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Shreyas Gopal and Jofra Archer - two stand-out performers in a mediocre line-up

Rajasthan Royals didn't have an IPL 2019 campaign to remember, finishing seventh on 11 points, but a couple of players shone for them through the season: one was legspinner Shreyas Gopal, who finished the tournament with 20 wickets - the third-highest in the league stage, after Kagiso Rabada (25) and Imran Tahir (21) - and the other was Jofra Archer, who bowled 43 overs at an economy rate of 6.76. However, in terms of Smart Wickets, Shreyas leads the table with 27, ahead of Rabada (26) and Tahir (24).

ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which takes into account the context of player performances, shows just how exceptional these bowlers were - Archer's Smart Economy Rate was 4.84, the best among bowlers who bowled at least 15 overs in the tournament.

Smart Wickets takes into account not just the number of wickets taken, but also the quality of batsman dismissed, the score at which he was dismissed, and the state of the game when the dismissal took place. Thus, a high-quality top-order wicket fetches more points than that of a tail-ender, and getting a good player out early gets more points than getting him out when he has already done plenty of damage. Similarly, getting a good player out when the match is in the balance fetches more points than getting him out when the outcome is more-or-less sealed.

Out of Shreyas' 20 wickets, 16 were of batsmen in the top three, while he dismissed the No. 4 batsman twice, and Nos. 5 and 6 once each. He dismissed AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey twice each, while his other victims included Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer, Chris Lynn and Quinton de Kock. Also, in eight of his 20 dismissals, the batsman was dismissed before he reached 20, and that includes both the de Villiers dismissals, as well as the wickets of Rohit, Williamson and Pandey.

Rabada's 25 wickets included nine of batsmen batting at No. 7 or lower. Rabada was exceptional in the death overs - he took 17 wickets in the last four overs, five more than the next highest - but because his list of victims includes lower-order names like Khaleel Ahmed, Hardus Viljeon, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and M Ashwin, his wicket value is marginally lower than Shreyas'. Similarly, Tahir's 21 wickets is worth 24 Smart Wickets.

Smart Economy Rate, meanwhile, takes into account not just the overs bowled and runs conceded, but also the match situation in terms of pressure on the bowler at the time, the overall match run rate, and the batsmen that a bowler bowled to. Keeping a top-quality batsman quiet in a high-scoring match counts for much more than doing the same to a tailender in a low-scoring game, for example.

Keeping that in mind, Archer's conventional economy rate of 6.77 was actually worth 4.84 on the Smart Economy scale. Of the 43 overs that Archer bowled, 16 were in the Powerplays (ER 4.75) and 17 were in the last four overs (ER 9.23). Even within the death overs, he bowled the 19th or the 20th overs nine times. Given that he often bowled the tough overs when the pressure was high, Archer's Smart Economy is better than Rashid Khan's and Mohammad Nabi's, even though both those bowlers had marginally lower conventional economy rates. Of the 56 overs that Rashid bowled, 41 were in the middle overs, though he did bowl a fair bit towards the back end of that grouping, bowling 13 times in the 14th or 15th overs. Similarly, Nabi bowled 14 out of his 25.1 overs during the middle stage of an innings.

Coming back to Shreyas, so good were his performances that he comes into the top five in terms of most impactful players of the league stage of IPL 2019; he is the only one in the top five who is there almost entirely because of his bowling. The Impact Score is calculated as a sum of the batting and bowling impact scores, which in turn are functions of the Smart Runs scored (for batsmen), and the Smart Wickets and Smart Economy Rates (for bowlers). In all cases, they take into account not just the raw scores, but also the context of the performances given the match situation and pressure on the batsman/bowler.

That Royals still finished where they did despite these two stellar performers is a sad commentary on the rest of the squad.

Batting impact score is derived taking into account Smart Runs, which are actual runs scored by batsmen adjusted for the match context and situation, and the replacement benefit or cost to the team, as the case may be, if the batsmen's performance is replaced with the match average.

Bowling impact score is derived taking into account Smart Economy and Smart Wickets, which are runs conceded and wickets taken by bowlers adjusted for the match context and situation, and the replacement benefit or cost to the team, as the case may be, if the bowler's performance is replaced with the match average.

Impact Score is a sum of the Batting and Bowling Impact scores in each match.

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.