IPL bowling analysis April 10, 2012

Kumble's five-for against Royals tops the list

S Rajesh and Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
Analysis of individual and overall bowling performances across the four IPL seasons

Twenty20 cricket is thought to be a batsman-dominated game but, over four seasons of the IPL, the bowlers have held their own - and in many cases turned around games with match-winning spells. Lasith Malinga and Anil Kumble, the top bowlers in the overall and innings-wise lists, have proved themselves all over the world, but the lists below also include some less famous names who have grabbed the opportunity to mingle with the best.

Take Amit Singh, a 30-year-old medium-pacer from Gujarat who has played only 18 first-class matches. Playing under Shane Warne for Rajasthan Royals, he turned in a bowling performance that comes up in third place, taking 3 for 9 against Kings XI Punjab in a matchwinning display.

In the overall list, though, most of the names are high-quality ODI bowlers as well, which shows that they've adapted well to another form of limited-overs cricket. And for those who thought that 20-over cricket would favour one form of bowling over another, this study goes against that theory: there's a fair mix of fast bowlers and spinners who've done well, with five of each in the top ten for both, the innings-wise and the overall lists.

Key components of the bowling analysis

-Context for a bowler's economy rate The economy rate of a bowler's spell is weighted against the match run-rate. So, a bowler who bowls economically in a high-scoring match gets a higher score than one who achieves the same figures in a low-scoring game.

Consider two performances: Rahul Sharma's spell of 2 for 7 against Mumbai Indians, 2011 and Anil Kumble's 5 for 5 against Rajasthan Royals, 2009. Rahul's economy rate of 1.75 is slightly higher than Kumble's 1.57 but, relative to his match run-rate (7.67), Rahul's performance is better than Kumble's because the overall run-rate in Kumble's game was lower (5.43).

-Quality of wickets taken The wickets taken are weighted according to the batting position of the batsman dismissed. A bowler who takes top-order wickets thus gets a higher value than one who dismissed tailenders.

- Number of balls bowled A bowler who doesn't bowl his full quota of overs gets a slightly dampened rating (weighted according to the number of balls bowled), since it's possible for bowlers, especially part-time ones, to get away with one or two inexpensive overs in which they take a few wickets. Bowling a full quota of four overs without conceding too many is far more difficult, and is hence recognised as such.

Consider Laxmi Shukla's spell of 3 for 6 in 0.5 overs v Delhi Daredevils, 2008 and Lasith Malinga's 3 for 9 v Deccan Chargers, 2011. While Shukla bowled just five balls in the end and picked up three wickets, the bowling score is higher for Malinga who bowled his entire quota of overs.

- Minimum bowling performances As in the overall rating for batting, there's a minimum number of bowling performances required for him to get a full rating in the overall rating for bowlers as well. For players who haven't bowled in the required number of innings, their overall rating gets dampened. Just as with batting, the cut-off for the minimum number of innings is 20.

Top ten bowling performances

1. Anil Kumble: 5 for 5 v Rajasthan Royals, 2009

Rajasthan Royals were facing a target of just 134 on a difficult track in Cape Town. Kumble bowled 3.1 overs and picked up five wickets while conceding just five runs. Although it was a low-scoring match (match run-rate of 5.43), Kumble's figures were still outstanding, even in the context of the relatively low scores.

2. Amit Mishra: 4 for 9 v Kings XI Punjab, 2011

Mishra helped Deccan Chargers defend 198 with a superb spell of 4 for 9 off his four overs. His economy rate of 2.25 stood out in a game where the scoring rate was 8.05.

3. Amit Singh: 3 for 9 v Kings XI Punjab, 2009

After Rajasthan Royals set Kings XI Punjab a huge target of 212, Amit Singh produced an excellent spell of 3 for 9 at an economy rate of 2.25. In comparison, the match run-rate was 8.60. Another notable aspect of Singh's performance was that all three of his wickets were top-six batsmen.

4. Sohail Tanvir: 6 for 14 v Chennai Super Kings, Jaipur, 2008

Tanvir's initial burst left Chennai Super Kings at 11 for 3 and he returned later to pick up the wickets of the top scorer Albie Morkel and the lower order. Tanvir's haul of six wickets is the best in the IPL and helped set up a comfortable win for Rajasthan Royals.

5. Rahul Sharma: 2 for 7 v Mumbai Indians, 2011

In a fairly high-scoring game, Rahul's spell of 2 for 7 in four overs was exceptional. It is a top performance primarily because the match run-rate (7.67) is more than four times Rahul's economy rate in the game (1.75). Added to that, both his wickets were of top-order batsmen.

6. Lasith Malinga: 3 for 9 v Deccan Chargers, 2011

Malinga's burst of three wickets including two top-order wickets set up Mumbai Indians' 37-run win. His economy rate of 2.25 stood out in a match where the scoring rate was 7.67.

