Monday, May 21, 2012

IPL League Stage Review


The Story So Far

The league stage of the fifth IPL season is over. In my previous post I had taken a shot at predicting where the nine teams would finish. As a Daredevils fan I'm happy my prediction for them has proven wrong. That said, I think they are the least likely of the four playoff teams to win the title as the early season form of Shahbaz Nadeem didn't carry over to the latter stages (They have dropped him!) and the two venues they will be playing at have had pitches which didn't have much for fast bowlers.

This has been a strange season in many ways. I think most people would agree that the league stage this year has been the best in five seasons. 2010 was good, but not this competitive. I try and keep track of team performances every season and determine their likelihood of winning a match based on the teams' average (batting and bowling), strike rate (batting and bowling), economy rate, and balls per wicket lost. The last IPL was pretty straightforward in that the 4 teams that finished at the top also had the best estimated win percentage. However, this season has been different. Only two of the teams that finished in the top four had their estimated win percentage in the top four as well. Below is the table depicting the actual and the estimated win percentage of the 9 nine teams.


Team 
Matches
Won 
Lost 
Win %
Est Win %
Delhi
16
11
5
68.75%
59.94%
Kolkata
16
10.5
5.5
65.63%
62.80%
Mumbai
16
10
6
62.50%
45.84%
Chennai
16
8.5
7.5
53.13%
49.03%
Bangalore
16
8.5
7.5
53.13%
49.71%
Punjab
16
8
8
50.00%
43.81%
Rajasthan
16
7
9
43.75%
55.25%
Deccan
16
4.5
11.5
28.13%
43.34%
Pune
16
4
12
25.00%
34.51%

With just a 16-game season, a couple of odd results are enough to see sides qualify or get eliminated. Even though Mumbai finished third, they have been the least convincing of the final four. They have been blown away in quite a few games and won three matches off the last ball. They have the strongest and the most balanced squad on paper, but have grossly underperformed (More on this later). Rajasthan, meanwhile, lost a game they had no business losing. Bangalore finished below Chennai because tie-breakers only consider net run-rate and don't take into account some of the other factors that are part of my model, which is fine because a model is just that and nothing more.

Looking Forward

Given that the remaining matches will be played in Pune, Bangalore and Chennai, I think Kolkata are the favourites to win the title. The pitches in Pune and Chennai have been good for slow bowlers and the Knight Riders have made it to the playoffs on the back of their spinners. Their only concern is the dependency of the batting on Gautam Gambhir who has scored twice as many fifties as the rest of the batsmen put together! But with the cushion of having two shots at making the final, I can't see them not playing on 27th May.

Delhi had a brilliant start to their IPL but have slowed down since Pietersen's departure. The batting lineup is top-heavy and their fast bowlers are unlikely to do as well in Pune or Chennai. Infact, they managed to take just three wickets in the two games they played at these venues in the league stage. If they have to win the title, it will have to be on their batsmen. Mahela Jayawardene will be the key man as he's their best batsmen on such pitches.

I had picked Mumbai to finish top of the table before the IPL because I felt they had done the right thing by taking the captaincy away from Tendulkar. However, they've created an even bigger headache for themselves because Harbhajan Singh is not going to sit out now that he's captaining the side. He's taken just 6 wickets at an average of over 60. His economy rate - 7.13 - isn't too flash either. They really should be playing Pragyan Ojha and/or Robin Peterson but they won't, and that is why I can't see them winning three in a row to win the title.

Chennai have made it this far because of some outrageously favourable results since their last game. Considering their record in the IPL a lot of people think they're destined to win the IPL this season too. I don't know about destiny, but I do know their biggest test will come in their next game. Mumbai have beaten them twice this season although one of those wins was freak result. They will be playing in Bangalore which is a batting beauty and only five times (Yes, five!) has a Chennai batsman scored a fifty this IPL.

My prediction: Kolkata to win the IPL.

1 comment:

  1. And Mumbai has never lost a game in Bangalore! 4 out of 4 is their record! Even tougher for Chennai !

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