ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

The most and least productive overs in T20Is

An over-wise analysis of T20 internationals, and the best overs for batsmen and bowlers in this format

S Rajesh

September 21, 2012

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Ajantha Mendis is pumped up after bowling Brad Haddin first ball, Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Twenty20, Pallekele, August 8, 2011
Ajantha Mendis is a handful whenever he bowls in T20 cricket, but even more so when he bowls in the 16th over: he has 8 for 21 in 30 balls in that over © Associated Press

All stats exclude ten matches for which ball-by-ball data is not available. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh feature once each in these ten games, while the others involved Associate teams. Stats updated till September 19, 2012.

It has been seven and a half years since the first T20 international was played, between New Zealand and Australia, in Auckland in February 2005. The ICC has been pretty conservative in scheduling them, despite which the overall tally of T20 internationals played so far is a fairly healthy 265, with 84 of these being in World Twenty20 tournaments, and 31 more in the World Twenty20 Qualifiers.

When T20 first started, batsmen and bowlers would not have had much of an idea of how to approach such a condensed format (apart from the batsman trying to hit every ball as hard as possible), but gradually both species have evolved certain methods to outwit the other. (To read about this from a batting, spin-bowling and fast-bowling perspective, click here.) Even though a team innings is only 20 overs, there are still pockets within it when batsmen try to dominate, and others when they ease off.

Which are the specific overs when the batsmen score the quickest, and when do they lose the most wickets? How does the Powerplay impact the run rates and averages, and does the run-scoring drop immediately after the Powerplay overs? Read on to find out more. (For a similar analysis of the IPL, click here.)

Several numbers in the table below are along expected lines. Here's a look at some of them:

  • The first over is the least productive in terms of run rate, and the last over is the most productive. This is as you'd expect, with the openers trying to get their eye in at the start of an innings. Only 33 sixes have been struck in the first over, compared to 157 in the 20th. The first over has also witnessed the fewest wickets - 123 - while the last over has the most - 294. The dot-ball percentage is also highest in the first over, which is what you'd expect with the field restrictions in place.

    • The last five overs are the most productive. Apart from the 17th and 18th overs swapping positions, each over in this period is more productive than the previous one. The fifth over is the only one, apart from the last five, in which the average run rate is more than eight per over.

    • The fifth over also sees unusually few wickets fall: only 127 batsmen have been dismissed in the fifth, compared to 153 in the fourth and 152 in the sixth. The fifth-over average is thus extremely high - it's easily the highest among all overs, and the only one that's 30-plus. This one is more difficult to explain - is it because the fifth over is often when the first-change bowler comes on, after two overs from the new-ball bowler? - but there was a similar trend in IPL 2012 too: only 25 wickets fell in the fifth overs - the fewest - at an average of 45.76, which was the highest in any over. (The second-highest was 39.73, in the tenth.)

    • Apart from the first over, the lowest run rate is in the seventh, as batsmen take a breather after the frenetic activity of the Powerplay overs. In fact, the run rates are pretty low in the eighth and ninth overs as well.

    Over-wise stats in T20 internationals (sorted by run rate)
    Over no. Runs Wickets Average Run rate Dot ball % Boundary %
    20 3265 294 11.10 9.92 30.66 53.11
    19 3503 234 14.97 9.12 32.57 51.78
    17 3774 211 17.88 8.54 33.52 51.35
    18 3456 228 15.15 8.22 32.87 45.25
    16 3743 188 19.90 8.15 33.15 48.78
    5 4080 126 32.38 8.07 46.62 61.23
    4 3973 153 25.96 7.84 48.32 62.12
    6 3909 152 25.71 7.76 47.25 60.99
    3 3881 159 24.40 7.65 50.66 62.51
    15 3511 183 19.18 7.47 37.14 48.08
    14 3532 148 23.86 7.42 35.62 43.88
    13 3522 160 22.01 7.33 36.38 45.43
    12 3479 126 27.61 7.21 35.94 42.60
    11 3372 150 22.48 6.92 36.58 39.92
    10 3346 128 26.14 6.83 36.76 40.88
    2 3435 134 25.63 6.77 55.50 58.98
    9 3295 143 23.04 6.65 40.38 41.76
    8 3315 135 24.55 6.64 39.71 40.48
    7 3168 127 24.94 6.32 40.98 38.64
    1 3047 123 24.77 6.00 60.00 52.97
    Excludes data from ten matches, one match involving each of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and all the others involving Associate teams. Ball-by-ball data was not available for these matches.

    The next table isn't about most runs scored in an over of a T20 international - you can click here for that stat - but it's about batsmen scoring the most runs in a particular over in all T20 internationals they've played in.

    At the head of this list is David Warner, who also makes two other appearances in the top eight. In the third over of all matches he has played in, Warner has scored 179 runs in 92 balls - a rate of 11.54 per over. Brendon McCullum features three times in the table below, scoring plenty in the first, third and fourth overs, but his scoring rate isn't particularly destructive. Graeme Smith, Shane Watson and Warner have all scored at around two runs per ball in their high-scoring overs.

    The overs listed below are all during the Powerplay, and the batsmen are all openers, which is what you'd expect. Chris Gayle doesn't feature in the list simply because he hasn't played that many matches - only 23, in which he has scored 757 runs at 36.04, at a strike rate of 143.91. His most productive over is also the fourth, in which he has scored 92 from 44 balls, a run rate of 12.54.

    Most runs by a batsman in an over in all T20I
    Batsman Over no. Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
    David Warner 3 179 93 5 35.80 11.54
    Brendon McCullum 1 147 134 4 36.75 6.58
    David Warner 2 138 107 2 69.00 7.73
    Brendon McCullum 3 136 105 5 27.20 7.77
    Brendon McCullum 4 132 84 3 44.00 9.42
    Graeme Smith 6 130 69 5 26.00 11.30
    Shane Watson 4 121 55 2 60.50 13.20
    David Warner 4 120 65 2 60.00 11.07

    The list of bowlers who have taken the most wickets in a particular over is dominated by Pakistan, with Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi all featuring twice in the top eight - that's also a good illustration of why Pakistan are arguably the best bowling team in T20 internationals.

    Ajmal leads the way, with 14 wickets in the 121 balls he has bowled in the 18th overs of all matches he has played in. Gul has been equally effective in the final overs, with a combined 20 wickets in the 17th and 18th. And in the middle overs, Afridi takes care of things, with eight wickets each in the eighth and 11th overs. Not only have all these Pakistan bowlers taken wickets, they've done so while maintaining excellent economy rates.

    While these bowlers all have superb stats, even these numbers fade a bit when compared to those of Ajantha Mendis' 16th-over figures: in 30 balls, he has taken eight wickets, conceding 21 runs, for an average of 2.62 runs per wicket. In the rout of Zimbabwe in the first match of the ongoing World Twenty20, Mendis' 16th over was a double-wicket maiden. Given that he has taken 46 wickets in T20 internationals, 17% of all his wickets have come in the 16th over. That's one stat Mahela Jayawardene should keep in mind when Sri Lanka play South Africa in their next match, and indeed going further in the World Twenty20.

    Bowlers with the most wickets in an over in T20I
    Bowler Over no. Balls Runs Wickets Average Econ rate
    Saeed Ajmal 18 121 129 14 9.21 6.39
    Umar Gul 18 76 98 11 8.90 7.73
    Umar Gul 17 84 88 9 9.77 6.28
    Brett Lee 3 126 175 8 21.87 8.33
    Ajantha Mendis 16 30 21 8 2.62 4.20
    Saeed Ajmal 17 78 74 8 9.25 5.69
    Shahid Afridi 11 156 169 8 21.12 6.50
    Shahid Afridi 8 114 82 8 10.25 4.31

  • S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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    © ESPN EMEA Ltd.

    Comments: 11 
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    Posted by Dummy4 on (September 23, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

    Pakistani are dominating in bowling

    Posted by pranav on (September 22, 2012, 15:25 GMT)

    why would some1 make such a query

    Posted by Phil on (September 21, 2012, 21:26 GMT)

    So now we need to get rid of those boring middle overs (7-11) and play 15-15 cricket

    Posted by adnan on (September 21, 2012, 19:29 GMT)

    Well "average" analysis is a good thing to start with but i think this is not the right metric to analyze most/least productive over. A better approach can be to look at the frequency distribution analysis i.e., how many times in all matches i-th over was the most productive etc.

    Posted by just on (September 21, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

    Not a good article for an indian fan. they dont have any :-)

    Posted by Sreejith on (September 21, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

    Stats, Here you got the best now--- Kohli's last 15 intl innings133*,108,66,183,106,1,38,128*,23,68,58,103,51*,70,50. Runs-1186 Avg- 98.33 WOW

    Posted by Kalyan on (September 21, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

    boring stats...stats for the sake of stats. 7th over least productive, 87th ball always wide...

    Posted by Talha on (September 21, 2012, 10:36 GMT)

    Awesome Work. Ajmal's stat in over no 18 is phenomenal...Speaks both of his control, class and courage

    Posted by Andrew on (September 21, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

    The scoring rates are a condensed version of the old 50 over format where the first 15 had fielding restrictions and the last 10 were the peak scoring overs ... teams would normally start slowly pick it up by the 15th then when the field spreads it slows and then picks up for a slog at the end ... It also coincides that the most wickets fell in the last 10 overs ...

    Posted by Dummy4 on (September 21, 2012, 7:11 GMT)

    Great article... You did a hectic job mate :p

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    S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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