ANALYSING THE LEADING IPL WICKET-TAKERS

Utilising CricViz’s hawkeye data archive Freddie Wilde has analysed in detail the five leading wicket-takers in this season’s Indian Premier League by examining their variations, lengths and lines. 

After 41 matches of the season the five leading wicket-takers are all seam bowlers: Mitchell McClenaghan (Mumbai Indians), Bhuveneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders), Shane Watson (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Mustafizur Rahman (Sunrisers Hyderabad).

Delivery-Type Analysis

PlayerNo MovementOff CutterSlower BallAway Swinger In Swinger Leg Cutter
Bhuveneshwar60%8%1%20%10%1%
McClenaghan86%11%2%1%0%0%
Russell87%11%1%1%0%0%
Mustafizur53%46%0%0%1%0%
Watson80%14%1%0%2%3%

For all five of the bowlers the majority of their deliveries are conventional. Mustafizur and Bhuveneshwar bowl the largest share of variations with Mustafizur bowling a very high percentage of off-cutters and Bhuveneshwar favouring swing—largely away from the batsman. Watson, Russell and McClenaghan have all utilised the off-cutter as their primary variation but have bowled them more sparingly.

PlayerNo Movement AverageOff Cutter AverageSlower Ball AverageAway Swinger AverageIn Swinger AverageLeg Cutter Average
Bhuveneshwar49.7510.00NA5.209.50NA
McClenaghan21.0039.00NANANANA
Mustafizur19.8314.85NANANANA
Russell15.6137.00NANANANA
Watson31.876.25NANA2.0014.00

Bhuveneshwar, Mustafizur and Watson stand out as the bowlers who use variations most effectively. While Russell maintains a low average from conventional deliveries. Bhuveneshwar’s strength is clearly his ability to swing the ball both in and away from the batsman – he has taken five wickets with away swingers and two with in-swingers. Mustafizur’s off-cutter average is higher than Bhuveneshwar’s and Watson’s but it has brought him most success earning him seven wickets at an economy rate of 5.88 and is the only delivery type, length or line to average less than 15 having been bowled at least 100 times. Watson’s off-cutter has also been effective giving him four wickets from 31 deliveries at an economy rate of 4.83. McClenaghan’s high averages for no movement deliveries and off-cutters is a reflection of his profligacy – he has been the most expensive of the five leading wicket-takers – rather than the deliveries themselves.

Length Analysis

PlayerFull TossYorkerHalf VolleyGood Length Back of a LengthShort
Bhuveneshwar9%6%6%52%21%6%
McClenaghan6%6%6%27%30%25%
Mustafizur14%15%17%41%11%2%
Russell7%6%9%33%26%19%
Watson8%6%14%38%18%16%

Mustafizur has the highest share of full tosses and half volleys and that is most probably a result of his consistent attempt to land his yorker, of which he also boasts the highest percentage share. Bhuveneshwar, who, as illustrated above, is often looking to swing the ball, unsurprisingly the highest share of deliveries bowled on a traditional good length. Impressively Bhuveneshwar rarely over-pitches when looking for swing having bowled just 6% of his deliveries as half volleys. McClenaghan, Russell and Watson, all less reliant on movement in the air and off the pitch, clearly favour bowling shorter than Bhuvenshwar and Mustafizur. More than half of McClenaghan’s deliveries are back of a length or shorter, while the figure for Russell and Watson is 45% and 34% respectively.

PlayerFull Toss AverageYorker AverageHalf Volley AverageGood Length AverageBack of a Length AverageShort Average
BhuveneshwarNA10.0030.0012.7023.00NA
McClenaghan8.005.00NA102.0013.4023.80
Mustafizur41.0022.0018.6614.009.00NA
Russell12.50NA17.5014.33NA9.50
WatsonNA13.0021.0026.0030.009.60

Given McClenaghan’s consistently short length the yorker clearly works as a successful surprise ball. He has conceded just ten runs from the 15 he has bowled and collected two wickets. Bhuveneshwar and Watson have both recorded similar figures from their yorkers, having bowled 14 and 15 deliveries respectively taking one and two wickets. Mustafizur has landed the most yorkers of the five, having successfully bowled 35 of them, taking the one wicket. As expected given his ability to swing the ball both ways Bhuveneshwar has the lowest average from deliveries bowled on a good length. Mustafizur’s good length has earned him three wickets from his 39 deliveries with such a length being ideal for his off cutters.  McClenaghan, who has bowled more deliveries back of a length than any other, has the best average from balls pitched there and has taken five wickets; he has, however, only taken one wicket when he over-pitches to a good length. Both Russell and Watson have been very successful bowling short – taking five and four wickets respectively, Watson, however, has a considerably lower economy rate from such a length. McClenaghan has taken five wickets from a short length but has conceded a boundary percentage of 27%.

The status of the yorker as the most effective delivery is reaffirmed by the statistics of the five bowlers with all of them recording economy rates of less than 5.21 from the delivery.

Line Analysis

PlayerWideOutside Off StumpOff StumpMiddle StumpLeg StumpDown Leg
Bhuveneshwar1%66%8%6%8%11%
McClenaghan0%65%3%5%8%19%
Mustafizur0%35%7%11%11%36%
Russell0%61%12%7%10%10%
Watson3%63%8%5%8%13%

Bhuveneshwar, McClenaghan, Russell and Watson all land more than 60% of their deliveries outside off stump – a traditional good line to bowl. Mustafizur, the most unorthodox of the five bowlers pitches as many balls down leg as he does outside off stump – this can largely be explained by his angle coming over the wicket to right-handers and angling the ball across them. Mustafizur and Watson both pitch 29% of their deliveries on the stumps, forcing the batsman to play.

PlayerWide AverageOutside Off AverageOff Stump AverageMiddle Stump Average Leg Stump AverageDown Leg Average
Bhuveneshwar0.0022.8523.00NA5.8042.00
McClenaghanNA21.10NA27.009.0069.00
MustafizurNA20.50NA17.0012.0013.40
RussellNA22.0046.009.503.7518.00
WatsonNA19.30NA10.0024.0022.50

Mustafizur and Russell are both conspicuously successful from balls pitched on leg stump and down leg. Russell has taken five wickets from the 40 deliveries he has bowled there while Mustafizur has taken seven from 108 balls bowled on those lines at an economy rate of just 4.84. Watson’s controlled line outside off stump has earned him ten wickets at the best average of the five.

Headline Statistics

  • Mustafizur has taken seven wickets from 108 balls that have pitched on leg stump & down leg at an economy rate of just 4.84.
  • Watson has bowled 39 short deliveries this season & has taken 5-48 with a dot ball percentage of 44% from them.
  • Bhuveneshwar has got 30% of his deliveries to swing this season and has an average of 6.42 from them.
  • 55% of McClenaghan’s deliveries have been back of a length or shorter and they have earned him 10 of his 15 wickets.
  • Russell’s 38 short balls have conceded 22 runs this season with a dot ball percentage of 58%.

Freddie Wilde is a freelance cricket journalist, @fwildecricket. 

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