New Zealand were extremely unlucky not just in the final of the 2019 World Cup - they might have also been one of the unluckiest teams of the tournament, according to ESPNcricinfo's Luck Index. The Luck Index algorithm attempts to attach a run impact to every action of play in a game that has an element of fortuitousness associated with it. The bigger the run impact of the action, the higher the likely influence of the event on the result of the game. Events involving dismissals, or the possibility of them occurring, usually have high run impacts.
For instance, in the final, a few events could well have swung the result of the match in favour of New Zealand if their outcomes were different - the most obvious one was the overthrow boundary in the final over of the chase that ricocheted off Ben Stokes' bat. Your perception of Stokes' ability to get seven runs off the final two balls - for that would have been the ask had an extra four runs not been scored due to the ricochet - from Trent Boult depends on which team you were supporting, but the result of the match, had the event not happened, is anybody's guess. There is a degree of uncertainty attached to it; this uncertainty is relatively small as the run impact of the luck event is relatively large.
The events that make a bigger impact on the outcome of the match are usually those that involve a batsman getting out or surviving a chance. One such event occurred in the match between India and Bangladesh when Tamim Iqbal dropped Rohit Sharma when he was on 8 off 11 deliveries. Rohit went on to score 104 off 92 balls in the match. Luck Index estimates that drop cost Bangladesh 47 runs: India would have managed a total of 267 instead of the 314 they scored, had the catch been taken. This is estimated by simulating India's innings assuming Rohit had got out.
Bangladesh could have stood better chances of chasing down 268 instead of 315. Things might have panned out differently in the match: India would have been a lot more aggressive in defense of their total, but Bangladesh wouldn't have been chasing a 300-plus total in a World Cup.
And that is where New Zealand really suffered in comparison to other teams in the tournament. They were on the right side of such lucky breaks on fewer occasions than their opposition. If we consider only the events that created a wicket opportunity (whether they resulted in a wicket or should have), and thus were likely to have a clear-cut impact on the result of the game, then New Zealand had a net event count of minus nine in this World Cup. This means over the course of the tournament their opposition benefited from nine more reprieves to their batsmen than New Zealand did. West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh each benefited by eight more events than their opposition.
Interestingly England were the second-most unlucky team of the tournament by this measure. They had a net of seven events going against them. The fact that they made it to the final in spite of the rub of the green going against them through the league phase of the tournament shows that a place in the final at Lord's on the 14th was well deserved.
Not least also because England made use of whatever good fortune came their way. The table below shows the aggregate team-wise run impact of the reprieves to the batsmen in the tournament. England are second only to India in those terms, having capitalised on those events to score 199 runs more than they would have scored otherwise. South Africa, on the other hand, didn't capitalise on whatever luck came their way: their batsmen made their reprieves count for only 28 additional runs.
The chanciest event of this World Cup in that sense was the drop of Eoin Morgan by Dawlat Zadran off Rashid Khan. Morgan could have been dismissed for 28 off 25 balls had that catch been taken. Instead, he went on to score 148 off 71 balls. He plundered 116 runs off the next 46 balls he faced in that match.
While Morgan added 120 runs to his kitty because of the drop, England's margin of benefit is not the full 120 runs, as they had batsmen to follow who could have made use of the balls faced by Morgan to make some runs themselves. This is estimated by Luck Index to be 44 runs. The algorithm considers the strength of the England line-up still to come, and the Afghanistan bowlers left to bowl in the match.
But which batsman added the most runs to his own account after getting reprieves? It comes as no surprise for those who followed the tournament that India's Rohit Sharma is the answer to this question. He was reprieved on eight separate occasions by way of dropped catches and missed run-outs in this World Cup. However, he made his luck count by getting five hundreds in the series - the most any batsman has got in any World Cup. He managed to score as many as 474 runs out of his series aggregate of 648 after he got lucky breaks. That is not to say that his runs weren't well earned. You can get lucky all you want but it will amount to nothing if you don't make use of that luck. Rohit did, as apposed to someone like Chris Gayle, who got just one fewer reprieve but made his luck count for much less, scoring just 81 more than what he would have scored without those reprieves.
Wahab Riaz heads the list of bowlers to have been on the wrong side of net lucky breaks - by way of dropped catches and umpire's calls going in favour of batsmen. Umpire's calls and close catch calls going against batsmen are considered to be lucky events for the bowlers. Not surprisingly, that list features at the top some of the best bowlers on display in the tournament, including Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes and Kagiso Rabada.
Luck Index 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.