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IPL 2023 Trends: Spin acing pace, uncapped batters on charge and a lot more

article_imageTRENDS ANALYSIS
Last updated on 10 Apr 2023 | 01:04 PM
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IPL 2023 Trends: Spin acing pace, uncapped batters on charge and a lot more

In this space, we analyze various trends from the first 14 games of the ongoing IPL season

Spin > Pace

New season, fresh pitches. It is the fast bowlers who generally enjoy the start of the season. And as the season progresses, the spinners come into play with wear and tear on the surfaces. 

However, the 2023 IPL season has been different so far. The spinners are ruling the roost already. In the first 14 games thus far, the spinners average 20.3 runs per wicket as compared to 32.6 for the pacers. The huge difference of over 12 runs per wicket is enough to establish the dominance of the slower bowlers in the competition. 

Compare these numbers with that of the previous season. The spinners in the first 14 games of IPL 2022 were picking a wicket every 29.4 runs and 23.57 balls. The pacers were better in both regards - averaging 26.5 and striking at 17.7. 

Spinners have also bowled a lot more - delivering 205.5 overs in these 14 matches as compared to 184.4 overs in the first 14 matches of IPL 2022.

Surprisingly, only Lucknow’s Ekana Stadium and Chepauk have offered conditions clearly in favor of spinners. The most surprising was Bangalore’s batting debacle in Eden Gardens. They lost nine wickets to spin for only 61 runs. The next day, batting first, Hyderabad lost six wickets for 65 runs to spin in contrasting conditions. The two innings combined to see 15 wickets fall to spin for only 126 runs. 

There have been four spinners winning the player-of-the-match award already - Rashid Khan, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya. 

Does it have to do something with the pitches? Or the spinners are simply outbowling their pace counterparts? At present, it seems to be the latter. 

Opting to bowl first does not guarantee success anymore

In a common theme from the previous years of IPL, opting to bowl first remains the go-to choice for most skippers. At the 14-game mark in the 2022 season, no captain had opted to bat first after winning the toss. It proved to be fruitful nine times, constituting a win percentage of 64.2 for the chasing sides. However, the whole tournament was staged in Mumbai, a city that supports surfaces with true bounce for the entirety of the match. The change in conditions were minimal.

Things are a lot different in 2023. The venues, for example, are scattered throughout the country. Different surfaces demand different tactics but the skippers have opted to play safe, choosing to bowl 12 out of 14 times. Even the home captains are opting to bowl despite good batting surfaces on offer. 

Unlike last year, the win percentage after winning the toss and bowling first is only 41.7%. Fair to say, the toss is no more the boss unless the teams are more proactive in assessing conditions rather than following the template of bowling first. 

The punt on lower-order batters

A few teams have been keen on using their lower-order batters more proficiently. Mumbai Indians have done it in both of their games thus far. Against Bangalore, they promoted the debutant Nehal Wadhera to number six when Suryakumar Yadav was dismissed in the ninth over. Facing Chennai in their second match, Arshad Khan batted at six, walking out in the ninth over again. Both times, they wanted to delay the entry point of their finisher Tim David. 

Bangalore pulled off something similar versus Kolkata but quite inexplicably so. They promoted Harshal Patel to number five against the raging Kolkata spinners. The move didn’t work as Harshal was out for a second ball duck but expect more teams to promote their lower-order players with some batting expertise to bat out a few overs in between. 

This strategy has been deployed to maintain a LHB-RHB pair, extend the batting line-up, weather the storm when the bowling side is on top or ensure a better entry point for the upcoming batters. Sure, it has happened before but three instances in the first 14 games hint towards a budding trend. 

PS: Rajasthan Royals opened with Ravichandran Ashwin when Jos Buttler was injured but that is a move they have pulled off before quite a few times. 

Uncapped players showing intent

Call it fearlessness or the team management’s instructions but the uncapped batters are going all guns blazing. The Impact Player rule alongside the provision to announce the XIs after the toss has allowed teams to bat deeper than before. While the capped players are still biding their time, the uncapped ones are showing a lot more intent. They are striking at 128.6 in the first 10 balls of their innings as compared to 120.5 from the capped batters. They are also averaging more - 27.6 against 25.9 of the capped players. 

And it has not just been the first 10 balls. The uncapped lot is doing better overall as well. 

In a prime example of the same, Mumbai’s five capped batters combined to score 35 off 50 balls against Bangalore. Meanwhile, their four uncapped batters - Tilak Varma, Nehal Wadhera, Hrithik Shokeen and Arshad Khan - scored 125 runs between them from 70 deliveries. 

It is a trend the fans and the management of all sides would want to blossom further. After all, who doesn’t want to see new stars coming into the picture. 

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