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India have most ODI tons, also highest number of centurions to fall at 100 and 101

WorldCup2015 Updated: Mar 11, 2015 20:32 IST
Kaushik Chatterji
Kaushik Chatterji
Hindustan Times

Statistics are like bikinis, they hide more than what they reveal. That's what Sidhu said. No, not our guy who was abused by Virat Kohli because he thought he looked like another guy - the other guy.

Anyway, let's pluck the Sherry on top, and put Navjot Sidhu's theory to the test by applying it to ODI centuries.

A cursory glance at the numbers, and there's plenty of reason to go Jai Ho. Shikhar Dhawan's ton against Ireland in Hamilton was the 227th by an India batsman.

In fact, India are the only team whose batsmen have scored more than 200 ODI hundreds - with 187, Australia are a distant second.

Only one of those 227 hundreds is by Sunil Gavaskar.

Sunny's only ODI ton came in the 1987 World Cup, in what was his penultimate match.

By the time he reached 103, hosts India had already gone past the Black Caps' total. Little wonder then that the Little Master, mic in hand on Tuesday, kept imploring Shikhar to play safe and ensure he got his hundred. "He can experiment with his shots after he has reached the three-figure mark," he said on the idiot box.

Shikhar obliged. He cantered to 31 off 37, smashed 65 off the next 37, took another 10 deliveries to score the remaining four runs and then fell trying to hit it down to South Island.

For anyone who has watched India bat or scratched the surface of statistics, Shikhar's fall came as no surprise. Batsmen the world over try to make up for the time wasted in the nervous nineties, only to fail miserably. Indians, simply put, fail better.

With 21 scores of 100 or 101, India's batsmen are way ahead of Australia (14). But it's when one analyses individual scores of exactly 100 that the Indian batsman's, well, enthusiasm for personal milestones really comes to the fore.

A total of 13 hundreds have ended exactly at, well, a 100, same as Australia (6), Pakistan (4) and West Indies (3) combined!

So much for absolute figures - now for the theory of relativity.

The number of 100s and 101s is nearly 15% of 143 completed innings (the centurion got out), well clear of the competition, which in this case is South Africa (13.3%) and Pakistan (13%).

As for scores of exactly 100, it's 9.1% of all completed 100+ innings - again, miles ahead of the rest, and twice more than Pakistan (4%).

Tuesday wasn't Dhawan's first '100'. With two such scores, he shares the third spot with David Boon and Jacques Kallis. With three, Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene is the sole runner-up. But the clear winner - and if you are one of those Indians for whom cricket is a religion, then better close this window/tab lest you want to risk reading the name of your god - is Sachin Tendulkar, with four.

Even when one includes scores of 101, the top two remain unchanged: Jayawardene second with four, and Tendulkar the undisputed king of touching milestones with six.

Doesn't matter, right, as long as the team wins? Well, India lost four of the six matches in which Tendulkar fell for 100 or 101. Overall, the Men in Blue have won only 11 of the 21 matches in which they had a BBC (BareBones Centurion).

Three of them against lightweights: Hong Kong, Bangladesh and, on Tuesday, Ireland; another was augmented by another, bigger century.

Is the batsman trying to play himself back into form? Sometimes, not always. Two of Ricky Ponting's smallest centuries came after gaps of 22 months (19 ODIs) and 15 months (24 ODIs).

Two of Tendulkar's three slowest centuries have been 101s. While one came after a gap of 13 ODIs and seven months, Tendulkar had scored a ton just two matches and three months before the other. The third was the (in)famous 100th hundred that came after a year-long wait, a wasted effort that saw India lose to Bangladesh and crash out of the 2012 Asia Cup.

So what does this prove? Like that survey undertaken by some Australian University about "nervous nineties" not being a myth (seriously, who sanctions these studies?), nothing. Are Indians milestone men or glory hunters? Frankly my dear, you don't give a damn. Neither do I. Mera Bharat Mahan. Greenpeace out!

(Views expressed by the writer are personal)