Partnerships in the game of cricket are an integral part of an innings and plays a pivotal role in phase-wise acceleration, innings progression and bailing out the team in times of an unprecedented collapse. The roles of the batsmen in a given partnership is subjective, mostly hingeing on the phase and order of the innings in question.
Anchoring and explosion are two broadly known dynamics when it comes to categorization of batsmen based on their style of play. However there is something deeper at crease. The role-oriented approach is a game changer in twenty over cricket. Teams are selecting a playing eleven in a way that everyone brings something to the table, meaning every single one of them is the best in the business for a given situation.
However, there is a batsman who can play different roles and emerges to be world-class in all of them. There might be many who do it, but consistently there is one player among them who plays multiple roles effortlessly and efficiently. He might be the best partner to share the crease with in the shorter version of white ball cricket – and his name is Nicholas Pooran. In this cricket analysis, we will analyse Pooran’s versatile ability, and use our analysis to look at him as a batting partner.
Vertical white line: Pooran Runs per non-boundary ball; Vertical orange line: non-striker runs per non-boundary ball.
He is very methodical when it comes to running between the wickets. Pooran takes the backseat by rotating strike when his partner wants to explode. The strike rotation between the batsmen is almost distributed equally when Pooran is on the pitch, point in case being, when Chris Gayle is Pooran’s partner, both of them try to rotate strike at a rate of 0.45 runs per non boundary ball. When Pooran plays with a quick runner like Glenn Maxwell or David Miller, the rotation rate increases to almost 0.8. The gap between the vertical lines reinforces the hypothesis.
Pooran’s equally distributed strike rotation awareness (dependent on non-striker) makes him an extremely sensible batsmen. To put things in perspective, let us take a player who has multi dimensional traits like Pooran, or at least comes close to that, in Moeen Ali.
The gap between the vertical lines widens because of asymmetric strike rotation. Ali, like Pooran, rotates strike according to the batsman at the non-striker’s end, but the partner in spotlight does not rotate strike back at the same pace as Ali. It does not mean that Ali is defensive and wants to play second fiddle, it simply signifies that Pooran is equally good in taking the back seat and accelerating effortlessly.
Pooran has the tenth- and eighth- best balls-per-boundary and boundary percent respectively. His ability and intent to score quickly align well: 70% of his runs come through boundaries, and he averages a boundary once in every five balls. The batsmen Pooran plays with have almost the same strike rate as him in that particular partnership. Ali’s strike rate is up and over 150 in all partnerships irrespective of the batsmen at the other end, unlike Pooran.
If Pooran plays with Maxwell or Miller, it means his role is to accelerate and decimate. It is a hard-hitting fact that Pooran has scored almost equal of runs as an anchor with the openers and accelerating by oneself.
Pooran might be an efficient partner because of his structured batting approach. He plays fewer dot balls and makes sure that the pressure does not mount upon his partner and vice-versa. Taking the game deep might backfire sometimes because of inflating pressure initiating a collapse.
Pooran faces relatively fewer dot balls when compared to Ali. An important trait that separates Pooran from the rest of the players asides flexibility, though, is responsibility. Out of all batsmen who have faced a minimum of 200 balls in the Indian Premier League since 2018, he has played the highest percentage of balls in any given partnership and has scored the highest percentage of runs outscoring the average non-striker. He is one of, if not the best, partner to share the crease with.
Although Pooran did not have an overwhelming first half of IPL 2021, he surely will not succumb to momentary form issues, because as they say: form is temporary, but class is permanent.