Stats: Legspinners emerge as matchwinners in IPL 2017

21 Apr

We are two weeks down with the tenth incarnation of the Indian Premier League and it’s time certain trends and pattern set to emerge. Teams have preferred to chase more often than ever before and the average runs per over have been on the high despite coming at the cost of average runs per wicket. But the flavor of the season so far has been the emergence of legspinners as match winners.

In a format and tournament heavily loaded in the favor of the willow, it’s highly surprising to see the returns of the legspinners after one-third of the season. They have done virtually everything so far from bowling with the field up in the Powerplays to containing runs in the middle overs. We even saw Amit Mishra nearly succeeding in containing nine runs off the final over in a close run chase.

Out of the nine bowlers with seven or more wickets thus far in this edition, three are leggies – Rashid Khan (9), Imran Tahir (8) and Yuzvendra Chahal (7). Rashid and Tahir occupy the third and the fourth spots while all the other six bowlers in the list are pacers.

After the first 21 matches this edition, the legspinners have taken 43 wickets which is 18.53% of the total wickets. The next best percentage for legspinners for any season after the initial 21 games is 18.02% in the 2015 season. The legspinners take a wicket every 16.09 balls and had a better strike only in 2009 after the first 21 matches (15.75). But they bowled just 42 overs at the same point in 2009 to 115.2 in 2016.

Wickets share after first 21 matches each season

Season Total wkts Leg spinners wickets Per – leg spin Avg SR ER
2008 218 19 8.72% 26.63 19.26 8.30
2009 218 23 10.55% 19.13 18.00 6.38
2010 210 22 10.48% 31.27 25.86 7.25
2011 185 16 8.65% 26.63 23.25 6.87
2012 242 16 6.61% 19.19 15.75 7.31
2013 245 14 5.71% 28.57 26.71 6.42
2014 230 26 11.30% 27.58 21.92 7.55
2015 222 40 18.02% 23.52 17.75 7.95
2016 196 29 14.80% 27.69 20.31 8.18
2017 232 43 18.53% 21.26 16.09 7.92

The share of wickets after initial 21 matches taken by right arm wrist spinners saw a steady decline from 2009 to 2013 before an increase from thereon till now. The decrease was predominantly due to the declining impact of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble and no new talents immediately emerging post their retirement. But since 2014, we have seen a good mix of leggies – both foreign and Indian – in the mix. Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal and Pravin Tambe are the noteworthy names from the Indian contingent with Imran Tahir, Adam Zampa and Rashid Khan being the notable imports.

The biggest impact of the leggies has been undoubtedly in the first six overs. Considering the stats for the first six overs since 2012, the leg spinners have the best numbers in most parameters in 2017 – average (11.46), strike rate (10.23), economy rate (6.72) and balls per boundary (6.33) – all the best in the last six seasons. In terms of dot ball factor, the numbers in 2017 (46.62%) is slightly below 46.96% in 2014.

Avg SR ER Dot% BPB Balls
2017 11.46 10.23 6.72 46.62% 6.33 133
2016 31.00 22.00 8.45 41.82% 4.58 110
2015 27.86 17.29 9.67 36.36% 4.32 121
2014 52.00 45.25 6.90 46.96% 5.84 181
2013 48.33 40.00 7.25 39.17% 6.32 120
2012 42.00 36.00 7.00 36.11% 6.00 36

Only right arm pacers have a higher share in wickets – 51.29% than the legspinners in after the first 21 games in this season. The right arm seamers have bowled 398.1 overs for their 119 wickets in comparison to 115.2 overs by legspinners. Legspinners have been the best wicket-taking options as the average of 21.26 and strike rate of 16.09 suggests – both the lowest among any types of bowling.

They have been exemplary in the first six overs as the numbers in the below table suggest. The top the all the parameters across different types of bowling.

Bowling in the Powerplay overs in IPL 2017

Type Balls Wkts Avg SR ER Dot% BPB
Right fast 893 26 47.08 34.35 8.22 39.75% 4.70
Left fast 279 10 38.90 27.90 8.37 41.22% 4.50
Right-arm offbreak 111 0 NA NA 7.30 41.44% 6.53
Right-arm legbreak 133 13 11.46 10.23 6.72 46.62% 6.33
Left-arm orthodox 104 5 24.40 20.80 7.04 40.38% 6.50

Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner said of leggie Rashid Khan after the inaugural game of the season: “You’ve got to sort of use your brain as well. You’ve got someone like Travis Head at the other end. I bowled Rashid Khan, who he’s never faced. He’s a bowler with great skill.”

In fact, it was this novelty factor which led the Sunrisers to aggressively bid for Rashid ahead of Imran Tahir who is the highest ranked bowler in the format. In a format which was supposed to make spin bowlers extinct, IPL 2017 has so far thrown evidence that it is quite the opposite and it’s the legspinners ruling the roost so far.

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