The Indian Premier League (IPL) has captured the attention of the cricket-loving public in India and beyond like no other T20 tournament. With the best cricketers from the world, barring Pakistan, playing in the tournament and given the high-risk, high-reward nature of T20s, the yearly extravaganza has only continued to gain popularity.
With teams getting a better feel of the rhythm of the T20 game, which favours batsmen, and with new rule changes, the strike rates in the IPL have reached a peak during the 2023 season. In the 40 matches played in the IPL before April 30, 13,994 runs were scored in 1,568 overs for an overall run rate of 8.92, the highest in 16 seasons ( Chart 1). This has broken the record run rate — 8.44 — set in the previous season.
Chart 1 | The chart shows a season’s overall run rate across the 16 seasons of the IPL
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One reason for this jump could be the use of “impact players” — teams can field an extra batsman/ bowler as a one-time replacement. This has helped the situational use of batters in a line-up and further accentuated risk-taking.
By its very nature, T20 favours a high-octane approach by batters. With the reduced number of overs — 20 as opposed to 50 in traditional limited overs cricket — and the number of batters in a line-up being intact with 11, the relative risk of losing wickets while trying to play big shots is much lower in this version of the game, unlike ODIs. Shorter boundaries and generally batter-friendly wickets have also benefited batters over bowlers.
Over time, IPL teams have fielded more and more “power hitters” to address this aspect of the game. The nature of bowling has also changed dramatically with containment being on par with wicket-taking as an imperative for bowlers. This means that “impact batters” are more impactful than bowlers, which means that there is more risk to be taken and more rewards in terms of boundaries.
Spectators have not minded, though. T20s have increased the popularity of the game with the IPL acting as a major money-spinner for teams owning franchises in the league, besides the Board of Control of Cricket in India.
Table 2 | The table shows the boundaries scored (sixes and fours) per game in each IPL season
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In 2023, there have been 43.35 boundaries and 15.55 sixes scored per game. Sixes constituted 35.9% of the total boundaries scored as well, the highest for any season ( Table 2). The chart also shows a near-uniform progression in the boundary-scoring rate over the years with only the 2009 season being an anomaly of sorts. This season was played in South Africa — a country which hosts relatively more bowling-friendly pitches.
South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore, tops the chart with the most sixes (27) in the 2023 edition. Among batters who have faced at least 100 deliveries, West Indian Nicholas Pooran of the Lucknow Super Giants had the highest strike rate of 194.59.
It will take a while for Chris Gayle’s record of 357 sixes overall in 141 innings in the IPL to be broken. Only Rohit Sharma (Mumbai Indians) with 250, M.S. Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings) with 237, Virat Kohli (RCB, 229) and David Warner (Delhi Capitals, 217) have more than 200 sixes overall, among active batters.
Gayle’s West Indian compatriot, Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders) tops the charts with a strike rate of 175.42, followed closely by Punjab Kings’ English import, Liam Livingstone, with 162.92.
The revolution in “power hitting” in T20s has meant that the scoring rate in ODIs has also increased dramatically, but overall run rates (5.31 in 2023) are still low compared to T20s.
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Source: ESPNcricinfo’s Statsguru, Indian Premier League’s (IPL) official website
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