With the IPL 2023 coming to an end on May 29 after a dramatic final, we look at the players who had the most effect on their teams through the lens of ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which is designed to bring out the true value of individual performances in the game of cricket.
Du Plessis edges out Gill
Faf du Plessis
, and not Shubman Gill
, is the most valuable player of the IPL 2023, according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats - an AI-powered tool that considers match context in valuing batting and bowling performances. Du Plessis collected 59.38 Total Impact points per match for his performances - the highest for any player to have played at least seven matches in the season. Gill came second with 56.85 average points.
Not for the first time, Royal Challengers Bangalore's batting was heavily reliant on their top order, and du Plessis was the vital cog with consistent contributions. He made 40 or more runs ten out of the 14 times he batted, with eight of those scores contributing at least 30% of RCB's totals in the match. All these runs came at a decent clip of 153.6.
The Player-of-the-Tournament and the Orange Cap winner Gill was part of a team that had more batters who took up the slack when Gujarat Titans needed them. Apart from Gill, there were five other batters in the Titans line-up who scored 250-plus runs this season. Contributions from other players in the side, or the lack thereof, is one of the inputs that's considered in arriving at pressure on a batter, which directly affects the value of runs scored by them. Smart Stats reckons du Plessis' runs came under more pressure than Gill's. Gill, however, earned 966.40 Total Impact points this season, which was much higher than du Plessis' 831.36
, who was adjudged the Emerging Player of the Season, is at No. 3 followed by Mohammed Siraj
and Axar Patel. Sunrisers Hyderabad's Heinrich Klaasen
missed out on the top five by a whisker with his Total Impact per match being 48.01, a fraction below Axar.
Klaasen's lone hand makes an impact
With SRH's batting unit struggling through most of the season, Klaasen was the standout batter for them, often scoring runs when the team was on the back foot. He batted at No. 5 or lower in eight of his 11 innings in the season, and despite having had to bail out SRH on a few occasions, he struck at 177.1. No other SRH batter who faced over 20 balls had a strike rate in excess of 150. Klaasen's 448 runs in the season were only the 12th most by any batter this season, but his runs were made with little support from the other end. This meant that the Batting Impact per innings Klaasen had in the season was the fourth best after du Plessis, Gill and Jaiswal. Suryakumar Yadav was ranked fifth on this list among batters to have played at least ten innings.
Maxwell makes it count
Much like Klaasen, Glenn Maxwell
was another batter who could have probably had a greater impact had he faced more balls. A solid opening pair in Virat Kohli
and du Plessis meant Maxwell often didn't come in to bat early enough. Seven of his 14 innings in the season started after the tenth over of the innings. He faced only 218 balls this season despite batting at Nos. 3 and 4. There were 26 other batters in the top seven who faced more balls than Maxwell did. However, only a few batters made each ball count as Maxwell did. Among batters to have faced at least 100 balls in the season, Maxwell's Batting Impact per ball of 2.49 was the highest. Klaasen had the second highest Batting Impact per ball at 2.28.
Ajinkya Rahane, who played a few impactful cameos through the season like the 13-ball 27
in the final, is fourth on this ladder ahead of Suryakumar. Nicholas Pooran
, who played a similar hand for Lucknow Super Giants, slots in at No. 3.
Siraj ticks all the boxes
There were eight bowlers who took more wickets than Siraj this IPL, but the RCB pacer overtook all of them to top the Bowling Impact charts. Siraj was his team's spearhead, and RCB largely bowled him when the outcome of the matches wasn't already a forgone conclusion. Siraj consistently delivered in these situations, providing his team with crucial breakthroughs and tight overs.
The 17th over of Super Giants' chase
in Bengaluru serves as a perfect illustration of Siraj's impact with the ball. Chasing 213, Super Giants required just 28 runs from the last four overs, and had the momentum, having scored 93 runs in the previous six overs.
Siraj gave away just four runs in the over and took the wicket of Nicholas Pooran, who had scored 62 runs off just 18 balls until then. Pooran's wicket almost won RCB the game, with Super Giants managing to squeeze out a win only off the last ball of the match with a bye. The three wickets Siraj took in the game had a Smart Wicket value of 5.4.
According to Smart Stats, his 19 wickets this season were worth 26.37 Smart Wickets. Smart Stats considers the importance of each wicket, given the match situation and the quality of the batter, and gives them a value that could be more or less than 1.
- the Purple Cap winner - came second to Siraj in terms of Bowling Impact per match despite taking 28 wickets in the season which were worth 33.96 Smart Wickets. This is the highest value of Smart Wickets for any bowler in any season in the IPL. However, Shami's Smart Economy was 7.91 compared to his actual economy of 8.03. In comparison, Siraj's Smart Economy was far lower at 5.80, which meant that Siraj bowled economically in clutch situations far more often than Shami did. The impact he made through such spells was enough to pass Shami to the pole position.
Piyush Chawla, Nathan Ellis and Varun Chakravarthy round up the top five in terms of Bowling Impact per match among those who bowled in at least seven matches.
CSK punched above their weight, yet again
In yet another season, Chennai Super Kings were more than the sum of their parts. Only one of their players made it to the top ten of the most valuable player ranks in terms of Total Impact points earned per match. Ravindra Jadeja
was CSK's highest-ranked player at No.9 on this list. Ruturaj Gaikwad was the only other player who made it to the top 20. Titans had three players and Mumbai Indians had four. RCB too had four in the top 20, including two in the top five. Their failure to make it to the playoffs underlined the fact that you need more than a few big stars to win the IPL.
Shiva Jayaraman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo @shiva_cricinfo