CricViz analyst Ben Jones looks at the five standout statistics from the first week of the 2018 IPL season.
Considering the amount of research and preparation that goes into planning for an IPL match, it’s remarkable that teams can still seem so ignorant of a player’s strengths and weaknesses. A case in point was Chennai Super Kings’ approach with the ball against Andre Russell. Across his career, Russell scores at 11.42rpo against full deliveries from the seamers, and a significant amount more slowly against shorter deliveries. Most teams will try and exploit this, but CSK either chose not to or were unable to – 61% of their deliveries to Russell were in the full region. From those balls, Russell scored 65 (17), decimating the Chennai attack and almost single-handedly dragging Kolkata to a competitive score. A lesson for both Dhoni’s men, and anyone to come up against Dre Rus going forward – do your research, and don’t bowl full to Russell.
In IPL 2017, 81% of teams who won the toss opted to field first. That same year, 58% of those teams went on to win the match. Yet in each of the first seven matches in IPL 2018, the side winning the toss has chosen to field first and, when the game has been unaffected by rain, they’ve gone on to win every one of those matches. This reflects a general pattern for 2018 – the tactic is currently the most successful it’s been in a decade Some followers of the game are beginning to get nervous about the effectiveness of the tactic, and indeed it’s effectiveness, and for now it remains the first choice for IPL captains. Interestingly however, the trend of successful chasing has been boosted by some extraordinary powerplays from the side batting second. The overall powerplay run-rate has been 7.79rpo when batting first, but 9.98rpo when batting second, the chasing side unleashed with the benefit of knowing their target. Chennai’s 75-1 against Kolkata, and Kings XI’s 73-2 against Delhi standout, and if defending sides are going to have a better chance going deeper into the tournament, restricting chasers early on is going to be fundamental.
Those tuning into IPL 2018 for the pyrotechnics of modern batsmanship were not disappointed on the opening weekend. Two of the top ten fastest IPL fifties ever were scored in the opening round of the tournament, with KL Rahul’s 51 (14) and Sunil Narine’s 50 (19) getting everything off to a suitably thrilling start. In many ways, the two innings were very similar; Rahul played 88% attacking shots, with 25% of them being false shots, whilst Narine played 80% attacking shots, but also with 25% false shots. However, there is a clear difference between the two in terms of scoring areas.
Rahul scored 47% of his runs behind square, and as you can see from the graphic above, was prolific all round the wicket, the Indian opener’s more sophisticated style giving him a wider range of options. By contrast, Narine didn’t score a single run behind the wicket.
This doesn’t hold the West Indian back; Narine is a relatively one-dimensional batsman, but that one dimension has propelled him to being one of the world’s leading T20 openers, and stopping him is a key question for anyone facing up against KKR. However, the point remains that no matter how successful Narine gets, his status as a pinch-hitter, with an effective but limited range of strokes, will always persist.
Much was made before the tournament began of the absence of David Warner for Sunrisers. Alex Hales flew half the way around the world to try and plug the gap, but it could well be that in-house improvement is the real answer for SRH at the top of the innings. Since the start of this year, Shikhar Dhawan has made vast improvements to his attacking game, averaging 46.75 when playing the more expansive shots – the highest he’s ever averaged when doing so. This year the Indian has also been scoring at 10.84rpo when attacking, the second fastest scoring rate he’s managed across his career, and the fastest since 2013. Warner has traditionally been tasked with getting his team off to a fast start, allowing his teammates to make a more sedate start, but it could be that he’s not missed to the degree many thought. Dhawan has always been a crucial cog in the Sunrisers top order, but his own personal evolution in style could well have come at a crucial time for Tom Moody’s team.
What goes around, comes around, that’s what they say. Yet so far this season, RCB’s Chris Woakes is both the luckiest player and the unluckiest player in the competition. The average for the tournament so far is for 9.1% of deliveries to be missed by the batsmen – yet with ball in hand, Woakes has beaten the bat with 27% of his deliveries, in particular causing Chris Lynn significant difficulty. 3 wickets was reasonable reward for bamboozling batsmen with such regularity, but in many ways he was still unlucky, and that lack of fortune repaid itself when he picked up the bat. Nobody in the competition so far (min 5 runs) has missed a higher percentage of their balls faced than Woakes, the England man unable to lay a bat on 40% of his deliveries so far. Whilst those of you who enjoy seeing the ball disappear to all parts might be advised to watch Rahul, Narine and Russell, if you like seeing the ball whizz past the bat, keep an eye on Woakes – whether he’s got the ball or bat in hand.
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz. @benjones_13