A glimpse at team data from the last three seasons gives some interesting insight into the drivers for team success in the Indian Premier League.
Only one team – Mumbai Indians in 2017 – has ended the season winning more than 70% of their matches, and only CSK (2018), Rising Pune (2017) and Sunrisers (2016) ended the tournament winning in excess of 60%. This illustrates how hard it is for a team to be dominant in the tournament, and if a team is winning 60% of your matches, it is doing very well indeed.
Generally speaking, more successful teams had a tighter squad, with teams qualifying from the group stages using 19.17 players on average, compared to the 19.92 players used by teams who didn’t qualify – only RCB (22 players used in 2018) used more than 20 players, while many of the basement dwellers have done so. In fact, RCB have never used fewer than 20 players in the last three years, indicating that former coach Daniel Vettori and captain Virat Kohli may have had trouble in deciding their best team on a regular basis.
As is often the case in T20 leagues, there’s the same clear drivers towards tournament success. Teams that qualified from the group stages averaged around 3.5 runs per wicket higher than teams who failed to qualify (around 28.5 compared to 25) and only Gujarat Lions (2016) and Rajasthan Royals (2018) qualified with a team batting average below 24.99. Only Rising Pune Supergiant (2016) and Delhi Daredevils (2018) failed to qualify with a team batting average greater than 27, so being able to average 27+ as a team with the bat is a great marker for tournament success.
However, batting strike rates had less impact and don’t appear to be as much of a driver towards team success in the IPL. Various teams qualified from the group stages with a strike rate of 130 or below, and teams who qualified in the last three years only struck at around 2.5 runs per 100 balls more than teams who failed to qualify. There also was little in the way of discernible difference for team boundary percentages with the bat between teams who qualified and who did failed to do so. Are teams seduced by attacking batsmen too much? It’s a possibility, for sure.
Teams who benefit from having an array of quality bowlers at their disposal tend to do very well in T20 tournaments, and the IPL is no different. Of the teams who qualified in the last three years, only Gujarat (2016 – their success was surely an outlier based on their batting data too) had a team bowling average over 30.63, while only three teams who failed to qualify had a bowling average below 30 (Mumbai Indians in 2018, Rising Pune Supergiant 2016 and Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2017) – it would appear that having a team bowling average below the 30 mark in the IPL is a virtual pre-requisite for team success, and teams whose roster makes this unlikely are likely to struggle.
There was also a marked difference in the bowling strike rate between qualifying and non-qualifying teams as well, with qualifying teams striking at around 2.5 balls per wicket fewer. Only the aforementioned Gujarat team in 2016 qualified from the group stages with a bowling strike rate over 22.04.
Having a number of quality domestic players in squads also has historically made a huge difference to team success in the IPL, with qualifying teams having around a five run advantage in their domestic player bowling average compared to teams who didn’t – the vast majority of teams who failed to qualify had domestic bowling averages in excess of 30 runs per wicket, and often considerably more.
So then – the template is pretty clear. Teams who possess a solid batting line-up (which doesn’t necessarily need to be overly spectacular), with quality bowlers, and in particular, quality domestic bowlers, are likely to perform very well in the Indian Premier League, based on historical data.
Who does this suit?
Teams who possess a solid and stable batting line up, based on my algorithm-driven expected data, are as follows: Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad. To a lesser extent, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians also fit the bill here.
Teams who possess above-average bowlers, based on my algorithm-driven expected data, are as follows: Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad. If Lungi Ngidi hadn’t pulled out of the tournament with injury, Chennai Super Kings could also be considered.
Given this, it’s difficult to make a case for tournament success for Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore, who don’t impress in either area.
It’s also worth mentioning that teams will be at the mercy of players international commitments, with the following deadlines known for recall dates for players for their various countries:-
Bangladesh (April 15th), England (April 25th), Australia (May 2nd), Sri Lanka (May 6th), South Africa (May 10th).
Afghanistan are yet to announce their recall dates, while New Zealand and West Indies have no cut-off.
This will also greatly impact on teams, with Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad looking likely to be particularly affected later in the competition.
Thank you for reading