws, we have to acknowledge that they form an integral part of Test cricket as they eliminate (or reduce) imbalances in the game.

Had this been an ODI game and Pakistan would have scored something similar (say 350+, which is, IMO, the equivalent to 650+ in Tests), the game would have been virtually sealed after the first innings, and Indian fans would have watched the game out of hope rather than expectation.

Here is how a Team’s chances of winning is linked to their 1st innings score (I have excluded rain excluded ODIs that were decided by D/L or similar methods)

As you can see, because ODIs do not have the luxury of a draw, high scoring games tend to get very one-sided in favour of the Team batting first. So though 4s and 6s make seem exciting, too many of them in a game do not make a game exciting.

Now, while I am not trying to condone these kind of high-scoring games played on placid pitches, I would still take something like this to a high scoring ODI.

Very reluctantly, I must add...

ps. I had started this analysis before this game, hence I only have a 500+ column. In hind sight...