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Stats analysis – Suryakumar Yadav in a league of his own in T20Is

Suryakumar Yadav has lit up the T20I format like no other batsman before him. While Suryakumar’s three hundred and 13 fifties – in just 43 innings – is impressive, it’s even more incredible that he averages 46.4 while scoring 180.3.

Which the success rate is too high to match the consistency that average represents. T20 batters are offensive or consistent. They are very rarely both at the same time; even if they are, they are not as long as Suryakumar managed.

Let’s put those numbers in perspective. Andre Russell scored 627 runs with a batting rate of 168.1 in 43 innings from 2014 to 2021. This was the highest batting rate achieved by a batsman before Suryakumar during a span equal to his own, in terms of innings. But Russell only averaged 21.6.

However, Suryakumar has benefited from playing many T20Is within two years of his debut while in top form. Most of the other batters have had T20I appearances over extended periods. So the vagaries of the times probably influenced the form of batters like Russell.

A fairer comparison would be with Jos Buttler. In his last 43 innings, Buttler averaged 45.1 on 151.5. That is the highest hit rate for any batter other than Suryakumar, who averages 45+ over 43 innings in T20Is. Suryakumar’s success rate is almost 19% better than Buttler’s in this time frame. That’s how rare it is to link an average of 45+ with a success rate of 180+ over an extended period of time.

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Importantly, this incredible form has not come to scoring any easy runs. Suryakumar has saved India’s at bat a few times now, scoring in conditions and against strikes that the other Indian batters found difficult to score.

Take the 2022 T20 World Cup match against South Africa. On a fast, springy pitch in Perth, and against some of the fastest pacers in the game, Suryakumar hit 68 off 40 balls. The other Indian batters only scored 57 runs off the other 80 balls. Suryakumar hit runs on 170, while the other Indian batters had a combined batting percentage of only 71.25.

As of 2018, Full-Member team batters have averaged just over 23.5 and scored at a batting rate of 128.7. Based on these numbers, we can possibly assume that an average of 25 and a pass rate of 130 is normal for the course in T20Is over the past five years.

Since Suryakumar’s debut, there have been seven occasions when India’s batting – not counting him – has underperformed on both average and strike rate (average below 25 and scored at below 130 speed) in T20Is. He scored 441 points at an average of 88.2 and a strike rate of 196 in these games, including two of his three hundred. His contribution to India’s totals (walks only) in these games was a whopping 40.5%.

In 15 matches where India’s top league has only underperformed in terms of average, Suryakumar has scored 770 runs at an average of 64.2 and a strike rate of 184.2. His contribution is 31.9%. In a further 15 matches, when India’s best player underperformed in pass rate alone, he scored 852 runs at an average of 77.5 and a pass rate of 186.4. His contribution to these matches was 36.7%.

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More than half of his runs have been scored in games where the other Indian batters scored at a rate of less than 130. Significantly, in these matches, Suryakumar scored with a batting rate that exceeds the combined batting rate of the other Indian batters by 67 .2%.

Of the 104 batters with at least 15 such innings (performing when their teammates underperformed) since 2018, none come close to Suryakumar – either in terms of the percentage contribution they make to their team’s runs, or at the pace of their teammates.

Second best when it comes to percentage contribution is Buttler, scoring 29.1% of England’s runs in 21 such matches. The second best in terms of being faster than their teammates is Moeen Ali, who surpasses other England batsmen’s strike rate by 42% in 15 such matches. But looking at the other part of the equation, Buttler scores these points 22.6% faster than his teammates, compared to Suryakumar’s 67.2%, while Moeen contributes 20.6% to England’s totals in these matches versus Suryakumar’s 36.7%.

Overall, India’s batters on the other hand have scored 1066 runs with an average of 27.3 and a strike rate of 136.7 when Suryakumar was on the crease in T20Is. Suryakumar averages 20.5 runs more per dismissed bowler than his partners in the middle and gets 44 more runs per 100 balls. No batters with a cut-off of at least 1000 runs (in the past five years) come close to beating their partners.

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Having such skills may enable him to score runs against the best bowlers in the format as well. As of 2021, no batsman has scored more runs than him against the top-20 T20I bowlers according to the ICC rankings. Suryakumar also has the highest strike rate against these bowlers among batters with at least 200 runs against them. With a 38.2 average and 162.8 strike rate against these bowlers, he offers the best combination of consistency and hitting aggression.

Suryakumar has taken T20 batting to a level previously unseen in international cricket. As with all great forms, Suryakumar’s purple patch will eventually come to an end. But his numbers so far have shown that consistency and aggression are not mutually exclusive.

Images produced by Ashwini Adole

Shiva Jayaraman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo @shiva_cricinfo

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