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Top CPL bowlers in each phase

Last updated on 13 Aug 2020 | 10:33 AM
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Top CPL bowlers in each phase

A statistical analysis of the most impactful CPL bowlers across every phase of a T20 innings

In the initial years of T20 cricket, we can recall the use of Samuel Badree in the first six overs. He often bowled his quota of overs in one go. This is one of the initial examples of a specialist role in T20 bowling.

This was one of the trendsetters in thinking out of the box and developing specialists across phases. As the game evolved into increased use of statistics and match-ups, the role of specialists became more important.

Bowlers across each phase of the innings – Powerplay (Overs 1-6), Middle-Overs (7-15) and Death Overs (16-20) – have different roles and thus need different skillsets. Let us dive into the most impactful bowlers across each of these phases.

Powerplay (Overs 1-6)

For rewarding consistency, we assessed bowlers with a minimum 30 overs in overs 1 to 6. Let us first look at how these bowlers stand on economy and balls per wicket record in this phase-

One bowler that stands out here is Veerasammy Permaul who edges ahead on both economy and bowling strike-rate. Sunil Narine has an exceptional economy rate of 4.9 in this phase but a high balls per wicket record of 28.3. The case of Oshane Thomas is opposite to Narine’s. He takes a wicket every 18 balls in this phase but has a high economy rate of 8.6.

To further analyse how far ahead the top-15 bowlers are on the two parameters from an average value, let us look at where they stand at a deviation from mean economy and strike-rate. This helps us differentiate music from noise, providing a clear picture to identify the bowlers whose economy and strike-rate are – 1) better than the mean values; 2) closer to the mean value; 3) further away from the mean value.

As a further context, the more negative the value of deviation for a particular parameter, the better is the bowler’s performance than the average value. E.g. Cottrell’s deviation from mean strike-rate of a negative 7.3 implies that his wicket-taking ability is better by that many bowls per wicket from the average value. Thomas’s deviation from the mean economy of a positive 1.5 implies that his economy his higher than the average value by that much.

While doing a similar analysis for IPL, we observed that taking wickets in the first six overs contributed more to victory than keeping the runs down. In the case of CPL, both carry equal weightage.  We can assume that in CPL, fall of a few early wickets does not affect the flow of runs as much as it does in the IPL

Based on this assessment, these are the bowlers that occupy the top spots-

An economy rate of 5.7 to go with 20.1 balls per wicket puts Permaul at the pole position. Each of Cottrell, Ryad Emrit and Fiedel Edwards have an economy of under six and a bowling strike-rate of under 20. Sohail Tanvir's exceptional economy rate of 5.5 to go with a healthy 22.8 balls per wicket propels him to number five.

Middle Overs (7-15) 

The criteria for this phase is a minimum of 40 overs.  Let us first look at an overview of bowlers that fit into this criteria-


It is not a surprise that this phase is dominated by spinners. Imran Tahir is a clear standout on both parameters. Unlike the powerplay, Narine fits into the fold of good performance on both parameters in this phase.

Dwayne Bravo is a wicket-taker but is not able to keep the runs down. Andre Russell struggles on both parameters.

Let us look at where the top-15 bowlers stand at a deviation from mean economy and strike-rate.


Most of the top bowlers perform better than the average on both parameters. A few like Adam Zampa and Darren Sammy are wicket-takers but struggle on the economy.

Similar to what we observed in the IPL, both economy and bowling strike-rate carry equal weightage in this phase. Here is a detailed look at the top-5 CPL bowlers in this phase-

Tahir tops the charts in middle-overs with an economy rate of 5.7 and a bowling strike-rate of 16.6. Among his cohort, Tabraiz Shamsi has the highest balls per wicket record of 14.5 on the middle-overs. Shakib Al Hasan and Kevon Cooper have an economy of under seven and a strike-rate of under 16 in this phase. At number five, Narine has the best economy rate of 5.1 in this phase

Death Overs (16-20) 

There a lot of churn in this phase. There are only 19 bowlers with a minimum of 20 CPL overs in this phase. Let us first look at these bowlers-

Like what we saw in the other two phases, there a few standouts on the death overs. There is a turn in fortune for Russell who now finds himself in the best bracket in overs 16-20. 

Raymon Reifer finds himself among the wicket-takers while Kieron Pollard and Kesrick Williams stand out on both parameters.

Let us look at where the top-15 death over specialists in CPL stand at a deviation from mean economy and balls per wicket-


Our analysis suggests that the winning teams in CPL take wickets in the death overs. It is on the same level of importance as keeping the runs down in CPL. This is different from what we saw in the IPL where the winnings team were more adept at controlling runs at the death rather than taking wickets.

Thus, the top CPL bowlers at the death are the ones with a better bowling strike-rate from average. Here are the top-5 death over specialists in CPL-

An envious bowling strike-rate of 8.4 at the death puts Kieron Pollard at the top of the list of death bowlers in CPL. Krishmar Santokie is behind him with an economy of 9.2 and a strike-rate of 9.8 at the death. Refier has the second-best balls per wicket record of 8.5. Russell and Williams with a strike-rate of around nine and an economy of around 10.5 occupy the final two spots.

With less then a week to go for this year’s edition, it will interesting to see if these bowlers continue to be the masters of their phase. 

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