Raj & Kaur at Three & Four

After a dream start of four wins in four games, a heavy defeat to South Africa leaves India needing a win against Australia or New Zealand to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

India began WWC17 by setting their highest total in an ODI against England. That total (281) was built on strong partnerships for the first three wickets (144 at 5.36 RPO, 78 at 4.97 & 59 at 7.86 respectively). India’s senior batsmen, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur batted at #3 and #4 in the batting order.

In India’s subsequent games, Raj has batted at #4 and Kaur has batted at #5 or #6 with allrounder Deepti Sharma inserted at #3. India’s highest total in their subsequent games has been 232 vs Sri Lanka and their average run rate has been 3.95.

The reasons for this change of batting order are hard to fathom, especially after analysing Raj and Kaur’s career statistics.

Statistics compiled using ESPNcricinfo’s Statsguru.

Raj’s career innings are fairly evenly split between batting in the top three (86 innings) and batting at four or lower (77 innings).

Raj ODI batting pos

None of Raj’s career centuries have come at below #3 in the batting order and she makes 50+ scores at a rate of one every 2.53 innings in the top 3 compared with once every 4.05 at #4 or lower.

Raj’s record needs filtering to provide a strike rate because she started her career before balls faced were routinely recorded for women’s ODIs by Cricinfo. It’s more useful to filter in any case, as run rates have changed so drastically since the start of her career. Since the 2013 World Cup, Raj has exclusively batted between #3-5 but there remains a marked difference in her record when batting at #3 compared with lower in the order.

Raj in ODI battng pos psot 2013 WC

The difference between Raj’s average at #3 and that at #4-5 is narrower in these results but she’s still scoring far more (39.67%) runs per innings at #3 (50) than she is at #4-5 (35.8). The extra time at the crease afforded by batting at #3 (an average of 67.75 balls per innings at #3, as opposed to 52.67 at #4-5) also seems to aid her strike rate by allowing her to ‘catch up’ on slow starts.

Harmanpreet Kaur is the only woman in ODI history to have scored more than one century batting at #4 or lower. Both of those centuries were made from #4 in the batting order.

Kaur in ODI battng pos

The disparity between Kaur’s record at #4 and that at #5 or lower has become greater since the 2013 World Cup.

Kaur in ODI battng pos psot 2013 WC

As individuals, there’s no doubt which batting positions are better for Raj and Kaur’s statistics. Their individual success is also reflected in India’s results.

Raj Kaur India win loss

Raj’s exceptional record in ODI chases – her average of 65.07 is only beaten by Lanning (20+ innings) – is built on her performances when batting in the top 3.

Conventional wisdom suggests batting lower in the order would result in a greater proportion of not outs. This isn’t the true of Raj in run chases. In the top 3, Raj averages 87.15 and has finished unbeaten in 17 of 36 chases (47.2%). At #4 or lower she averages 46.82, finishing unbeaten in 15 of 38 innings (39.5%).

Again, India’s win/loss record when Raj bats in the top 3 during a run chase is better than when she comes in at #4 or lower.

Raj in ODI chases

Opener Smriti Mandhana also seems to benefit when Raj comes in at first drop. India’s record chase vs New Zealand (221), at Benagaluru in 2015 was built on a strong 2nd wicket partnership between Raj & Mandhana (124). Raj & Kaur then finished the chase with a 3rd wicket stand of 48* from 40 deliveries.

During India’s 2016 tour of Australia, when Mandhana so impressed her hosts, she and Raj shared a 150 partnership (the highest for India’s 2nd wicket) on the way to India’s record ODI total vs Australia. That match ended in defeat but in the 3rd match of the series Mandhana & Raj combined for a 2nd wicket partnership of 58 before Raj & Kaur shared a 3rd wicket stand of 71 from 77 deliveries. The result was India’s highest successful chase against Australia (232) and their first win against them since 2009.

India’s five highest 2nd wicket partnerships have all involved Raj coming in at #3. The Mandhana/Raj pairing accounts for two of those. An impressive return, given they’ve shared a total of seven 2nd wicket partnerships. Since the 2013 World Cup, India have had eleven 50+ stands for the 3rd wicket. Six of those have been shared by Raj & Kaur.

Since the 2013 World Cup, India’s highest average partnership (5+ innings) against WWC17 sides has been Raj and opener Punam Raut (54.80 at 4.96 RPO). Next is Mandhana/Raj (54.33 at 4.34), followed by Raj/Kaur (46.00 at 4.15). It doesn’t make sense to split these players in the batting order, especially as Deepti Sharma’s average partnership with India’s two openers is lower in both average and run rate. Raut/Sharma average 33.57 at 3.56 RPO and Mandhana/Sharma average 29.00 at 3.80.

