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Feature

WPL trends - Unsettled Giants, low-scoring totals, spin-friendly pitches, and more

The Bengaluru leg of the WPL has generally favoured the bowlers, meaning fewer boundaries and more even contests

RCB players take a lap of honour after their last match in Bengaluru  •  BCCI

RCB players take a lap of honour after their last match in Bengaluru  •  BCCI

With 11 games done, the Bengaluru leg of WPL 2024 is over. Only one team - Gujarat Giants - is yet to get off the mark. Here are the takeaways from the first leg.

Lower totals, fewer boundaries and a barrier that couldn't be breached

Last season in Mumbai, teams managed to score 200 or more four times in the first six games, and 150 was crossed in 11 innings out of 12. Bengaluru didn't prove as high-scoring as you would have expected it to. Royal Challengers Bangalore's 198 on the final day of group fixtures in the first leg proved to be the highest. Until Monday night, Delhi Capitals' 194 against RCB was the highest. It was briefly the only 175-plus score, with 11 innings out of 22 seeing scores of over 150.
This was mainly down to the surfaces. While Mumbai dished out some of the flattest tracks last season, the pitches at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium equally brought the bowlers into play. Some surfaces, like the centre-wicket one, offered swing and bounce while the left-most surface, on which three games were played, offered grip and turn. The boundaries in WPL 2023 had been pulled in a long way, seeing some as short as 42 and 44 meters. This year that distance has been a bit more in favour of the bowlers for a more even contest.
The total scoring rate at the halfway stage last season stood at 8.59 with a batting average of 29.20, and currently for 2024 it is down to 7.95 and 26.24 respectively.

What about the boundaries and individual milestones?

There haven't been as many boundaries as compared to last season. At the halfway mark in WPL 2023, we had seen a total of 2210 boundaries (fours and sixes), which accounted for 67.69% of the total runs scored. After 11 games in this WPL, the total boundaries stand at 1980 accounting for 63.62% of the total runs. The balls-per-boundary ratio has hence risen from 4.67 to 5.50 when compared at the halfway stage of the season.
Even though the overall scoring has been lower this time, the 50-plus scores have been coming at a similar rate compared to last time. In WPL 2023, we saw 31 half-centuries and so far in WPL 2024 we have seen 16. That number has especially seen a rise from the Indian batters who have already struck nine half-centuries compared to the eight they scored in the entire WPL 2023.

RCB rise, same old for the Giants

RCB began 2023 with five losses in a row. At the same stage this year, they've got three wins and are that much closer to the playoffs. Smriti Mandhana's form has played a big part. From going through the inaugural season without a single half-century, she tops the charts - 219 runs at a strike rate of 154.22 - at the halfway mark this time around, including a match-winning 50-ball 80 on Monday night. Ellyse Perry at 3 and Sophie Devine dropping down to the middle order, especially with S Meghana firing, gives them better depth.
As for the Giants, the biggest spenders at the auction, the more things have changed, the more they've remained the same. They're winless after four games and need to win every single game in Delhi to entertain prospects of a playoff berth. They would like runs from the top order, including their captain, Beth Mooney. They've fielded three opening combinations (Mooney-Veda Krishnamurthy, Mooney-Harleen Deol and Mooney-Laura Wolvaardt) in four games, and there has been a general sense of confusion in terms of roles within the setup.

Left is right

Sophie Molineux. Jess Jonassen. Radha Yadav. Sophie Ecclestone. Tanuja Kanwar. Left-arm spinners have found that much grip and control in Bengaluru, translating into wickets by the truckloads. Radha and Ecclestone top the charts with seven wickets apiece, while Kanwar and Jonassen are on six. While Radha is on a comeback trail, having last featured for India at the T20 World Cup last year, Kanwar, uncapped at the international level, has been among the bright lights for the Giants. Australia's Jonassen didn't start early on, until they brought her in for the third game in place of Annabel Sutherland. So far, she has picked up two three-fors and a cameo 36 not out, all in winning causes.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor, Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo