Who were the power-players of IPL 2018’s league phase?

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Here are stats that show how each team has either made or marred their chances during the first six overs of their matches this season.

In Moto GP, to start well is to hit the very first turn leading the pack of adrenaline-driven riders. More often than not, the first lap goes on to define the whole race. The little strip till the first bend could make or break the rest of the race for a rider. Analogous to this characteristic of the Grand Prix, the powerplay overs in T20 cricket too hold the golden key that opens the door into a vast garden of opportunities. It could make or break teams. And in a league like the Indian Premier League (IPL), consistently nailing the six biggest overs of a T20 over is a trait of the seasoned side.

With the league phase of the IPL done and dusted, there is enough evidence to suggest that the power players of the powerplay still hold the trump card for their respective teams. A mere glance at the average runs conceded in the powerplay overs show us why Delhi Daredevils were the first team to be eliminated in the season or why Sunrisers Hyderabad were the first to qualify.

(Disclaimer: Stats updated as of 18 May, 2018 after RCB – SRH game)

Compared to the 50.83 runs they make on an average in the first six overs, Delhi concede a shocking 59 runs when bowling. In fact, in three out of their first 12 games, Delhi gave away more than 70 runs in the powerplay overs on as many as three occasions. At the same time, they scored fewer than 40 runs in the powerplay overs on two occasions.

A team like Sunrisers Hyderabad sits atop the league standings owing to their sheer dominance with the ball. In the powerplay overs, they have managed to score, on an average, only 46.23 runs (the worst for any team) but have conceded only 45.08 runs, which makes them the best bowling team economy-wise, a factor which perhaps helped them qualify way early.

 

 

The only two teams to have conceded more runs than they have scored in the powerplays is Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils. The duo are also two of three teams to lose more wickets than they take in these overs.

 

Some numbers, though, tell different stories. Royal Challengers Bangalore has copped a fair bit of criticism for their lacklustre bowling but the powerplays tell a different story, as is evident from the graph. With Umesh Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal spearheading them, RCB have been the most successful of teams with the ball wickets-wise. Their rate of conceding runs in these overs is also among the top four.

The batting deck

Prithvi Shaw has been the lone warrior for the Daredevils in the powerplay, making significant contributions to the team in the early stage of the innings. But it still puts the team way behind Rajasthan Royals, who have been rather sloppy themselves. Their major batting contributions have come from Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane, although the latter’s strike rate of 124.64 makes him one of the slowest in these overs.

Buttler, though, has more than made up for that with a brilliant strike rate of 195 in the powerplay overs. His promotion to the top has witnessed the Royals effect a massive turnaround in their fortunes with the bat in the powerplays. From scoring less than 50 in five of the first seven games, Rajasthan racked up four 50-plus scores (three of them above 60) in the next five, courtesy Buttler who has made 66, 29, 45, 18 and 36 in the powerplay overs.

 

 

 

The only batsman who comes even slightly close to matching Buttler’s strike rate in these overs of complete hysteria is Sunil Narine. The bowler-turned-all-rounder has scored at a rate of 190.59, amassing 223 runs in the powerplays. It puts him around the median among the best run-scorers in the powerplay overs this IPL, but in terms of strike rate, Buttler and Narine are head and shoulders above the rest.

The best player in the powerplay, statistically, has undoubtedly been KL Rahul, who has made a stupendous 357 runs in the first six overs alone this season. To put things in perspective, that is more than what many others, including the likes of Suresh Raina, Ben Stokes, and Rohit Sharma, have made overall.

What makes Rahul the quintessential powerplay batsman is the fact that he piles his runs on at a frenetic rate of 162.27. Only one player, aside from Rahul, has managed 200-plus runs at a rate of 150 or above — Sunil Narine — but Rahul has managed to remain consistent with run-scoring while making sure they come at a pretty good rate.

 

 

Chris Gayle usually hogs the powerplays, but even he falls behind Rahul by a fairly big margin. Gayle’s modus operandi has been to get settled in and then attack. Striking at a rate of 145.33, he has yet been outpaced in the powerplay by two Indian players — Ambati Rayudu and Prithvi Shaw, something unfathomable two seasons ago. While Rayudu has been assisted by Watson, the same cannot be said for Shaw, the sole semblance of a partnership for whom has come from Rishabh Pant, who bats at no.4.

Suryakumar Yadav’s promotion to the top order has changed Mumbai Indians’ season, as the uncapped Indian player has made the most of it. He has racked up a herculean 276 runs at a rate of nearly 140 in the first six overs of the innings. Aiding him is Evin Lewis, who began with scores of 29 (17), 37 (16) and 37 (24) in the powerplay, but struggled to maintain that kind of form as the inningses wore on.

 

Virat Kohli, consistent as ever, has been equally effective in the powerplays, with none of the other RCB batsmen able to make merry in these overs. Kohli’s 243 runs have come at an exemplary rate of 144.64 but it is his very low dot-ball percentage of 33.33 that is more salient. It clearly shows that you need not be a frequent boundary-hitter to make big runs at a good rate.

Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson have been the best for Sunrisers Hyderabad but neither has done enough to warrant a place among the top 10 best powerplay batsmen of the season.

The bowlers who turned it around

“Batsmen win you games, bowlers win you tournaments,” former Pakistan cricketer, Azhar Mahmood, once famously said.

While the likes of Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders have done decently with the bat, it is bowling which has let them down sorely. Kolkata, for instance, have lost 1.62 wickets but taken less than 1 wicket on an average in the powerplay overs. Delhi Daredevils have been equally woeful. It’s the Chennai Super Kings that has come out on top in the powerplay.

They have lost just 1 wicket on an average while taking 1.42 of them in these overs. In terms of economy rate, too, Chennai have been spectacular, giving just 45.5 runs on an average. Pivotal to them has been Deepak Chahar. In the eight matches he did play in, Chennai gave away less than or equal to 40 runs on four occasions. In the three matches he was injured for, they leaked 59, 56 and 47. Chahar has taken 7 wickets at a superb economy of 7.09, making him the one of the better powerplay bowlers of the season if you combine both economy and wickets.

 

 

 

If you think those are great stats, there’s Umesh Yadav, who has been phenomenal for RCB on pitches where the ball has moved about. Umesh has taken 13 wickets at an economy of 6.75 in the powerplays, making him the sole bowler with more than 10 wickets in the first six overs this season.

Mitchell McClenaghan has nine but has given away runs at a rate of 7.44 while Andrew Tye has seven at an economy of 7. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma, both from Sunrisers Hyderabad, have been the best in terms of economy, with the duo giving away powerplay runs at a miserly rate of 5.68 and 5.95 respectively. Combined with Shakib-al-Hasan, who has been picking up more wickets than the two in the first six, Sunrisers have been near impossible to get away in these overs.

 

 

In their first eight games, they conceded 50-plus runs just once, but out of their last five games they have done it thrice. Incidentally, they lost two of these games and escaped by a close margin in another.

Trent Boult has been the biggest contributor for Delhi Daredevils but his 6 wickets have come at an appalling rate of 8.20. For Kolkata, Piyush Chawla and Andre Russell have consistently managed to get the wickets column ticking early but, like Boult, they have lacked discipline, giving away runs at a rate of 8.36 and 9.69 respectively.

 

 

 

For Rajasthan Royals, Krishnappa Gowtham and Jofra Archer have come good. Although Gowtham became less economical as the season progressed, he continues to be among the wickets. Archer, meanwhile, is more of a death bowler wickets-wise, but has been economical at the beginning.

The cream of the lot

From this analysis, it is indeed near impossible to pick two batsmen and two bowlers from each side as the best powerplayers. But if you really need to narrow the list down to the best five in both departments, a few names stand out.

Lokesh Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav would make the cut batting-wise without a shade of doubt. Jos Buttler, despite the small sample size, batted like a dream and should probably make it to the list, as should Virat Kohli and Sunil Narine.

Among bowlers, Yuzvendra Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been exceptional in containing the big hitters on small grounds, but Umesh Yadav, Andrew Tye and Deepak Chahar, Mitchell McClenaghan and Sandeep Sharma perhaps grab bragging rights as the best powerplay bowlers when you combine wickets and economy.

However, the powerplay overs do not always reflect the end result of the game. Similarly, the laurels and momentum that players have accumulated in the league phase cannot seal their destiny in the playoffs. Let the playoffs kick off!

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