There is no guarantee of success. India have a losing record against both Australia and New Zealand but their chances of success will be enhanced if Raj and Kaur are given greater responsibility to shape the innings.


Women’s World Cup 2017 Preview

Historical and current trends both point towards the 2017 Women’s World Cup (WWC17) being among the highest scoring tournaments in history.

The progression in women’s ODI run rates over the decades, especially from the 1990s onward, has resulted in an average RR in the 2010s (4.04 RPO) over 47% higher than that seen in the 1970s (2.74).

Progression of women’s ODI run rates by decade:

Decade RR
1970s 2.74
1980s 2.81
1990s 3.18
2000s 3.66
2010s 4.04

The average RR since the 2013 World Cup is 4.07 RPO and the teams contesting WWC17 have scored at a combined 4.19 RPO during that period.

Women’s World Cup tournament run rates:

World Cup RR
1973 2.63
1978 2.66
1982 2.59
1988 2.73
1993 2.57
1997 3.62
2000 3.45
2005 3.35
2009 3.58
2013 4.27

2016 saw the highest ever RR for a calendar year (4.33) and the current rate for 2017 (4.17) makes it the 3rd highest scoring year on record. Half the WWC17 sides (England, India, South Africa and Pakistan) have set their record highest ODI totals since the 2013 World Cup.

The ICC Women’s Championship
 (ICCWC) qualifying format for WWC17 has been something of a revolution for women’s cricket. Mandatory fixtures between qualifying sides has provided unprecedented levels of match experience to the ‘lesser’ sides.

ODIs played since previous World Cup:

2005 2009 2013 2017
45 NZ 52 IND 39 ENG 58 SA
44 IND 49 ENG 38 WI 43 NZ
37 ENG 44 AUS 31 AUS 41 PAK
35 AUS 41 NZ 29 NZ 41 SL
23 WI 25 SL 26 IND 39 WI
19 IRE 23 PAK 24 SA 36 ENG
17 SL 16 SA 21 PAK 36 IND
14 SA 13 WI 20 SL 35 AUS

South Africa’s 58 ODIs played since the 2013 World Cup are the most ever played by a women’s ODI side between World Cups. For the first time in their history, Australia start a WWC as the side that has played the fewest ODIs since the previous tournament.

ODI win/loss record since 2013 World Cup:

Team Win/Loss Ratio Bat Ave. RR Bowl Ave. ER
AUS 27 / 7 3.86 37.54 5.01 25.10 4.43
IND 27 / 9 3.00 33.16 4.26 18.94 3.53
ENG 25 / 10 2.50 30.64 4.73 22.40 3.96
SA 32 / 23 1.39 26.77 4.22 22.62 3.88
NZ 25 / 18 1.39 29.55 4.65 23.94 3.99
WI 18 / 20 0.90 22.36 3.88 23.38 3.93
PAK 15 / 26 0.58 21.49 3.65 26.56 4.13
SL 6 / 33 0.18 17.21 3.35 34.19 4.48

ODI win/loss record vs top 8 sides since 2013 World Cup:

Team Win/Loss W/L Ratio Bat Ave. RR Bowl Ave. ER
AUS 27 / 7 3.86 37.54 5.01 25.10 4.43
ENG 25 / 10 2.50 30.64 4.73 22.40 3.96
IND 20 / 9 2.22 29.66 4.11 20.04 3.66
NZ 25 / 18 1.39 29.55 4.65 23.94 3.99
WI 18 / 20 0.90 22.36 3.88 23.38 3.93
SA 17 / 21 0.81 23.65 3.94 25.12 4.12
PAK 6 / 24 0.25 20.60 3.51 34.57 4.55
SL 4 / 33 0.12 16.80 3.3 35.86 4.54

All stats are accurate as of 19th June 2017 and are for the period since the 2013 World Cup unless otherwise stated. Statistics compiled with the aid of ESPNcricinfo’s Statsguru.

Defending champions and worthy favourites, Australia come into WWC17 on the back of nine consecutive series wins. Their most recent, vs New Zealand was the highest scoring 3-match series in women’s ODI history and saw captain Meg Lanning break Charlotte Edwards’ record for the most ODI career centuries.

5.01 RPO, comfortably the highest run rate since the 2013 WC is thanks to the strongest top order in women’s cricket.  The decision to move Ellyse Perry up the batting order in January 2014 was rewarded with the most successful run of scores in ODI history. Perry and Lanning are 1st & 3rd in the batting averages since the 2013 WC, with Alex Blackwell 7th.

The average Lanning/Perry partnership (96.50 runs at 5.20 RPO) is the highest since the 2013 World Cup (10+ innings). Blackwell/Perry (76.50 at 5.10) are 2nd on the list and Lanning’s partnership with opener Nicole Bolton (58.28 at 5.34) is 7th.

