Why Pollard’s 31-ball 83 is the top innings of IPL 2019

Keiron Pollard (InsideSport photo)
Keiron Pollard (InsideSport photo)

Four centuries have been scored in IPL 2019 so far, but the best batting performance of the tournament is not one of those hundreds. It is, instead, Kieron Pollard’s scorching 31-ball 83 against Kings XI Punjab. This is according to ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats, which ranks each innings not only on the basis of runs and strike rate, but also takes into account the context of the game and the pressure on the batsman. Pollard’s 83 – which helped Mumbai Indians steal a last-ball win chasing 198 – was worth 178.5 impact points, nine more than the second-placed Jonny Bairstow’s innings of 114.

When Pollard came in to bat in the eighth over, Mumbai Indians required 142 to win in 12.2 overs, which means the asking rate was 11.5 per over. Over the next 71 balls, Pollard scored at 16 runs per over, while the other batsmen scored 43 off 40 (6.45 runs per over). That shows Pollard single-handedly soaked up the pressure and kept the asking rate under control, with little support from the others.

In second place is Bairstow’s 114 off 56 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, which is the highest score of the tournament so far. Both Bairstow and David Warner made hundreds in that innings, but Bairstow gets extra points for the high strike rate and also because he took charge of the middle overs and gave the innings the impetus which ensured they finished with a huge total. Between overs 8.1 and 16, Bairstow slammed 78 off 30 balls (strike rate 260), which eventually lifted Sunrisers to 231.

Rishabh Pant’s 27-ball unbeaten 78 against Mumbai Indians is in third place. His strike rate of 289 is the highest for an innings of 20-plus balls this season. In this match, he came in after 13 overs, and scored 78 off 27, while the other batsmen together managed 19 off 15.

Sanju Samson’s 55-ball unbeaten 102, which incidentally came in a losing cause against Sunrisers, is in fourth place followed by Prithvi Shaw’s 99 off 55 ballsagainst Kolkata Knight Riders. Warner’s century is in 11th place with an impact score of 112.8, while KL Rahul’s 100 is 14th, scoring 104.1.

Among the bowlers, Alzarri Joseph’s record-breaking six-wicket haul isn’t at the top spot. That honour goes to Mohammad Nabi’s 4 for 11 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Nabi’s four victims were Parthiv Patel (11), AB de Villiers (1), Shimron Hetmyer (9) and Shivam Dube (5); apart from dismissing four of the top six, Nabi also got them out early in their innings, which fetched him extra points. His four wickets in that innings were actually worth 4.7 Smart Wickets.

The score for a bowling performance is calculated by taking into account the impact of wickets taken – in terms of the runs the batsman could have scored had he not been dismissed then – and the Smart Economy, which takes into account which overs the bowler bowled. In this case, Nabi bowled three within the Powerplay and took three wickets in those overs – including that of de Villiers – effectively finishing off the game within the Powerplay itself.

Imran Tahir’s 4 for 27 against Kolkata Knight Riders is in second place, largely because he dismissed four proper batsmen – Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, and Andre Russell, and two of them – Uthappa and Russell – were dismissed very early in their innings.

Shreyas Gopal’s 3 for 12 is next in the list, as much for a stunning economy rate as the batsmen dismissed – Kohli, de Villiers and Hetmyer, which gave him a wicket value of 4.04. Deepak Chahar’s 3 for 20 against Kolkata Knight Riders and Khaleel Ahmed’s 3 for 30 against Delhi Capitals rounds off the top five.

Joseph’s 6 for 12 is in eighth place with a score of 94.5, a relatively lower value because three of his dismissals were of lower-order batsmen when the contest was more-or-less sealed, and because it was an extremely low-scoring game as well.

Smart Stats is a part of Superstats, a new set of metrics by ESPNcricinfo to tell more enriching and insightful numbers-based stories. (ESPNCricinfo)



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