7. Amit Mishra: 5 for 17 v Deccan Chargers, 2008

In a high-scoring game (376 runs in 40 overs), Mishra's spell of 5 for 17 helped Delhi Daredevils win by 12 runs. His economy rate of 4.25 was excellent in a game where the scoring rate was 9.40.

8. Sohail Tanvir: 3 for 10 v Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2008

Tanvir picked up two of the top three batsmen in his initial spell and reduced Royal Challengers Bangalore to 5 for 3 in their chase of a huge target of 198. In a game where the run-rate was 8.30, Tanvir's economy rate was 2.50.

9. Ishant Sharma: 5 for 12 v Kochi Tuskers, 2011

After being restricted to just 129, Deccan Chargers fought back to win a low-scoring contest by 55 runs. Although Ishant's economy rate of 4.00 in such a match (run-rate 5.53) does not stand out, his haul of five top-order wickets (all in the top six) gives him high overall score.

10. Brad Hodge : 4 for 13 v Rajasthan Royals, 2011

Hodge picked up 4 for 13 to enable Kochi Tuskers bowl out Rajasthan Royals for 97 and chase down the 98-run target in just 7.3 overs. Hodge had an excellent economy rate of 3.25 in the match but the stand-out aspect is the fact that he picked up four wickets in a complete spell.

Top individual bowling performances in IPL
Bowler Team Opposition Spell Points
Anil Kumble Royal Challengers Bangalore Rajasthan Royals 5/5 71.80
Amit Mishra Deccan Chargers Kings XI Punjab 4/9 67.11
Amit Singh Rajasthan Royals Kings XI Punjab 3/9 66.04
Sohail Tanvir Rajasthan Royals Chennai Super Kings 6/14 64.89
Rahul Sharma Pune Warriors Mumbai Indians 2/7 63.48
Lasith Malinga Mumbai Indians Deccan Chargers 3/9 61.52
Amit Mishra Delhi Daredevils Deccan Chargers 5/17 60.32
Sohail Tanvir Rajasthan Royals Royal Challengers Bangalore 3/10 58.69
Ishant Sharma Deccan Chargers Kochi Tuskers 5/12 55.79
Brad Hodge Kochi Tuskers Rajasthan Royals 4/13 55.54
S Aravind Royal Challengers Bangalore Kings XI Punjab 4/14 55.53
Harbhajan Singh Mumbai Indians Delhi Daredevils 4/17 55.09
Munaf Patel Mumbai Indians Kings XI Punjab 5/21 54.95
Harbhajan Singh Mumbai Indians Chennai Super Kings 5/18 54.80
Sohail Tanvir Rajasthan Royals Mumbai Indians 4/14 54.36
Rohit Sharma Deccan Chargers Mumbai Indians 4/6 54.09
Piyush Chawla Kings XI Punjab Royal Challengers Bangalore 4/17 53.94
Ashish Nehra Delhi Daredevils Kings XI Punjab 1/6 53.74
Shaun Pollock Mumbai Indians Chennai Super Kings 1/9 53.62
Lasith Malinga Mumbai Indians Delhi Daredevils 5/13 53.47

The overall bowling scores

Lasith Malinga, who is on top of the overall list of IPL bowlers, has an excellent economy rate of 6.38 and has also managed to pick up 61 wickets in 42 matches (1.45 per match). Amit Mishra, who has the same number of wickets as Malinga, has a slightly higher economy rate and lower values of wickets-per-match (1.35).

There are others, though, who haven't been so prolific in terms of wickets but have superb economy rates. Rahul Sharma (21 wickets in 20 matches) and Harbhajan Singh (48 in 46) have only taken marginally more than one wicket per match, but both make it to the top 20 on the strength of excellent economy rates - 6.22 for Rahul Sharma and 6.76 for Harbhajan.

Top bowlers overall in IPL
Bowler Matches Points
Lasith Malinga 42 25.33
Amit Mishra 45 24.72
R Ashwin 30 24.12
Doug Bollinger 21 24.11
Farveez Maharoof 20 23.37
Anil Kumble 42 22.97
Rahul Sharma 20 22.96
Muttiah Muralitharan 45 22.56
Ashish Nehra 31 22.25
Dale Steyn 40 21.80
Munaf Patel 45 21.69
Daniel Vettori 25 21.47
RP Singh 56 21.17
Ryan Harris 29 20.99
Harbhajan Singh 46 20.63
Pragyan Ojha 54 20.48
Dirk Nannes 24 20.47
Irfan Pathan 56 20.43
Shane Warne 55 20.07
Zaheer Khan 46 19.99

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

Analysis conducted by Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan and Senthilkumar

Click here to download the list of top 50 individual bowling performances and here to download the list of top 50 IPL bowlers.