After just 14 innings together Lanning & Perry already rank 3rd on the list for most century partnerships. They are the only ODI pairing to have shared two double-century stands.

While Australia’s batting dominance is expected, their economy rate (4.43) may raise a few eyebrows. Australia haven’t even selected their most economical bowler since the 2013 WC. Grace Harris had an ER of 3.44 (not to mention an average of 20 and 35.34 SR) but poor batting dashed her hopes of making the WWC17 squad.

Responsibility for wicket taking rests largely on Perry and the left-arm spin of Jess Jonassen. Jonassen was the highest wicket taker (with 31) in the ICCWC, and her 50 wickets since the 2013 WC are the most by any bowler against the top 8 sides. While Perry sits 12th on that list, she hasn’t bowled her full allocation in any of her last 8 ODIs and has a career average of 49.82 in England.

Emerging from a period of transition, hosts England have won 12 of their last 15 matches since the start of 2016. Opener Tammy Beaumont is on course to be among the fastest Englishwomen to 1,000 ODI runs. So too is Natalie Sciver, women’s cricket’s first consistent run-a-ball ODI batsman.

Beaumont has the highest average (55.54) of any opener since the 2013 WC (10+ innings batted), and the 2nd highest SR (86.05). Her 342 runs against Pakistan in 2016 were the most runs ever in a 3-match ODI series.

Captain Heather Knight is one of just two women in history (along with South Africa’s Suné Luus) to take a 5-fer and score a half century in the same ODI, and was the 2nd highest wicket taker (with 29) in the ICCWC. Veteran bowlers Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn have taken a combined 125 career wickets at 20.41 in English conditions. England will also be buoyed by the return of Sarah Taylor.

Three of Australia’s seven defeats since the 2013 WC have been on their visits to England, though the most recent of those was in 2015. There are concerns that coach Mark Robinson’s revamped side are somewhat untested against top-level opposition. England’s pre-tournament fixture list may also come under scrutiny if they slip up at WWC17 – they haven’t played any official ODIs in 2017.

For the first time since 2000, New Zealand enter a World Cup with a winning record. In the lead up to WC 2013 they won just 5 of their 29 ODIs since the previous tournament. 12 losses in 20 matches after the 2013 WC suggested the former World Champions would continue to underwhelm but they followed that with a run of 17 wins in 21 matches from November 2015-January 2017.

Only Lanning has scored more runs since the 2013 WC than NZ captain Suzie Bates, and in 2016 Amy Satterthwaite scored the 3rd most runs ever in a calendar year (853). Satterthwaite continued her form into 2017 to make a record-breaking 4 centuries in a row.

New Zealand’s powerful batting line-up won’t be daunted by any total – their victory against Australia in February was the 2nd highest successful ODI chase in history.

Fast bowlers Lea Tahuhu and Holly Huddleston should thrive in English conditions and teenage legspinner Amelia Kerr will cause problems. Huddleston has the 2nd lowest SR (27.6) since the 2013 WC and Kerr has taken two 4-wicket hauls in her first seven ODIs.

NZ haven’t toured England since 2010 but several key players have participated in county cricket this season to acclimatise. The White Ferns should be confident of qualifying from the group stage but may come unstuck in pressure matches against the top teams – they’ve taken the lead in the last two Rose Bowl series vs Australia, before ceding both series 2-1.

After limping to a 7th place finish as hosts in 2013, a rejuvenated India look in their best shape to challenge for the title since they reached the final in 2005. A first win over Australia since 2009 was a landmark that set them on a 16-match winning streak between February 2016 and May 2017 – the 2nd longest winning streak in ODI history.

Evergreen Mithali Raj (who averages 60.83 at World Cups) is within touching distance of Chalotte Edwards’ ODI career runs record and begins WWC17 on a record-equaling six consecutive half centuries. Harmanpreet Kaur is the 2nd fastest Indian (after Raj) to score 1,000 ODI runs, and is the only woman to have scored more than one career century batting at #4 or lower.

Veteran quick Jhulan Goswami recently claimed the ODI career wickets record and is one of five Indians among the top eight most frugal bowlers since the 2013 WC (100+ overs bowled).  Since the start of the decade, India have collectively been the most economical visitors to England.

Five Indians also feature among the top seven in the bowling averages (20+ wickets taken). Left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht’s last 25 ODI wickets have come at an average of 12.88 and an ER of 2.73 RPO. Lively swing bowler Mansi Joshi, who debuted in February, may be India’s most effective bowler in support of Goswami in English conditions.

19 year old Deepti Sharma leads an increasingly assured contingent of younger players. Sharma has both the highest score (188) and best bowling figures (6-20) in ODIs since the 2013 World Cup. Sharma is one of five members of the Indian squad to have scored a century since the last World Cup.

