A lowdown on Twenty20 internationals

India lift the ICC World Twenty20 trophy at the end of a thrilling final against Pakistan Getty Images

The Twenty20 format is still so new that teams, and players, are still getting used to it. The IPL has been excellent exposure for international players, who still mostly play in formats that are at least 100 overs long. It's been more than four years since Australia and New Zealand played the first 20-over international in Auckland, but during this period only 89 more matches have been played, which is a rather meagre number considering that 660 one-day internationals have taken place in the same duration. Also, 27 of those 89 games were during a two-week period during the World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007.

All of this means teams have had very little practice in this format - Australia and New Zealand have played the most games, and that's only a measly 21 each. India, the world champions, have played 13, of which seven were in the world cup in South Africa. Since then, in about 20 months, they've played five Twenty20 matches, losing three. The best win-loss ratio belongs to Pakistan, with only three defeats in 17 games, but unfortunately for them, one of those losses was against India in the final of the World Twenty20. Since that game, they've won five out of six, though three of those wins were against Bangladesh, Canada and Zimbabwe, three of the lesser teams in world cricket.

The table below compares the runs scored, and the rate of scoring, in Twenty20 internationals before and after 2008. The numbers suggest bowlers have had a better grip on things over the last year and a half, but the stats might be slightly misleading, since 15 of the matches played during this period have involved the non-Test-playing teams, whose batsmen don't have the firepower of the stronger teams. Exclude those teams, and the run-rate goes up to 7.53, at an average of 21.36 runs per wicket.

Click here for the year-wise stats excluding the non-Test-playing teams.
Thanks largely to the World Twenty20, South Africa have hosted three times as many matches as the next-best host country. Canada has hosted a fair share as well, while England's tally will balloon to 33 in less than a month's time. There have been some questions raised about conditions in England at this time of the year, and whether batsmen can slam fours and sixes in conditions that are likely to favour the seamers, but the stats indicate runs have come at a fair clip in previous games here. Among countries that have hosted more than three games, the run-rate in England is the highest. Plus, five of the six games in England have been played in June, which suggests batsmen should do reasonably well this time as well.

World Twenty20 v IPL

South Africa has hosted the most Twenty20 internationals, and over the last month and a half, they also hosted the second edition of the IPL, a tournament in which the bowlers did much better than they had in the first IPL, in India. How do the numbers stack up for the world cup against the IPL? The tables below offer the answers.

The overall numbers are quite similar for both: in the world cup, which consisted of 27 matches, 348 wickets fell at an average of 22.64 and a run-rate of nearly eight per over. The average went up marginally and the run-rate dropped a bit in the 59-game IPL.

The over-wise stats show more discrepancy. The IPL was peculiar for the number of wickets that fell in the opening over - it happened 38 times. In the World Twenty20, only 13 wickets fell in the first over, while the difference was similar in the second over as well - it's probably because teams were trying to be too aggressive too early in their innings and threw it away before getting used to the conditions.

The run-rates are reasonably similar for the first six overs, but what's noticeable is the difference in run-rates in the middle overs. In the IPL, teams averaged 6.72 runs per over in the eight middle overs (from seventh to 14th); in the World Twenty20, the average runs per over during this period was 7.70. There were three overs during this passage when the average rate exceeded eight an over, but during the IPL none of the overs had an average runs-per-over of more than eight.

The middle overs stats also suggest the spinners weren't as effective in the world cup, and that's exactly what the numbers below indicate: spinners had an economy-rate slightly worse than that for the fast bowlers. In the IPL they did much better.