Is Bangalore the best pitch to bat on?

Chris Gayle launches to the boundary BCCI

One of the features of IPL 2013 so far has been the quality of the pitches. The surfaces have been varied, from the slow ones in Hyderabad to the seamer-friendly ones in Jaipur, but most of them have been pretty fair to both teams over the period of an entire match, which is one of the reasons for the number of close games there have been in the tournament so far. Want to know which ground has seen the most sixes, the highest run rates and the highest averages? Read on to find out.

The Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore has generally provided the most batsman-friendly conditions in the IPL this year, but the overall run rate here is only the fourth-highest. While the 263 scored by Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors significantly boosted the overall scoring rate at the ground, there have also been low scores here: Rajasthan Royals were bowled out for 117, while Warriors were so deflated by Chris Gayle's pulverisation that they responded with 133.

The venue with the highest run rate in the tournament so far is the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, where teams have scored at 8.58 runs per over in four matches. The home team has batted first here every time, and scored at least 170, with their highest being 209 against Delhi Daredevils. The team chasing has lost every time, but in two of those chases they have scored at least 165 too. That's also the venue with the highest average of sixes per match - 14.25, compared to 12.33 in Bangalore.

The MA Chidambaram Stadium has been the most equitable, in terms of distribution of matches won by the teams batting first and chasing - each has won three times (though it would have been different had RP Singh not bowled that last-ball no-ball). The highest total at the ground is Super Kings' 200 against Knight Riders, while on eight occasions teams have scored 160 or more.

On the other hand, the surfaces in Hyderabad, Pune and Delhi have generally been difficult for run-scoring. The Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad, has been the toughest for scoring, with an average run rate of 6.41: the highest score here by a team batting first this season is 130. Similarly the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune has seen plenty of low scores too, with only one 150-plus total in four attempts by the team batting first. The venue has also witnessed the lowest score by a team batting first in this tournament - the home team scored 99 for 9 against Kings XI Punjab.

Of the 42 results achieved till May 1 (excluding the two games which went into the Super Over), 19 have been won by the team batting first, and 23 by the side chasing. As mentioned earlier, the Wankhede Stadium is the only one that has favoured the team batting first, while Kolkata has the most skewed results in favour of the side chasing.

The vagaries of the pitches and conditions have also had a bearing on the kind of bowlers who have succeeded at different venues. The pitch that has most consistently aided seam and swing bowling this season has been the one at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Rajasthan Royals, the home team, have regularly played with a pace-centric attack to exploit the pace and bounce available on the surface. Of the 59 wickets that have fallen to bowlers here, pace- or medium-pace bowlers have accounted for 51, a percentage of 86.44, at a superb average of 21.90. The only other regular venue where pace has accounted for more than 80% of the wickets is Bangalore, where 52 out of 62 have gone to the quicker bowlers, though they've also leaked more than eight per over.

At most of the other venues spin has contributed a fair share of wickets. At the Eden Gardens, for instance, the slow pitch has given spinners plenty of opportunities, and they have taken 25 wickets - almost as many as the pace bowlers - at an economy rate of 6.89. Similarly, in Chennai too spinners have enjoyed success at an excellent economy rate, though their percentage of wickets taken isn't quite as high.

At six of the ten venues, spinners have conceded less than seven runs to the over, which suggests that most of the pitches in the IPL have been slightly slow, and lack of pace on the ball has been a good option to control the runs. The only venue where spinners have a poorer economy rate than the faster bowlers is in Mohali, and even there the difference is marginal. In Jaipur too the difference in economy rates is negligible, while in Hyderabad the spinners have been at their most miserly, going at less than six per over.

Overall this year, spinners have outperformed seamers both in terms of average and economy rate, though they have taken fewer wickets. The difference in average is negligible, but spinners have been far more economical, giving away almost one run fewer per over than the quicker bowlers.