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The real Man of the Match

Published 29 May 2013
The real Man of the Match

Since the time men started thinking beyond the need for physical existence, philosophers have delved into the relationship between perception and truth. They have always stressed on the continuing presence of something more to what we see, more to anything we encounter, touch or feel.

At Starsports.com, we are making an attempt to apply this reasoning to sports with the Star Power Index, which Deepak Narayanan explains in detail here. We are making an effort to go deeper into what is shown to us, what is told to us, to see if there exists, as the thinkers like to call it, ‘a greater truth.’

And we are also breaking this philosophy down and applying it to particular areas of, in this case, a game of cricket. When the process of breaking down simple statistics begins, you realise how simple they actually are and how much more there is to an innings, a spell or a phase as small as an over.

To explain this concept further, we look at few examples where the man of the match was awarded based on simple statistics of runs scored or wickets taken but a deeper study shows why someone else had a greater influence on the match.

SRI LANKA VS NEW ZEALAND, PALLEKELLE

Man of the match: Lasith Malinga, 2/39

Winner: Sri Lanka

In the second ODI of the series, New Zealand choose to bat and made 250 for 6 with Ross Taylor rescuing the innings with a 62-ball 72. Rain affected the second innings and Sri Lanka were set a target of 105 from 22.5 overs and they secured a seven-wicket win off the final delivery. Since there was no big score in the Sri Lankan innings (Top score was 43* from Mahela Jayawardene) and the hosts did not have much difficulty while chasing, Malinga, because he was from the winning team, was adjudged the man of the match. Malinga’s SPI was 60.64, a total achieved mainly because he gave the initial breakthrough and was economical through the innings.

However, when you look at the situation in which Taylor batted and the way he ensured his team had a fighting chance, (chasing 250 in 50 overs is more difficult than making 105 in 22.5 overs) it is clear that the New Zealander had a bigger influence on the game and hence receives an SPI rating of 93.45.

Taylor came into bat 100/2 in the 27th over and counter-attacked well. His innings also ensured the run rate climbed steadily, a major factor in the Kiwis scoring 150 runs in 23.3 overs. When he batted, he was also under more pressure than when Malinga was bowling; his wicket early on would been a catastrophe for the visitors.

Furthermore, Malinga’s second wicket came off the last ball of the innings, which means it was not as crucial as taking a wicket earlier in the game as he would not have conceded more than six runs off that ball.

ENGLAND VS SOUTH AFRICA, LORD’S

Man of the match: Ian Bell, 88 (137)

Winner: England

England elected to field under overcast conditions meaning South Africa were always up against a strong pace bowling unit. They did well to reach 100 in 24.3 overs but lost their way a bit in the middle overs and could manage just 220/8 in 50 overs. With the pith easing up, England did not have much trouble chasing down the target with Ian Bell making 88 and support coming from Jonathan Trott’s 48 and six wickets in hand.

A look at the scorecard gives you the impression that Bell was the player of the match for anchoring the chase. But there’s more to it.

Hashim Amla was the second wicket to fall at 100 but given the overcast conditions, South Africa’s batting depth and the quality of England’s seam attack, it was not a bad position to be in.

Had the middle order fired, South Africa could have managed to get close to 250, a decent total in England. It was here that James Tredwell, England’s left-arm spinner, made the difference in conditions more suited for pace bowling.

Tredwell was the sixth bowler used by Alastair Cook, an indication of his mindset to bowl pacers as much as possible, and he returned figures of 3/39 in 10 overs. Tredwell sent back the dangerous Jean Paul Duminy just six runs after Amla fell and when South Africa were threatening to build a huge partnership, he dismissed the dangerous AB de Villiers with the score at 166/5 in the 41st over. To set the Proteas further back. Just eight runs later, Tredwell claimed his third, accounting for Wayne Parnell and suddenly South Africa were in trouble at 174/6 and in danger of being bowled out.

Considering that Tredwell was bowling in unfavourable conditions, that he came into bowl when South Africa were in a decent position and his ability to claim wickets when England needed it the most sees him get 95.15 SPI points.

In comparison, Bell, who came in when the conditions were better for batting and he was not in any real pressure considering that South Africa did not have a huge total on board, earns 78.3 SPI points.

This is not to take anything away from Bell, his innings did help England win. But the hard work was already done by Tredwell as his spell ensured England had the upper hand.

SRI LANKA VS INDIA, HAMBANTOTA

MoM: Virat Kohli 106 (113)

Winner: India

India elected to bat on a flat wicket and put up 314/6 in 50 overs with Virat Kohli making 106. Other contributions came from Virender Sehwag (96) and Suresh Raina (50) with MS Dhoni making a quick-fire 35 off 29 balls.

Sri Lanka fought hard through Kumar Sangakkara’s 151-ball 133 but did not find any support except Thisara Perera’s 44 from 28 balls and fell short by 21 runs. Kohli received the man of the match award for his century, the highest score in the Indian innings but it was Sangakkara’s knock that actually had the biggest impact on the game.

Both Kohli and Sangakkara, came in early after the fall of the first wicket. But Kohli had the luxury of playing himself in since it was the first innings and also had an in-from Sehwag scoring runs at the other end. Sangakkara on the other hand, had to ensure runs came at a fair clip and also had to account for Upul Tharanga (28 off 47 balls) who was not scoring as quickly as needed.

Kohli also received support from Raina and Dhoni while Sri Lanka kept losing wickets regularly with four middle order batsmen managing just 39 runs between them.

Despite this, Sangakkara held firm and kept his team in the game till the time he fell in the 48th over. Considering the situation and the context of the two knocks, Sangakkara gets 150.7 MVP points while Kohli gets 133.6.

PAKISTAN vs AUSTRALIA, SHARJAH

MoM: Michael Hussey, 65 (72)

Winner: Australia

Australia opted to field in the series-deciding third ODI and despite runs from openers Mohammad Hafeez (78) and Nasir Jamshed (48) restricted Pakistan to 244/7 with Mitchell Starc claiming 4/51.

The Australian reply was steady with Michael Hussey scoring 65 off 72 balls and Glen Maxwell scoring a quick-fire 38-ball 56 not out to seal the series.

Hussey received the man of the match for anchoring the innings but it was Maxwell who made a bigger difference in Australia’s win.

Maxwell bowled seven overs and even though he did not pick up any wickets, he conceded just 33 runs to keep the Pakistan scoring down while bowling against a set opening pair. The offie then returned after the 30th over with Pakistan looking for quick runs but continued to keep things tight. While this earned him some SPI points, Maxwell surged ahead of Hussey on our ranking charts because of the runs he scored at the situation in which they were scored.

While Hussey anchored the chase, he was dismissed when Australia did not have the game in their control. On the other hand, Maxwell took more chances, was under more pressure given the situation of the match and yet remained unbeaten to secure the win. Australia badly needed someone to bat with the lower order and yet score at a fair clip, something Maxwell did brilliantly. Because of his miserly bowling and superlative batting, he gets 112.4 SPI points. Hussey, on the other hand, gets 74.5 points. In fact, Hussey is not even second on our list with Hafeez fetching 103.3 points mainly because of his batting against the new ball and also for bowling tightly after opening the bowling returning figures of 0/49 in 10 overs.