His team didn't make the playoffs, but Andre Russell remained the most valuable player of IPL 2019. According to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which takes into account not just the runs scored and wickets taken, but also the match context and quality of those runs and wickets, Russell notched up a total impact score of 1013, which was well clear of second-placed Hardik Pandya's 757.
This impact score is calculated using a complex algorithm which takes into account multiple factors. For batsmen, this includes the innings run rate and required run rate at every ball when he scored his runs, the quality of opposition bowlers, the wickets in hand and the quality of batsmen to follow after him. For bowlers, it includes the phase in which he bowled, the current/required rate, the quality of batsmen dismissed and the match context when he took his wickets.
Taking these factors into account, Russell had a batting impact score of 868 and a bowling impact score of 145, which adds up to 1013. His batting score itself was higher than Hardik's overall impact. The India allrounder was second with a total score of 757. Both were key members for their teams - Russell scored 510 runs at a strike rate of 204.8, while Pandya made 402 at 191.4 - but Russell made a greater contribution to Knight Riders' batting, scoring 22% of their battting runs, compared to 16% for Pandya.
Rishabh Pant, David Warner and Chris Gayle make up the rest of the top five with impact scores in the 600s. The bowlers aren't left out either, with R Ashwin (584.1) and Shreyas Gopal (566.8) occupying the next two spots.
So impressive was Russell's batting, though, that he finished as the joint-topper in ESPNcricinfo's Smart Runs tally with 684, even though his actual aggregate of 510 was only fifth highest. That is because, as mentioned earlier, Smart Runs takes into account the match context and pressure on the batsman when he scored his runs.
While Russell was at the crease, he scored 62% of the total runs scored - 510 out of 825, including extras, an indication of his domination. Warner, who had the same number of Smart Runs as Russell even though his tournament aggregate was 692, scored 49% of his team's runs while he was at the crease.
Also, because Warner batted at the top of the order with a batsman who scored more quickly than he did, the pressure was relatively lesser on him. His opening partner, Jonny Bairstow, scored 445 runs which converted into 489 Smart Runs, because he was often the more aggressive of the two, and did more of the heavy-lifting early in the innings.
Like Russell, Pant too made some key contributions in high-pressure situations, which is why his 488 runs are converted into 559 Smart Runs. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle round up the top five.
Imran Tahir was the leading wicket-taker and the Purple Cap winner with 26 wickets, but in terms of Smart Wickets, he was pipped by team-mate Deepak Chahar, whose 22 dismissals were worth 27 Smart Wickets.
That is because Smart Wickets takes into the account the following:
- The quality of batsman dismissed, so dismissing Warner fetches more points than dismissing Jasprit Bumrah.
- The score at which a batsman was dismissed, so dismissing Warner for a single-digit score is more rewarding than getting him out for 80.
- The match situation at the time of the dismissal, so dismissing Warner when the match is in the balance is worth more than getting him out when the result of the game is all but decided.
Out of Chahar's 22 wickets, 18 were of batsmen in the top five (including 12 instances when he dismissed the openers), and three more of batsmen at Nos. 6 and 7. He dismissed Prithvi Shaw thrice, Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma twice each, and his other scalps included Warner, Pant, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Chris Lynn.
In 12 out of 22 dismissals, the batsman was dismissed for single-digit scores, while five more dismissals were when the batsman was between 10 and 20. These factors result in his 22 wickets being boosted to 27.
Tahir was exceptional for Chennai Super Kings, but his wicket quality was marginally inferior to that of Chahar. That is also partly because Chahar is a new-ball bowler and hence had more opportunities to bowl at top-order batsmen at the start of their innings. Eighteen of Tahir's 26 wickets were of batsmen in the top five, and his scalps included Shreyas Iyer, Russell, Lynn, Pant, Shubman Gill and Kane Williamson.
The surprise packet among spinners, though, was Shreyas Gopal, whose 20 wickets were worth 24. Out of those 20, 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 Bairstow, Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit, Iyer, Lynn and 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.
Kagiso Rabada took plenty of death-over wickets, which also means some of those wickets were of lower-order batsmen: nine out of 25 were of batsmen at No. 7 or lower. That is why his Smart Wickets tally is slightly lower at 24. Khaleel Ahmed, another bowler who was very impressive through the tournament, comes in at No.5, with his 19 wickets being worth 22 Smart Wickets.