IPL stats analysis April 10, 2012

Marsh and Malinga are IPL's best

S Rajesh and Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
A detailed analysis of batting and bowling performances across the four IPL seasons finds Shaun Marsh and Lasith Malinga on top

Shaun Marsh and Lasith Malinga have emerged the best performers in IPL, according to an analysis conducted by ESPNcricinfo.

The analysis, which rated each and every performance in the first four editions of the tournament in a qualitative manner going beyond runs and wickets, has also placed Brendon McCullum's unbeaten 158 in the very first match of the IPL, for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore, as the best innings ever played in the tournament, while Anil Kumble's 5 for 5 for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Rajasthan Royals in the 2009 season has been rated the best bowling performance.

The study analysed each IPL batting and bowling performance over the first four seasons, giving each one a score, keeping in mind the different dynamics of 20-over cricket, where strike rates and economy rates often take precedence over the runs scored or wickets taken. The factors considered for batting performances were, among others, the strike rates with respect to the match scoring rates and the batting position at which the runs were scored. For bowlers, the match economy rate and the quality of wickets taken were also considered. These scores were then averaged out to give a mean batting and bowling score for each player.

Marsh, who scored 1267 runs for Kings XI Punjab in the first four seasons at a strike rate of almost 141, managed to edge past Chris Gayle - Gayle has a higher strike rate of 162, but averages 38 runs per innings compared to Marsh's 45. Marsh also scored 11 fifties in 28 innings in those four seasons, though his form has fallen so significantly that he was dropped from the Kings XI team for their second match of the ongoing IPL season.

McCullum's blitz in the tournament opener in 2008 was a stunning way to launch the IPL, but since then his performances have been below par, which is reflected in the fact that McCullum's overall batting score in the analysis is 13.04, which just about gets him into the top-20 list for batsmen.

Suresh Raina, the leading run-scorer in the first four seasons with 1813 in 60 innings, came in at seventh place, while Sachin Tendulkar, the second-highest run-getter, was a slot higher. The list of top five batsmen was dominated by Australians, with Matthew Hayden, Shane Watson and Michael Hussey filling up positions three to five.

The list of top batting performances was headed by the usual suspects, featuring innings from Virender Sehwag, Sanath Jayasuriya, Adam Gilchrist and Yusuf Pathan. Gayle's first innings is at 12th place, but he has two more within the top 35, which indicates how destructive he has been in the IPL.

Kumble's bowling performance in in Cape Town against Rajasthan Royals was stunning but, in terms of overall numbers, it's tough to argue with Malinga's contribution for Mumbai Indians. He has taken almost 1.5 wickets per match, at an economy rate of 6.33. The surprise has been Amit Mishra, the legspinner who has played for Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils: in 45 matches he has taken 61 wickets at an economy rate of 6.84.

The list of top bowling performances is a mix of those in which bowlers took plenty of wickets, and others in which they conceded very few runs but didn't pick up too many wickets. For instance, Rahul Sharma's 2 for 7 in four overs for Pune Warriors against Mumbai Indians last season comes in fifth, ahead of many other spells that fetched more wickets. That's because he managed an economy rate of 1.75 in a match in which no other bowler had a rate of less than five, and he dismissed a couple of top-order batsmen as well. Ashish Nehra's 1 for 6 in four overs against Kings XI Punjab in the 2009 edition is at 18th position because of his exceptional economy rate.

The main factors that were considered

  • Match strike rate: Each batting and bowling performance was weighted against the scoring rate in that match. Thus, an 80 off 40 balls got more points if it comes in a match in which the other batsmen struggle to score quickly, compared to one in which several other batsmen make quick runs. Similarly, an economical spell gets more points in a high-scoring game.

  • Batting position: Since the 20-over game is one in which top-order batsmen get many more opportunities than even middle-order ones, the runs scored were weighted against the average scores by batsmen in those batting positions. A middle- or lower-order batsman thus gets more credit for a half-century compared to a top-order batsman.

  • Quality of wickets taken: In T20 matches, bowlers often taken lower-order wickets in a cluster towards the end of an innings. In this analysis, the lower-order wickets fetch lesser rewards for a bowler compared to a top-order wicket.

For a more detailed look at the batting analysis, click here. For the bowling, click here.

All stats are updated for the first four IPL seasons (2008-2011)

Analysis conducted by Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan and Senthilkumar