South Africa  have never been better prepared to take a tilt at the title. They recorded their first ever victories against New Zealand, and first wins in 12 years over both England and India. A tie with Australia last November was the closest they’ve ever come to defeating the six-time champions.

Fast bowler Shabnim Ismail is the 2nd fastest woman to take 100 ODI wickets (her 68 innings are beaten only by Australia legend Cathryn Fitzpatrick’s 64). Ismail has the best average (17.98) and 2nd lowest ER (3.33) among pace bowlers since the 2013 WC (20+ wickets taken). Legspinning all-rounder Suné Luus has the most ODI wickets since the 2013 WC and the lowest bowling SR (26.6) during that period (20+ wickets).

Young opener Laura Wolvaardt has impressed, especially in partnership with Trisha Chetty. Wicketkeeper Chetty needs just six more victims to break the ODI career dismissals record currently held by Rebecca Rolls of NZ.

With 38 and 27 career sixes, Lizelle Lee and Chloe Tryon are respectively the 2nd and 4th most prolific six-hitters in history. Tryon’s three half-centuries make her the only woman to have made more than one half-century batting at #7 or lower since the 2013 WC.

Expectations should be tempered by the fact that South Africa have won just seven and lost 18 against other top 6 ranked opponents since the 2013 WC. Only two of those seven wins have been away from home. A loss to Bangladesh in January was a reminder that they’re still vulnerable to an embarrassing collapse.

West Indies broke the Australia/England/NZ hegemony at ICC events by winning the 2016 World T20 but the 2013 WC runners-up may struggle to repeat that success in WWC17. Appearances in the last two ICC finals and a positive record in the ICCWC matches point to an ability to perform when it counts but there’s not much to cheer in their recent record.

West Indies have only played 8 ODIs since their World T20 win in February 2016. A 3-2 series loss at home to England was followed by a 3-0 whitewash in India. Playing the majority of their cricket (29 of 39 ODIs) on the low, slow surfaces of the Caribbean, or in Asia is less than ideal preparation for a World Cup in England. West Indies haven’t toured England in any format since 2012. They’ve won just two matches away from home against other top 6 ranked opponents since the 2013 WC.

Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin continue to do much of the heavy lifting, as West Indies struggle for consistent contributions elsewhere in the batting order. In ODI cricket at least, Hayley Matthews hasn’t managed to build on her impressive 2014 tour of Australia (her 241 runs were the 3rd most series runs ever by a visiting batsman against Australia).

Taylor and Dottin are the only West Indians to average over 25 with the bat. Offspinner Anisa Mohammed and Taylor take the bulk of the wickets, followed by Dottin and Matthews.

Pakistan have twice toured England since 2013, though the chastening 2016 series in particular is probably an experience they want to forget. Wins over South Africa and West Indies mean they shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s clear the extra matches provided by the ICCWC have been of benefit.

Javeria Khan and Bismah Maroof are the 7th and 11th highest ODI run scorers since the 2013 World Cup and the only women from outside the top 6 teams to average over 30 batting against those sides during that period. Khan’s 133* vs Sri Lanka in 2015 is the 2nd highest score ever in a women’s ODI run chase.

Captain Sana Mir recently became the first Pakistani woman to take 100 ODI wickets. Left-arm spinner Anam Amin doesn’t make the squad despite topping the bowling averages since the 2013 WC (20+ wickets taken). EDIT: Anam Amin misses out due to injury.

Sri Lanka were the fairy-tale story of the 2013 World Cup. Their win over England was the highest successful chase in World Cup history but it’s hard to see them repeating their 5th place finish in WWC17. A win over West Indies in May 2015 was followed by 19 consecutive defeats.

Chances of success rest largely on the shoulders of Chamari Atapattu. Her century and six fifties since the 2013 WC compare glaringly with a combined ten half-centuries from all of her teammates.

Sri Lanka’s opening match vs New Zealand will be their first ODI in England and none of their 6 ODI wins since 2013 have been away from home. On a brighter note, former captain Shashikala Siriwardene (one of just seven women to complete the 100 wicket/1,000 run ODI double) returns after a 15 month hiatus.

Top run-scorers since 2013 World Cup

Leading wicket-takers since 2013 World Cup

Averages since 2013 World Cup

Australia : Batting / Bowling

England: BattingBowling

India: Batting / Bowling

New Zealand: Batting / Bowling

Pakistan: Batting / Bowling

South Africa: Batting / Bowling

Sri Lanka: Batting / Bowling

West Indies: Batting / Bowling

Women’s World Cup records:

Most career runs

Most runs in a single tournament

Most career centuries

Most career 50+ scores

Mot 50+ scores in a single tournament

Highest innings SR for a score of 50+ runs

Highest individual score

Most career wickets

Most wickets in a single tournament

Best bowling in an innings

Most matches played

Highest team totals

Lowest team totals

Highest successful run chases