KL Rahul's unbeaten 84 off 54 balls, in what looked like a tight run-chase against Rajasthan Royals, further underlined his sensational form in IPL 2018. In nine innings, he has already scored 376 runs, which puts him in fourth place in the season's charts, and has been dismissed below 20 only once while going past 30 six times. And he is only 21 away from equalling his 2016 aggregate of 397 runs in 12 innings.
Not surprisingly, Rahul is among the top names in the Smart Stats batting metrics this season. His 376 runs have come off only 231 balls, at a conventional strike rate of 162.77. When match strike rate and runs scored at the other end when he has batted are considered, his Smart Strike Rate goes up to 194.94, which means he has contributed 74.32 extra runs in the balls he has faced. This Smart Contribution is the highest among all batsmen this season; next-best, with a 50-ball cut-off, is AB de Villiers, with a Smart Contribution of 64.90.
Rahul is also in the top four in the Smart Runs Index (SRI), which calculates the extra smart runs scored by a batsman per innings, as against other batsmen historically (over a three-year period), when they have come in to bat at the same stage of an innings (in terms of overs remaining). Rahul's score of 21.47 along this metric means that he has scored those many more smart runs per innings than the average batsman who has come in at the same stage. The only batsmen with a higher SRI are Chris Gayle (28.07) and de Villiers (24.12).
While Gayle and Rahul have been the batting stars for Kings XI, their runs have also camouflaged a poor middle order: the two batsmen have contributed 51.4% of the runs scored by Kings XI's batsmen. On the other hand, Kings XI's Nos. 3-5 have managed only 423 runs in 25 innings, the lowest among all teams. Among the four Kings XI batsmen who have been regulars in the middle order, three of them - Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh - have negative SRIs.
In terms of the overall team SRIs, Kings XI are in second place, behind Chennai Super Kings. Kings XI's batsmen score 8.6 runs more per team innings, compared to 30 for Super Kings. (This is calculated by summing up the SRI for each batsman in each innings, and then dividing by the number of team innings; in the case of Super Kings, the sum of their SRIs is 299.75, which, when divided by the 10 innings they have batted, gives a team SRI per innings of 30. This means that, given the point of entry of each Super Kings batsman, they collectively score 30 runs more per innings than the historical par.) Super Kings also have a much higher team SRI due to their batting average: they average 36.90 runs per wicket, while no other team touches 29.
Rajasthan Royals are the cellar dwellers in this metric too, with a value of -21.1, while the negative value for Sunrisers Hyderabad only shows how good their bowlers have been this season. It also proves there are two distinct ways to reach the top of the IPL table.