CricViz analyst Ben Jones looks at the standout statistics from the fourth week of the 2018 IPL season.
Considering how long MS Dhoni has been affiliated with the Chennai Super Kings, it’s not surprising that some of his most distinctive cricketing traits are starting to be reflected in the style of the team itself. Much like their revered skipper, CSK are absolutely bossing the death overs with the bat. As a team, they have scored at slightly above the tournament average in both the Powerplay and the Middle Overs, but it’s at the death where they really kick into gear. They score more than 1rpo faster than the next best team in those crucial final overs, allowing them to take the game deep knowing they can recover – remind you of anyone?
Furthermore, one enjoyable element of this IPL has been the sense of different strategies being in play, and lo-and-behold, that comes to the fore most notably in those vital last few overs. Chennai may score the fastest at the death, but fellow table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad score the slowest, almost 5rpo slower than Dhoni’s team.The 4.37rpo difference may indicate a difference in strategy, but both teams have had considerably success already this year, showing yet again that despite what the critics of the shortest format may suggest, there is more than one way to win a T20 contest.
21% v 2%
It’s been a tough year for Chris Lynn. A shoulder injury limited his preparation for this year’s IPL, and even now he’s recovered it seems to be limiting his range of shots. Regardless, the Australian has maintained his reputation as an intelligent T20 player, by adapting the weakest part of his game – facing spin. In particular, he’s transformed his use of the sweep shot. In his entire T20 career before this IPL, Lynn had played 13 sweep shots against spin, scoring at just a touch over 7rpo. This season, he’s already played 19 sweeps when facing spin, a remarkable 21% of his overall shots in the competition. The leap from just 2% across his career could barely be more pronounced. A scoring rate of 7.26rpo with the shot shows that it’s not necessarily the most destructive shot in Lynn’s armoury, but it’s indicative of a wider change in the Kolkata batsman’s approach to slow bowling. In the first five years of his career, he averaged 21.33 against spin, dismissed every 18.9 deliveries; since the start of 2016, a more cautious approach has seen him average 45.15, dismissed every 40 deliveries. Despite the caricature of Lynn as a destructive slogger, he possesses and understanding of his own game, and of how to improve it, which puts many players to shame.
It’s been a turbulent 12 months for Ben Stokes. Last year, the England all-rounder was the winner of the competition’s MVP award, and was central to the performance of Rising Pune Supergiant. After That Night In Bristol, his progress has stalled slightly, and he’s not been able to to quite hit the heights of last year.His Average Batting Impact in the 2017 IPL was 3.5, and his Average Bowling Impact was 1.6, both extremely good and even more so in conjunction. This year, it’s dropped to -1.2 and -5.3. So why has the Rajasthan man had such a tough tournament? Well, with the bat at least you can see the area he’s struggling with most. He seems to have found it difficult to get his power game going, scoring fewer runs in-front of square on the legside, and as you can see from the graphic below, scoring at a slower rate through that region. Stokes is a world-class all-rounder and will recover from this slight dip in form – but it might not be in time to get Rajasthan through to the knockouts.
If you’ve been watching the IPL this season and thinking that it’s more batting dominated that usual, then good news – there are numbers to support your inkling. The current run-rate in this year’s IPL is the fastest ever, and by a substantial margin.
Frustratingly for the traditionalists, that increase hasn’t just come through field manipulation and hard running. No, this year has seen a higher proportion of deliveries hit to (or over) the boundary rope than ever before.
For fans of power and batting-based spectacles, this season is unprecedented in how much entertainment it’s provided. Most fans would say this year has been extraordinary fun, but if the trend of ever increasing run-rates and boundary-rates continues, then cricket may have a problem on its hands.
The death overs of a T20 match are where the game is quite literally won and lost, but in many ways the beginning of the innings is more significant. Fielding restrictions should mean fluent strokemaking is easier, and fast-scoring is more possible. Yet this isn’t always the case, as we’ve seen so far this season. Of those players to have opened twice in the competition so far, only three batsman have scored at over 10rpo in the powerplay overs. The usual suspects KL Rahul and Sunil Narine are joined by the youngster Prithvi Shaw.
India’s batting stocks are pretty well filled at the moment (for the next 10 years, in all likelihood), but Prithvi is making quite the impression on this year’s competition. In a struggling Delhi team, he’s managed to look both composed at the crease and effective on the scoreboard, as we can see with his performances in the powerplay. The young man is yet to celebrate his nineteenth birthday, and has a lot of room to improve, but he’s keeping good company in Narine and Rahul – if we are still making that comparison in two years time, India will have a superstar on their hands.
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz. @benjonescricket