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Sankar: The Three-Way Lefty Tussle That Should End with Krunal Pandya

Rohit Sankar | Updated: November 19, 2018, 4:09 PM IST
Sankar: The Three-Way Lefty Tussle That Should End with Krunal Pandya

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There is little to dislike about Krunal Pandya. Fiery, passionate and fearless, the elder Pandya brother, much like his more celebrated younger brother, is an IPL product with a natural penchant for the bigger stage. As much was on display in his debut series where an engaging battle between him and Kieron Pollard, his Mumbai Indians teammate, enthralled the fans.

Krunal’s call-up to the T20I squad was perhaps long overdue. He had put in compelling performances in the IPL for Mumbai Indians including a breathtaking onslaught that won him the Man of the Match award in the IPL 2017 finals against Sunrisers Hyderabad. But India had Ravindra Jadeja followed by Axar Patel in the pecking order and Krunal wasn’t deemed ready to jump the queue.

After three seasons of impressive showing, Krunal is in the Indian T20I side and on early evidence has taken to international cricket like fish to water. In a way, his performance hasn’t surprised many for he was always deemed better than Jadeja and Axar in this format of the game.

Here we conduct a deeper comparison of the three lefties with respect to their batting and bowling in T20s. The overall numbers and IPL numbers are separated for a clearer picture.

In each of the tables that you will come across from here, green represents the best value while red the worst.

Jadeja has way more experience than Krunal and Axar and has picked up 135 wickets in his T20 career but hasn’t been as effective as the other two in terms of strike rate and economy, a major drawback which eventually led to his ouster from the format. Krunal, on the other hand, has an impressive overall record where he strikes quicker than the other two and bowls much stingier lines as evident from an economy of under seven.

bowl basic

In the IPL, though, Krunal plays for Mumbai Indians which have a plethora of bowling options while Jadeja and Axar are among the main strike bowlers in their respective IPL sides. This has affected Krunal’s numbers for Mumbai Indians but that is not to state he has been poor. He still has the best economy of the three bowlers and strikes at an almost similar rate.

bowl ipl

Cut down to effectiveness of each of the three - which we will be measuring in three ways – and Krunal once again betters the two. The three factors for which players would be judged include:

Wickets/ four overs – This measures wickets taken on an average over every four overs (more the better).
Innings/ zero wickets – This measures the rough number of innings’ taken for the bowler to go wicket-less (the more the better).
Innings/ 3-plus wickets – This measures the rough number of innings’ taken for the bowler to take three-plus wickets in an innings (the lower the better).

Krunal, on an average, takes 1.11 wickets every four overs on an overall basis with the number dropping to 1.00 in the IPL, where there is very little to separate the three.

bowl complex

While him going wicket-less in the IPL could once again be a result of bowling lesser number of overs in an innings as against that of Jadeja and Axar, Krunal does well above the duo when it comes to making impact performances with the ball, evident from his rate of picking three-plus wicket hauls – every 11th innings overall and every 12th innings roughly in the IPL. The corresponding numbers for Jadeja and Axar are starkly different.

bowl advanced ipl

One reason for preferring an all-round option as a spinner in the Indian T20I side is the gigantic presence of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. This makes batting an important aspect of the three left-handed all-rounders. It is here that Krunal sweeps the two off their perch and stamps his presence as the unanimous choice.

Krunal’s ability to bat anywhere and play match-situations make him the most stable batsman of the three players. He averages 29.03 in his T20 career and has a rip-roaring strike rate of 150.16, much higher than that of either Axar or Jadeja.

bat

He makes a 30-plus score every 4th innings on an average, two lower than Axar and five lower than Jadeja. He is also a frenetic hitter of the ball in this formats and scores a boundary every fifth ball on an average, again much better than the established duo.

bat ipl

His numbers become all the more spectacular when cutting down to just the IPL, a clear sign that he has it in him to step up against quality bowling attacks. In the IPL, Krunal tends to score faster, averages better and scores a boundary sooner than what he does on an overall basis.

After a fine debut series, Krunal will travel with the T20I side to Australia where his accuracy and wicket-taking ability will be put to test. With a full-strength side available, the management might want to identify a role for Krunal the batsman. He is quick to get off the blocks, exemplified by a strike rate of nearly 150 off the first 10 balls he faces (in the IPL), making him a potential candidate for the final flourish in the death overs.

His ability to remain calm under pressure and stay undaunted by the opposition and crowd make him a perfect fit in the current Indian line-up. His all-round credentials were never in question – he is among the only five players to take 25 wickets and 500-plus runs in the IPL since his debut – and at 27 years of age, he has the world to conquer.

PS: Stats as of November 3rd, 2018 (before Krunal’s T20I debut).
First Published: November 19, 2018, 11:48 AM IST
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