Nicholas Pooran's duck strike rate

Three ducks, nine runs and 12 balls.

A few days ago I put up a tweet about Nicholas Pooran's extraordinary record.

It is a remarkably shit run; his longest innings is a nine from eight balls in four knocks.

That was by far his worst innings all things considered. Although that late innings basher spot isn't his bag any more. The last few years he's been a middle overs guy. He came out with 22 balls left and had to whack it, and he got one boundary away. It's not a hanging offence being that he was out of position, but it's by far his poorest knock. He got in, made a large negative impact to the game, and then was gone.

His worst dismissal was probably his second-ball duck against CSK. If only because he played the hook in an already dicey situation. Now Deepak Chahar isn't that quick, and he probably saw it as a gimme ball. But it's also possible it was part of a plan that Dwayne Bravo - Pooran's Trinidadian mentor - came up with. I don't think three wickets into the powerplay you need to smash your first ball for six.

But, that is what Pooran was hired to do. He is in the IPL because he plays the game at his pace, and that is super fast. He was successful in domestic cricket; it's why Punjab hired him, and his first two years in the IPL he had strike rates of 157 and 169. I've been following him closely for about 3 and a half years, and on and off before then. If you want the 160 strike rate, it comes with hooking second ball of a broken powerplay.

But how different was that from what Andre Russell did for Kolkata versus CSK. Chahar took early wickets again, KKR were gone, and Russell played like Russell does, and they almost stole that game. Pooran is a different player than Russell, more skills-based and less power, but they're also very similar. They both go very hard to change match-ups and kill the middle overs. Russell is a counter-attacking hero, Pooran is out. The opposite has happened to both of them before.

What about his first innings, a second ball duck? With 13 balls to go, Morris bowled a rank short slower ball down the legside. It was filthy, and Pooran tried to slap it past short fine leg for a boundary. He didn't get enough of it and Sakariya took a quality catch at short fine leg. It's a terrible ball, deep into the death - Pooran is again out of position - but he goes for it and misses an easy boundary by a couple of inches.

The latest innings was his run out. This was the first time Pooran had come in at four, the spot that everyone assumed he would take up,. He wasn't in for a hilarious powerplay or the slog overs; this was his spot. If you bat with Gayle, one thing you know is that he isn't about to steal many singles unless he is in form and wants the strike or has a matchup that isn't for him. Gayle has made a lot of money smashing guys like Vijay Shankar everywhere.

But for whatever reason he decided that a single was what he wanted, and he pushed a run. It wasn't a bad call from him; there was probably a run in it. But Pooran wasn't expecting it, didn't want it, and also didn't just say no.

Pooran is not blameless in most of these cases - the Morris one is about the only one where it's complete nonsense to suggest he did much wrong. Two of these came in the death, one was a surprise single by a non-runner, and another was a counter-attack that went wrong.

When you make three matching ducks, people notice it.

And the reactions from fans has just been so over the top. From the obvious, "he's out of form'. If you can tell someone is out of form from 11 balls, you are a genius and should be spending your time on more than thinking about middle-order T20 players.

And the other part is that many believe he was never that good anyway.

It reminds me of KL Rahul; four low scores and he had to go.

Pooran isn't some kid being picked from a windball tournament in Trinidad and given an IPL contract. He has been around this league since the Mumbai Indians chose him in the 2017 auction. He's also played BBL, BPL, Blast and PSL. And he made his West Indies debut in 2016. He played one of the best innings in the World Cup against Sri Lanka, and was certainly in the best few batters of that tournament. In the IPL his first season he averaged 28 and struck at 157. Last year it was 35 and 169. We know he's not some accidental T20 cricketer picked when he did well in an ODI against India or made some runs one big bash season.

And yet, his three ducks and other failure suddenly mean all that isn't a factor any more.

Being a T20 middle-order player means you have long periods when you don't face many balls and make even fewer runs when you do. If you want to consistently score runs, bat in the top three. Every other spot has its own randomness and problem solving attached with most innings.

(Here is a podcast I just made with Brad Hodge about this)

Pooran has actually been very consistent and has a good average for someone who has often batted at five for Punjab. His overall numbers are averaging 30 while scoring at 10 runs per over.

Yes, 10. While he is in the middle, he is almost two runs an over better than KL Rahul.

There is a better player to compare him with. Chris Gayle, who at the same time has averaged 31, but is scoring less than eight runs an over.

To score at the rate of Pooran and average 30 is incredible. And that includes all those ducks of course.

But scoring consistently in T20 cricket isn't really a straightforward thing. And players are going to have wild fluctuations. Anything under a 20 game season you could have anything going on. Look at Dawid Malan, also on the Punjab Kings roster whose name is mentioned as a replacement for Pooran. In 24 T20Is he's rocking around with a 50/144 split. But in the last Big Bash, where an excellent player of pace like him should dominate, he went at 25/110 in ten games. And Malan is a top-order player.

This Punjab roster is a mess. Jhye Richardson has been batting at seven, Gayle is batting first drop and Moises Henriques had to bowl for them the other night. Pooran is not the reason they are terrible, even if his run is certainly not helping them right now.

Pooran's style should have far more highs and lows. Last year we saw the highs, so far this year, he's had four lows in 11 balls. Say what you will about him; his strike rate is always breathtaking.