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IPL 2020: Trends from the season

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IPL 2020 Trends

After 60 matches across three venues and a dominating win from the best team, we take a look at some of the trends from an exhilarating IPL 2020 season. 

The Toss – How vital was it?

Winning the toss didn’t directly impact the result in a positive way this season, at least overall. Only 25 times the team that called right at the toss ended up on the winning side, which was way less than the corresponding numbers for 2018 (32) and 2019 (36).

Upon breaking the season down, clear patterns emerge. In the first 30 matches of the season, the record of teams batting first was 23 wins and 7 losses. During the latter half of the season, the trend completely reversed, and teams batting first won only 7 matches in the second half, and lost 23.

In the first quarter of the season, 80% of the toss-winners elected to chase, but 73% of the matches were won by the team defending targets. Team managements and captains made the switch accordingly, and in the second quarter, 80% of toss-winners chased and 80% of the matches were won by chasing teams as well.

Things changed in the third quarter. While most of the captains still opted to bat first, the conditions started favoring chasing sides more. 67% of the captains batted first, but the chasing team won 80% of the matches in this period. Catching on, chasing became the favorable decision at the toss in the final fifteen matches. 87% of the toss-winners chased and Shreyas Iyer was the only captain who chose to bat first, both occasions coming in the last two matches of the season.

Emergence of Overseas Pacers

One reason for the success of Mumbai Indians – now five-time IPL champions – has been their pace attack, more so their usage of two overseas quicks. Be it Malinga-Johnson, Malinga-McClenaghan, Malinga-Behrendorff or Boult-Pattinson and Boult-Coulter-Nile this season, they have used two of their overseas slots to strengthen their pace attack since their first title-winning campaign in 2013.

This season more teams have tried to emulate the tactic that has brought so much success to Mumbai Indians. DC played Rabada and Nortje for all but one of their matches and even went as far as a triple overseas-pace attack when they included Daniel Sams. RCB played Morris and Udana for a significant part of the season, while KKR too tried Cummins and Ferguson together for a few matches.

In the last five seasons, this is the first time overseas pacers have delivered more than half of the legal balls bowled in a season. Not to mention they also accounted for 56% of the wickets as well, which is no small feat.

The Importance of a Left-Right pair

Managements have caught on to the fact that a left-right pair batting together results in more favorable match-ups for the batting team. One such example was during the KXIP vs RCB match when Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube were promoted ahead of AB de Villiers.

RCB had done so because as left-handers, they had the upper-hand against the KXIP leg-spinners Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi. Furthermore, short boundaries at Sharjah meant that even mishots might end up going the distance. It was met with KXIP skipper KL Rahul bowling out the offie Glenn Maxwell to counter the LHBs, but the fact that RCB held back a player of de Villiers’ calibre itself is testament to the value of a left-right batting pair.

The percentage of balls faced by left-right pairs this season is 56.4% – the highest of any season so far. The second-highest ratio was in 2011, almost a decade ago. The batting team’s run-rate, as expected, is higher when a left-right pair bats, more so when spinners bowl.

Team Run-Rate in IPL 2020 against Spin:
RHB-LHB: 7.78
LHB-LHB: 7.50
RHB-RHB: 7.42

More cautious against the New Ball

An interesting feature of the IPL this season was how batting teams preferred to take a more restricted approach in the Powerplay. The run-rate in the first six overs this season was the lowest in the last four seasons by a considerable margin. Since 2014, the only season with a lower run-rate was 2016, ever so slightly less than this season.

Openers, who naturally face most deliveries in the Powerplay, have been much slower as well despite averaging approximately the same as previous seasons (barring 2019). Considering the average has neither increased (to show more conservative play) nor decreased (to indicate conditions have been tougher), the question must be asked, “Is it a matter of ability or intent?”

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