'Home advantage' is a term that is well understood in almost every sport. For a person who is not a sports buff, the hoo-haa around the home advantage may sometimes be difficult to comprehend, especially in relation to sports such as football that are played on largely the same-sized field across the world, with minimal variables, apart from the crowds. In cricket the home advantage is further exaggerated on account of the multiple variables that are involved. Home captains benefit from knowledge of the nature of the pitch, the angles on the ground (for field placements), the slopes and winds (to decide which end would suit a certain bowler), the speed of the outfield etc.
In the IPL, over the seasons, we have seen certain tracks often being in line with the character of the home teams - for example, Eden Gardens' slow tracks to support their spinners and Mohali's pitches sporting a green tinge to aid their pacers. This despite the fact that conditions don't vary greatly because, unlike in international cricket, all IPL matches are played in one country, usually India. Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings have the best home records in the IPL. Royals win 72% of their matches at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur while Super Kings win 67% of their matches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. This year, though, Royals have been deprived of their home advantage because of the inability of the Rajasthan Cricket Association to acquire requisite state government clearances. Chepauk's exclusion is on similar lines, with the Tamil Nadu Municipal Corporation not giving a no-objection certificate to three new stands at the stadium, which the corporation argues are unlawfully constructed.
Below is a table setting out the IPL records of the eight franchises at their primary home venues. While Chennai and Rajasthan have the best home records, Delhi are by far the worst. Delhi Daredevils are the only team to have a win percentage of less than 50 at home. Chennai's highest score at Chepauk - 246 - is the best for any team at its home venue.
Even in terms of runs per over (RPO) and runs per wicket (RPW), Royals and Super Kings are among the best teams at home. Royals score an average of 33.27 RPW in Jaipur, while Super Kings score 31.39 RPW in Chennai. No other IPL franchise scores more than 28 RPW at home. Super Kings' scores at the rate of 8.38 RPO at Chennai, again the best for any team. Unfortunately, neither team will be able to better any of those records in this year's IPL, with Super Kings playing their 'home' games in Ranchi while Royals will be playing theirs in Ahmadabad. Despite the geographical disconnect, Super Kings are likely to receive the backing of the Ranchi crowds thanks to the fact that their captain MS Dhoni hails from there. Rajasthan, however, have no such consolation.
There have been some even more absurd match allotments this year, with the Cuttack games topping the list. Cuttack's Barabati Stadium was declared the adopted home of the Kings XI Punjab for two games, and was then also declared Kolkata Knight Riders' home venue, replacing Eden Gardens, for the game on May 14. There is likely to be some politics
associated with the matches being shifted to Ranchi and Cuttack. Either way, imagine how confused the Cuttack crowds will be when they are expected to jeer Knight Riders in one match (Kings XI Punjab v Knight Riders) and cheer them in the next (Knight Riders v Mumbai Indians).
After Super Kings and Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians have the next best home records in the IPL. While Sunrisers are a young franchise which has only played nine games at home (the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Uppal), Mumbai have been impressive off late. Out of the first 20 games that they played at the Wankhede Stadium, they won ten and lost ten. Subsequently, Mumbai had a 10-match winning streak at the Wankhede, the best home streak for any IPL team. The difference was essentially the batting - in the first 20 games at the Wankhede, Mumbai's RPW was 23.10 and their batsmen scored at a strike rate of 118.84. During the 10-match winning streak, Mumbai's RPW was 33.72 and the batsmen scored at a strike rate of 140.85. The record streak was ended by Super Kings on 10 May, when they managed to win their first IPL game at the Wankhede. They will have to pull off more of these, because they no longer have a 'home advantage' to fall back on.