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Smart Stats - A tale of two KL Rahul hundreds

The numbers may look similar, but his knock at the Wankhede was more valuable than the one he scored at the Brabourne

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
KL Rahul celebrated his hundred in typical style  •  BCCI

KL Rahul celebrated his hundred in typical style  •  BCCI

Two matches against Mumbai Indians, two unbeaten innings of 103 (off 60 and 62 balls) after losing the toss and being put in to bat, two victories after successfully defending their totals, two Player-of-the-Match awards.
Looks pretty similar, right? Why, then, did ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats give one innings an impact value of 115.59 points, and the other 167.97? Here's why.
In the first match, at the Brabourne Stadium, KL Rahul's unbeaten 103 came out of a total of 199; his team-mates collectively scored 88 off the remaining 60 balls, at a healthy strike rate of 146.7 compared to Rahul's 171.7. Mumbai Indians made a decent fist of the chase too, scoring 181 and eventually falling 18 runs short. Over the entire match, the batters other than Rahul scored 254 runs off 180 balls, at a strike rate of 141.1. That means Rahul's strike rate was about 1.2 times that of his team-mates and all the other batters in the match.
Compare those numbers with what happened in the more recent game at the Wankhede Stadium, and you will know why there is such a huge difference in impact runs and impact points. In this game, Rahul actually took two more balls to score 103 than he had at the Wankhede, but the other batters contributed nowhere near what they had in that game.
Collectively, the other batters from Lucknow Super Giants scored a mere 57 from 58 balls (excluding extras), at a strike rate of 98.3. That is exactly the strike rate that the Mumbai batters managed too, which means Rahul was by far the outlier in a game where the others didn't even collectively manage to score at a run a ball. In fact, the only other batter whose strike rate exceeded 130 was Tilak Varma, who scored 38 off 27, a strike rate of 140.7.
These numbers clearly show just how exceptional Rahul was at the Wankhede, and how much superior this innings was compared to the one he played at the Brabourne, though that was a match-winning effort too and deservedly won him the Player-of-the-Match award.
The conventional numbers, with no room for context, will not make this distinction. In fact, his strike rate in his first century was marginally higher than the one at the Wankhede. However, the complex algorithm which drives Smart Stats looks specifically at context and pressure on the batters and bowlers at each ball, thus differentiating between two performances which might look very similar at first glance.
That is why Rahul's 103 off 62 at the Wankhede is currently the top-ranked individual performance in a match this season. His 103 off 60 at the Brabourne, on the other hand, only ranks 15th.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats