<
>

Gayle's big splash, and Bhuvneshwar's stifling defence

All stats updated until April 23, 2018. The qualification is 60 balls, for batsmen and bowlers.

Chris Gayle's record: three innings, 229 runs in 134 balls, and dismissed once. That is an average of 229, at a strike rate of 170.89. After missing the first couple of games this IPL, Gayle has announced his arrival in grand style, scoring 29 more runs than he did in nine innings last season.

Gayle's numbers are fantastic this season, but when seen through the lens of the Smart Runs Index - one among a new set of metrics introduced by ESPNcricinfo to make sense of T20 numbers - it shows just how far ahead of the pack Gayle has been so far.

The Smart Runs Index (SRI) calculates the number of smart runs, per innings, by which a batsman has outperformed the average batsman at a similar stage of the innings (the stage of the innings is in terms of balls remaining when the batsman faced his first ball). In Gayle's case, this comparison is done largely with other openers - and also other batsmen who have come in early in the innings - in the IPL over the last three seasons.

Compared with the average smart runs made by these batsmen - which is calculated by factoring in the match strike rate and the scoring rate at the other end when these players were batting - Gayle has scored a whopping 60.29 more smart runs per innings. That's also because Gayle's actual contribution of 229 runs converts into 253 smart runs, given that he has outperformed the match rate and his partner''s scoring rate in the three innings put together.

The next best in this metric is AB de Villiers, with an SRI of 28.03. De Villiers has been terrific as well, scoring 212 runs in five innings, but he has had a couple of failures - against Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians - to go with three innings where he passed 40. The rest in the top five are bunched fairly close together, with KL Rahul pipping Rishabh Pant (SRI 19.44).

Among the 37 batsmen who have faced 60 or more balls so far this season, the worst SRI belongs to D'Arcy Short, who has struggled in his four innings, scoring only 65 from 67 balls. His 65 runs translates into 30.42 smart runs, which indicates he has been well below par in strike-rate terms, when compared to the match rates. His SRI is a poor -20.87. Three other left-handed openers are in the bottom five as well, with Gautam Gambhir's SRI being nearly as bad as Short's. Manish Pandey finds himself near the bottom as he has scored only 72 from four innings, despite coming in to bat in the Powerplay in three innings.

Last week's Smart Stats round-up had looked at the smart economy rates for bowlers; this week the focus is on the Dot Pressure Index. This metric simply rewards a bowler with one point for bowling three successive dots in a row within an over; the points go up to 1.33 for four dots in a row, 1.66 for five, and two for bowling a maiden over. The total points thus earned are divided by the number of innings bowled in, to get the Dot Pressure Index (DPI).

Bhuvneshwar Kumar leads this metric with a DPI of 1.66 per game. In the four matches he has played so far, he has twice bowled four consecutive dots - both in his first over, against Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab - and three successive dots on four other occasions.

Deepak Chahar, who started off IPL 2018 with three successive dots to Rohit Sharma, is one of only two bowlers to bowl a maiden over this season. He follows closely with a DPI of 1.53. In the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad alone, he racked up a DPI of 4.33, bowling a maiden over, followed by four successive dots in his second over and three in his third. That is the highest DPI value by any bowler in a single game in this IPL.

Rashid Khan and Billy Stanlake have smart economy rates of more than 8.50, which puts them outside the top 20 in that metric, but their DPIs are in the top five. Trent Boult, who has bowled the other maiden over this season, is sixth with a DPI of 1.05.

On the other hand, only three bowlers have bowled 10 or more overs without bowling three successive dots even once: Shahbaz Nadeem, Kulwant Khejroliya and Ben Laughlin.