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IPL Powerplay Kings: Batting

CricViz analyst Rufus Bullough analyses the most successful teams and individuals in the recent editions of the Indian Premier League.

For any team to be successful in T20 cricket, utilising the first six overs of the game is a must. Whether that is plundering as many boundaries as possible, or making as many inroads as possible with the ball, the initial Powerplay more often than not dictates the flow of the rest of the innings.

The scatter graph below plots IPL teams batting in the Powerplay since 2017. The dotted lines represent the league averages meaning those in the top left score runs quickly but lose wickets often; those in the bottom right (there are none!) score slower than the league average and lose wickets less often than the league average. Those in the top right combine the best of both worlds and those in the bottom left combine the worst of both!

Since the 2017 edition of the IPL, Kolkata have been the fastest scoring side in the Powerplay, scoring at an average run rate of 8.90 runs per over. They however do lose a wicket every 22.3 deliveries in this phase, which comes in well below the tournament average of 25.3 balls since the 2017 edition.

The most effective team by far in the first six overs since 2017 has been Sunrisers Hyderabad who have scored on average at 8.40 runs per over, and lose a wicket every 36 deliveries in the first phase. In a typical match in the last three editions, SRH score 50 runs per wicket lost in the Powerplay, way ahead of the competition, with the next best being Rajasthan Royals who average 41 runs per dismissal in the first six.

Much of the success from SRH has been down to the forging of exceptional opening partnerships. Since the start of the IPL no opening pair have scored more runs than David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan’s 2220 runs, scored at an average of 47.23 runs per dismissal. 646 of them came in their 14 opening partnerships in 2017, passing 50 three times and achieving two 100+ stands.

In 2019 Warner found a new exceptional opening companion in the form of frequent Ashes rival, Jonny Bairstow. In the 2019 season they dominated bowling attacks averaging 79.10 for the first wicket, scoring at 9.84 runs per over. They passed fifty a total of seven times as a pair, converting four of those seven into 100 partnerships. This partnership has the highest average per dismissal of any opening pair in IPL history to have played five or more innings together.

The below graph shows the leading 30 Powerplay run scorers in the competition since 2017. There have been three individual batsmen who have stood out from the rest of the pack whilst batting in the Powerplay in the past three IPL seasons.

The first of which was recently crowned by CricViz as the best T20 player of all time: Sunil Narine. Although his average of 23.96 is not all that impressive compared to some of the other top Powerplay run getters, he brings unparalleled destruction to bowling attacks, scoring at a ludicrous 11.09 runs per over on average in the last three years – 1.19 runs per over faster than the next best.

The next batsman who has really stood out over the past three seasons is Warner, who we have already established as being a part of the two best opening partnerships the IPL has ever seen. Since 2017 he is dismissed every 74 balls he faces in the Powerplay and scores at a very healthy 8.42 runs per over, catapulting his Powerplay average to a colossal 104.33 runs per dismissal.

The third and final standout is Jos Buttler who has had an excellent three years playing for first Mumbai and more recently Rajasthan. He has provided an almost perfect blend of the other two aforementioned batters, with Narine-esque destructive batting ability enabling him to score at 9.90 runs per over, and the infallible temperament of Warner allowing him to occupy the crease for 53 deliveries between dismissals.

Rufus Bullough is an analyst at CricViz, @rufus_cricket

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