ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Spin on the rise in IPL Powerplays

In the first season of the IPL, spinners bowled 30 overs during the Powerplays; in 2012, it went up to 211 overs

S Rajesh

April 5, 2013

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Sunil Narine exults after picking up a wicket, Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils, IPL, Kolkata, April 3, 2013
Sunil Narine has been the star spinner in the IPL, no matter when he has come in to bowl © BCCI
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It took only one game in IPL 2013 to reinforce that spin will again have a big role to play in the tournament. Sunil Narine, the Player of the Tournament last year, and the most economical among all IPL bowlers who've bowled at least 250 balls, took another four-wicket haul and Man-of-the-Match award: since the beginning of last season, Narine has four such awards from 16 matches, a rate bettered only by Chris Gayle (five in 15).

Narine was clearly the star of the show, but Shahbaz Nadeem and Johan Botha, the two spinners for Delhi Daredevils, did a fine job too, with combined figures of 3 for 44 in 7.4 overs. In all, the spinners took 7 for 57 in 11.4 overs in the match; the seamers had combined figures of 6 for 196 from 27 overs. With the Eden Gardens pitch being a typically slow Indian surface, and likely to get more spin-friendly as the tournament progresses, this is one venue where spinners will continue to flourish. And there'll surely be a few other venues similar to this one, ensuring that slow bowling continues to be the flavour of IPL 2013, like in previous years.

A look at the overall economy rates for spinners in each season indicates that they adapted pretty well, and pretty quickly, to the requirements of this format. In 2008, they went at 8.19 runs per over, and were marginally more expensive than the seamers. The next year, in South Africa, their economy rate dropped to 6.76, much lower than the rate for seamers, and since then spinners have been more economical than seam bowlers in each season.

The difference in the economy rates between pace and spin in 2009 was surprising because the tournament was hosted in South Africa, a country where conditions have traditionally helped seam and swing. However, the IPL was hosted late in their season, by which time the pitches had lost much of their bite and had become slower, assisting spin. Since then, teams have slowly discovered that taking pace off the ball is a pretty good option in these 20-over bashes.

Pace and spin in each IPL season so far
Season Spin-balls Wickets Average Econ rate Pace-balls Wickets Average Econ rate
2008 2981 134 30.38 8.19 9886 467 28.42 8.05
2009 4963 226 24.77 6.76 7978 388 26.25 7.65
2010 4943 210 28.80 7.34 8656 405 29.64 8.32
2011 6235 268 27.60 7.11 10166 470 28.12 7.80
2012 6118 241 31.35 7.41 11090 531 27.19 7.81

More significant than the improving economy rates, though, has been the gradual acceptance by most captains that spinners have a major role to play during the Powerplay overs. In the first IPL, spinners bowled all of 30 overs during the Powerplays over the entire tournament, and didn't do particularly well either, going at 8.73 runs per over while their seam counterparts conceded 7.44. Only two teams - Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals - used at least five overs of spin during the Powerplays, and Royals were the one side for whom this tactic worked: Yusuf Pathan's five overs during the Powerplays went for only 28 runs and fetched three wickets. Eight Powerplay overs of spin for Chargers cost them 80 runs, and three such overs for Daredevils cost 43.

Compared to those numbers, the stats in the previous season of the IPL are a huge contrast. Spinners bowled 211 overs, a seven-fold increase over 2008. In 2012, they contributed almost 25% of the Powerplay overs, and though they didn't take too many wickets, their economy rate of 6.79 was slightly better than the seamers managed.

Pace and spin in the Powerplay overs in each IPL season so far
Season Spin-balls Wickets Average Econ rate Pace-balls Wickets Average Econ rate
2008 180 7 37.42 8.73 3993 154 32.16 7.44
2009 443 18 26.94 6.56 3612 156 27.72 7.18
2010 804 31 29.61 6.85 3444 128 35.51 7.91
2011 1199 49 27.02 6.62 4020 152 31.03 7.04
2012 1266 31 46.22 6.79 4062 147 32.87 7.13

In the entire 2008 edition of the tournament, Super Kings bowled exactly one over of spin in the Powerplays - Muttiah Muralitharan bowled that over, and conceded seven runs. In 2012, Super Kings used spin in 33 of their Powerplay overs, with R Ashwin bowling 25 of those. The bowlers managed only three wickets in those 33 overs, but did a reasonable job of keeping the runs in check.

The team that used spin most often in the Powerplays in 2012 was easily Knight Riders. Their home games were at the Eden Gardens, and the slow pitch there was perfectly conducive to spin bowling. Knight Riders also had the slow-bowling quality to exploit these conditions: apart from Narine, they also had Shakib Al Hasan and Iqbal Abdulla, who were good enough to bowl spin early in the innings with a fairly new ball and with the field restrictions in place.

Royals bowled exactly 33 overs of spin as well during the Powerplays, but they managed more wickets, thanks largely to Ankeet Chavan, a left-arm spinner who took three wickets in 12 Powerplay overs.

The team that used the fewest overs of spin in the Powerplays was Kings XI: they had 11 overs of spin, which was still more than the most overs of spin used by a team in 2008 (eight by Chargers).

Team-wise contribution of spinners in the Powerplays in IPL 2012
Team Balls Wickets Average Econ rate
Knight Riders 258 7 39.28 6.39
Super Kings 198 3 77.67 7.06
Royals 198 7 33.57 7.12
Warriors 162 3 56.67 6.29
Chargers 126 4 33.00 6.28
Mumbai Indians 102 2 48.00 5.64
Daredevils 84 3 37.00 7.92
Royal Challengers 72 0 - 7.58
Kings XI 66 2 45.00 8.18

The table below lists spinners who bowled at least ten overs in the Powerplays in IPL 2012. Almost all of them have very good economy rates. The one exception is Johan Botha, who conceded 102 runs in the 11 overs he bowled in the Powerplays - an economy rate of 9.27, and with no wickets either. When not bowling in the Powerplays, Botha has nine wickets at an average of 21.66 and an economy rate of 6.50. Clearly he hasn't enjoyed the combination of new ball and Powerplays much. For several of the other spinners, though, it hasn't been much of a problem.

Spinners who bowled most often in the Powerplay overs in IPL 2012
Bowler Balls Wickets Average Econ rate
R Ashwin 150 3 56.33 6.76
Sunil Narine 96 2 36.00 4.50
Ankeet Chavan 72 3 26.67 6.67
Ankit Sharma 66 3 16.00 4.36
Johan Botha 66 0 - 9.27
Murali Kartik 66 1 69.00 6.27
Marlon Samuels 66 2 33.00 6.00
Shakib Al Hasan 66 2 39.00 7.09
Iqbal Abdulla 60 2 37.00 7.40

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

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© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 1 
Posted by greenydude on (April 5, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

well what more can you get on indian pitches :)

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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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