One allrounder takes 3 for 7 and hits 26 off 20, while other takes 2 for 24 and tonks a 6-ball 13. Who would be your Player of the Match? The former? Well, that indeed was the official choice for the award in the game between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. That performance had come from Moeen Ali, and the latter, were Sam Curran's stats in the match.
However, ESPNcricinfo's Smarts Stats rates that Curran's impact on the match was higher than Ali's. Smarts Stats not only takes into account the quality of the batters dismissed, but also the situation in which a bowler bowls, among other things, to arrive at an impact value for the bowling performance. The match situation is quantified and fed into the calculations through ESPNcricinfo's Forecaster tool, according to which, Rajasthan Royals' chances of winning the match were at their highest during the Powerplay. Curran sent down three overs during that period and took out Royals' captain Sanju Samson, in addition to dismissing Manan Vohra. Curran's two wickets were worth 3.04 Smart Wickets, including Samson's wicket which was valued at 1.71.
But surely the wickets taken by Ali - of David Miller, Chris Morris and Riyan Parag - were bigger than those taken by Curran? That's where the Smart Stats objectively looks at the 'context'. When Jos Buttler got out to Ravindra Jadeja in the 12th over, Royals were already facing an uphill task: they needed 102 runs off 54 deliveries. Historical data in major leagues and internationals between top teams pegs the win probability of the chasing team at 30%. Smart Stats further adjusts this win probability for the batting quality left and the bowling quality it is up against in the current match. It pegged Royals' chances at only 19% at the start of the 12th over. By the time Ali took Miller's wicket in the next over Royals' chances of winning had dropped to single digits. Ali twin strike in his next over - that of Morris and Parag - came at a time when the match was lost, statistically at least, according to the Forecaster. That's why Ali's three wickets were worth only 1.85 Smart Wickets.
Curran seemingly was less economical than Ali, but he bowled three over upfront, conceding only 12 runs from this first three overs. By the time he bowled his last over - an expensive one, off which he conceded 12 runs - Super Kings had already won the match. Overall, Curran's impact with the ball earned him 66.7 impact points, while Ali's earned 34.7 points. Ali managed to bridge some gap through his efforts with the bat - his 26 runs were worth 31.7 impact points, while Curran's cameo was worth 21.5 - but Curran's exploits with the ball meant that he was the Smart Stats player of the match.