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Stats Analysis

Stats, trivia and trends: on winning tosses, and winning titles at the Men's T20 World Cup

How skewed are the numbers in favour of win-toss-and-bowl this tournament? What about the old adage of "runs on the board in pressure games"?

Aaron Finch has a good record with the coin this World Cup  •  ICC via Getty

Aaron Finch has a good record with the coin this World Cup  •  ICC via Getty

The impact of the toss, and bowling first
The influence of the toss on the match result has been a talking point during the Men's T20 World Cup 2021. A high number of matches have been won by the teams winning the toss - 29 out of 44 (65.9%). Ten of the 12 games hosted in Dubai, the venue for the final, have been won by the side winning the toss.
Between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, 21 of the 27 games have been won by the chasing teams. Under lights, Dubai has heavily favoured the chasing team - they have won all nine games played here in the night.
The teams batting first have either lost early wickets or struggled to time their acceleration, and have ended up with below-par totals. To add to it, the dew and the lack of movement later on at night has meant the margin for error when bowling under lights is minimal - bowling sides have not been able to defend even 12 an over at the death. The seamers have taken only eight wickets in nine games when bowling second under lights, and conceded almost 10 runs an over.
The only team that consistently went against the win-toss-and-bowl trend in this tournament was Afghanistan - they won the toss in all five of their matches, and elected to bowl only against India in Abu Dhabi under lights. If England is known to swear by the bowl-first mantra - they have chosen to bowl the last 24 times they have won T20I tosses - Afghanistan is their mirror image: they have won 28 T20I tosses since the start of 2016 and chosen to bowl only five times.
Finch leading Williamson on the toss count
Looking at the toss results of the two finalists, it is clear that Australia have had more luck with the coin so far: they have won five tosses and won all five of those matches. At the same time, they got a thumping from England after being put in to bat.
New Zealand have won only two tosses, but they were in their two most important matches so far - against India in Super 12s and against England in the semi-finals. They batted first in day games against Scotland and Namibia, while Afghanistan's penchant for batting first played into their hands.
Toss and title winners - trivia from the past
If the toss winners end up as champions on Sunday, it will not be for the first time. Five of the previous six editions of the Men's T20 World Cup were won by the team winning the toss in the final - the only exception was Pakistan in 2009. West Indies won the toss in all six matches in 2016 on the way to their second title. They elected to bowl in all six games and only lost to Afghanistan in a day game.
They also had a good record with the toss in 2012, winning the toss in six of their seven matches. That tournament, hosted by Sri Lanka, offered a big advantage to teams batting first in the business end of the competition. West Indies won the toss in their semi-final and final, and defended their totals quite comfortably.
Inaugural champions India won five tosses in the 2007 edition, including in all three Super 8s games and twice in the knockouts. The 2014 winners, Sri Lanka, won all four matches in which they won the toss, including two in knockouts.

Sampath Bandarupalli is a statistician at ESPNcricinfo