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Superstats - Ashwin or Harbhajan, whose contribution was bigger?

CSK celebrate with Harbhajan Singh after his wickets BCCI

The first match of Saturday's double-header saw offspinners from the two sides play influential roles for their teams. While R Ashwin dismissed Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina at crucial points to slow down Chennai Super Kings' progress in the middle overs, Harbhajan Singh dished out some vintage offspin to help his team defend 160.

Traditional cricket numbers would put Ashwin's 3 for 25 above Harbhajan's 2 for 17, but who made the bigger contribution in the context of the match?

- Smart Economy awards bowlers for bowling difficult overs under pressure. For example, given the same runs conceded, an over bowled in the middle overs will get less credit than an over bowled in the Powerplay or at the death. Similarly, an over bowled when the team is required to defend a lower total will get more credit than when the bowler has more runs to play with.
- Smart Wickets gives credit for dismissing batsmen of higher quality as defined by Batting Quality - another Smart Stats metric that grades batsmen according to their performances and also takes into account the impact of the wicket on the team's score.

Harbhajan's two wickets were worth 2.3 Smart Wickets and his Smart Economy was a remarkable 0.75. His first over in the Powerplay was a double-wicket maiden, in which he took the wickets of Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal. He returned later to bowl the 14th and 16th overs to two set batsmen - KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan - looking to tee off to finish the chase. With the required run-rate a little more than nine an over at the start of the 14th over, Harbhajan conceded just four runs. His 16th over went for just five more, as required run-rate went over 11.

Ashwin bowled three overs in the middle in comparison, giving away 23 runs from his four overs. At 3.1, his Smart Wickets were higher than Harbhajan's but his Smart Economy, though lower than his own traditional economy at 3.50, was inferior to Harbhajan's. So, in the battle of the two offies, Harbhajan upstaged Ashwin, with a contribution of 21.39% to the latter's 18.89%.

Smart Stats is a part of Superstats, a new set of metrics by ESPNcricinfo to tell more enriching and insightful numbers-based stories. To know more about Superstats, click here.

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