# Games and numbers

## Looking at his report card, Arun concluded that math as not his subject. And anyway, he wanted to be a sports journalist, so why did it matter?

Arun’s class teacher had told his parents that Arun could score a better overall grade if he got more marks in Mathematics.

“I can’t help it if I make mistakes!” protested Arun. “Mathematics is not my favourite subject!”

His father told him mathematics would be of help to him in his daily life.

“I want to be a sports journalist,” argued Arun. “I need language skills and not an A+ in mathematics!”

That evening, Arun and Suresh watched the ODI match on TV. His father had come home early and was reading a business magazine.

“One over left,” said Suresh, sadly. “India still needs 15 runs to win.”

“India will win if Dhoni and Yadav manage to score one six and three fours; or one six, two fours and a single run; or two sixes and a four or three fours and a six; or one six, two runs from each of the next three balls and then score a four or a six and two runs from the next five balls; or get those 15 runs with any combo of 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 in the over!” said Arun.

India made 14 runs. For the boys, a draw was better than losing the match!

“What is Dhoni’s batting average in this series?” asked Suresh.

“Wait,” said Arun. “I’ll calculate.”

Casual calculations

His father was amazed. His son, a cricket pro, was not aware he was doing cricket mathematics.

“Arun!” said his father. “You gave permutations and combinations for Dhoni to win the match and you are now calculating Dhoni’s batting average. The Duck Lewis Stern (DLS) method recalculates runs if time is lost in a match. Son, cricket uses mathematics!”

“I never thought of that!” said Arun.

“The curved path a spinning ball takes depends on the type of spin and the force exerted by air,” said his father. “Field placement depends on the captain’s assessment of the ball’s speed and trajectory when it leaves the bowler’s hand, and on who is the batter hitting it! Bar graphs and worm graphs are used to compare players and teams’ performance. We calculate over rate, NRR, bowling speed, probability of a team winning a match, batting strike rate, most dismissals by a wicket keeper and other cricket data. Modern gadgets make calculations easy, but one has to know the mathematical rules of how to do it!”

“You want to be an English sports journalist,” said his mother, who had brought in tea for all of them. “Correct use of words is as important as statistical facts.”

Arun became aware of the fact that shapes, size, speed, ratios, percentages, volume, averages, areas, weights and so on are terms we encounter in our daily life. He cannot run away from mathematics.

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