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Numbers justify Tilak’s selection over Rinku Singh

Last updated on 02 Aug 2023 | 08:28 PM
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Numbers justify Tilak’s selection over Rinku Singh

Overall, there is not much to separate between Tilak Varma and Rinku Singh, but as always, stats paint a different picture

On July 5th when India announced its T20I squad for the West Indies series that starts on August 3rd, 2023, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma earned their maiden T20I call-ups. While the decision was met with a lot of applause, there were a few prominent misses, especially among left-handers.

The recent edition of the IPL was productive for Indian left-handed batters. Apart from Tilak and Jaiswal, Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube, Venkatesh Iyer, Sai Sudarshan, Nitish Rana, and Nehal Wadhera were a few noticeable southpaws who were among the runs. 

In this lot, only Wadhera had fewer runs than Tilak. In any case, this was just the first season for Wadhera. The 14 matches he played in the 2023 season will shape his T20 experience. Keeping him aside, what extra did Tilak do to earn a call-up?

Though the Hyderabad batter scored fewer runs than the others, the rate at which he scored those runs helped him pip the others. Tilak scored 343 runs at an average of 42.9 and a staggering strike rate of 164.1, the best among the six batters mentioned above. Tilak was way ahead of these guys in terms of boundary-hitting as well. 

Despite Tilak’s higher impact, Rinku's absence created a commotion. It was bound to happen after Rinku’s heroics in 2023.

In the IPL since 2022, Tilak has 740 runs at an average of 39.95 and a strike rate of 144.5. On the other hand, Rinku scored 648 at a better average (49.5) and a better strike rate (149.3). Going by the overall numbers, the UP batter has the upper hand. But why was Tilak preferred ahead? The answer lies in the details. 

Maturity shown by Tilak while building the innings

A lot is talked about the first ten balls' strike rate in T20s. Despite being exceptional players, the likes of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and a few more struggle in this aspect. 

The same applies to Rinku as well. In the IPL since 2022, he has a strike rate of 122.7 in this phase. The start must be much quicker for a batter who predominantly bats at number four or lower. In comparison, Tilak has a better strike rate (133.5) in this phase.

In the 2023 season, Tilak displayed that he can tee off from the word go. In his first season, Tilak had a strike rate of 107.9 in the first ten balls. He had hit a boundary every 9.1 balls in this phase. However, in 2023, he was striking at 167.01 and had hit a boundary every 4.2 balls. 

On the other hand, Rinku struck at a rate of 131.8 in the 2022 season, but his numbers dropped to 118.2 in the recent season of the IPL. Among Indian batters who scored 100+ runs in the first ten balls in the 2023 edition, Rinku's strike rate was the sixth lowest, and Tilak's was the second-best after Jaiswal (190.4). Regarding balls/boundary ratio, Rinku (7.8) had the third-worst, and Tilak's was the fourth-best.   

Adding on, the KKR batter has a mediocre record after 30 balls. Overall, since 2022, Rinku has had a strike rate of 153.6 after the 30-ball mark. In contrast, Tilak strikes at 208.8 in this phase. These numbers are evident enough to say that Tilak has adapted to the situation better than Rinku.  

Rinku's game against spin needs improvement

The other area of concern for Rinku is his game against spin. In the IPL since 2022, he scored at a strike rate of 109.8 against spin after facing 150+ balls. He has hit a boundary every 10.9 balls. In comparison, he has struck at 173.3 against pacers. 

Among batters, who have faced over 150 deliveries against spinners in this period, only Wriddhiman Saha has a lower strike rate than Rinku. Adding to his woes, his balls/boundary ratio is the joint-worst alongside Kohli (10.9) in this category. 

In the previous season, Rinku faced only 32 balls against spinners, scoring at a run-a-ball. In the follow-up season, his strike rate went up to 112 from 100, which is a non-impactful upgrade. Against the pacers, Rinku struck at 167.1 in 2022 compared to 176.2 in 2023. His game against pace was good, but he managed to better it in 2023. 

This is another area of improvement from Tilak that caught the eye of the selectors.  

In the first season, the Mumbai batter was extremely good against the spinners, striking at 145.1 while maintaining an average of 193 (1 dismissal). But he struggled against the quicks. Seven of his eight dismissals came at an average of 28.9 and a strike rate of 119.5 against the pacers. 

Come the following season, he was a different beast altogether. Tilak smashed 200 runs at a whopping strike rate of 192.3 against the quicks. Among batters who had faced 100+ balls against the pacers in 2023, only Suryakumar Yadav (212.8) had a better strike rate than Tilak. He had hit a six every 6.9 balls, the best by a batter from this category. 

His game against spin saw a slight dip, but it wasn't alarming. From 145.1, the strike rate dropped to 136.2 in 2023 while averaging 35.7. Despite the dip, he was among ten Indians to average 35+ and strike at 135+ after scoring 100+ runs against the tweakers. 

Tilak's game at the backend saw a new high in 2023

Here is improvement number three: In his debut season (2022), Tilak scored at a strike rate of 158.1 in the last five overs after facing 62 balls. In comparison, Rinku struck at 190 in 60 deliveries in this phase. Tilak had hit a boundary every 4.8 balls compared to 3.3 by Rinku. 

In 2023, Tilak unleashed the Beelzebub that was hiding in him. He played almost the same number of deliveries that he had faced in 2022. In fact, a ball lesser. In those 61 balls, Tilak had 126 runs to his name at a monstrous strike rate of 206.6. 

Adding on, MI's left-hander, who was hitting a six every 15.1 balls in 2022, smashed one out of the ground every 6.1 deliveries in 2023. The balls/boundary ratio also came down to 3.1 from 4.8. His balls/six ratio in overs between 16-20 was the fourth best among batters with 30+ balls.

In both the IPLs, Rinku's record in the death overs has been equally good. He had a strike rate of 190 in 2022 compared to 186.7 in 2023. However, he faced 150 balls in this phase in the recent edition. 

Oh! How could we forget? Rinku, the first-innings batter, hasn’t met the expectation. All his heroism came in the second innings, irrespective of the result. In IPL since 2022, the batter averages 27.5 in the first innings (10 innings) compared to 85.6 in the second (11 innings). The strike rates are also poles apart-120.2 compared to 170.2.

That problem wasn't there with Tilak, at least, it wasn't as disconcerting as Rinku. While he averaged 50.2 while striking at 145.4 in the first innings, he scored at 33.8, maintaining a strike rate of 143.9 in the second.

To conclude, both batters have shown improvement. But what separates, or even better, what justifies Tilak's inclusion as the right choice is his ability to enhance his weakness and conquer them. 

Well!! It is an out-of-the-box opinion, but Tilak can bowl. He is a handy off-spinner. Albeit, this is India. Considering how they handled Deepak Hooda, one cannot expect Tilak to bowl. But he is a batter who can bowl.

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