Glenn Maxwell and Avesh Khan take Smart Stats honours

Asia's Tech News Daily

© BCCI Leaping high over the rest of the field – Glenn Maxwell © BCCI

Glenn Maxwell was the MVP of IPL 2021, according to ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats. Maxwell, who was bought for INR 14.25 crores in the 2021auction by Royal Challengers Bangalore, put together a stellar performance with the bat and exceeded everyone’s expectations. It was not just about the 513 runs he scored at a strike rate of 144.10 in the season, but the manner and the difficult conditions in which he scored them. While most players found it hard on the dry pitches at Chepauk and Sharjah, Maxwell struck at 149.15 and 138.33 respectively on these grounds. Maxwell not only aced the conditions but was also the second best player of spin in the tournament. He scored 264 runs from 171 balls at a strike rate of 154.38 and an average of 52.8 against spin. Ruturaj Gaikwad was marginally ahead of him. Maxwell’s impact was not limited to strike rates and averages. He scored when others struggled and ensured that the conditions were taken out of the equation.

However, these numbers don’t do full justice to his performances this season. For that, we need to look at Smart Stats, which looks at every batting and bowling performance through the prism of match context, and the pressure on the batsman and bowler at each delivery when they batted or bowled. Maxwell’s 513 runs were worth 624 runs. Coming in at 9 for 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders in Chepauk, Maxwell smashed 78 off 49 to help his team reach 204. This was against a bowling attack that was very spin heavy. Similarly, on another very tough pitch at Sharjah against Punjab Kings, Maxwell hit 57 off 33 to help Royal Challengers post a competitive total. On several occasions, Maxwell had to soak up the pressure of slow run rates to help his team score above par.

© BCCI KL Rahul had to shoulder a lot of Punjab Kings’ burden © BCCI

Maxwell’s match impact of 46.53 is marginally ahead of the second placed KL Rahul, who had a match impact score of 46.23 (for a minimum of 11 matches played, to account for those who had done well in India and the UAE). Rahul once again was Mr. Dependable for Punjab. He scored 626 runs from just 13 matches. The reason Rahul’s impact was so high is because barring his opening partner Mayank Agarwal, there were not many other contributors with the bat for his team. Rahul often played the anchor’s role for Punjab; in several innings, he scored at a conservative pace due to the middle order’s failures.

There is little to separate the rest in the list. Rashid Khan, Avesh Khan and Prithvi Shaw complete the top five. The Super Kings opening batters – Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis were eighth and ninth respectively in match impact. The reason for their lower impact compared to Rahul was mainly due to the fact that both Gaikwad and du Plessis had great support through the batting order.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Cricinfo’s Purple Cap

The list of bowlers with the highest Smart Wickets is different from the list of top wicket-takers, because Smart Wickets takes into account the quality of batter dismissed, his score at the time of dismissal, and the match context at that point. Taking all those factors into account, Avesh, who is second on the wicket takers list with 24 wickets, tops the Smart Wickets tally with an aggregate of 31.5. Harshal Patel, who was the tournament’s Purple Cap winner with 32 wickets, is marginally behind with 30.7 Smart Wickets. The main reason Avesh’s wickets were valued higher than Harshal’s is because Avesh took wickets of better batters, when the match was still in the balance. While 25% of Harshal’s wickets were of lower-order batters (Nos. 8 to 11), the figure for Avesh was just 16%. Of the 24 wickets Avesh took, 12 were of the top four batters, including eight dismissals of openers. Avesh also took eight and six wickets respectively in the middle overs and the powerplay, while conceding runs at just 6.5 and 6.8 in those two phases. Harshal’s late wickets were crucial on some occasions, but others came when the match result was only a formality. These added to the tally for conventional wickets, but don’t add a lot to the Smart Wickets count.

One of the bowlers who struck crucial blows was Shardul Thakur. He took 21 wickets, but they were worth 26 Smart Wickets. His scalps included Shikhar Dhawan, Venkatesh Iyer (twice), Andre Russell, AB de Villiers, Mayank Agarwal and Sanju Samson, to name a few. Most of his dismissals involved either breaking a partnership, or getting a set batter out. Because Smart Wickets takes into account the quality of the batter and the score at which they were dismissed – getting a good batsman out early before he can inflict any damage fetches higher points.

© BCCI Avesh Khan celebrates © BCCI

Best Match Performance

While Maxwell and Avesh took pole positions in terms of most valuable player and the best bowler, the match-wise top impact position was dominated by all-rounders. Kieron Pollard‘s outstanding all-round show against Chennai Super Kings took the top spot. Pollard took 2 for 12 in two overs, and scored an unbeaten 87 runs from 34 deliveries in the game. He came in to bat in the 10th over when the score was 81 for 3, and helped win the match on the last ball, chasing a mammoth 218. Pollard smashed eight sixes and six fours. Ravindra Jadeja‘s brilliantall-round show against Royal Challengers was in second spot, and Jason Holder‘s 3 for 24 with the ball and 47 from 29 with the bat against Punjab Kings was the third best match performance.

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