Thursday, May 02, 2013

IPL 2013: Home/Away Records and Lazy Punditry

A recurring narrative during this IPL season has been that of how home teams have won most matches. We have so far had 46 matches of which 33 have been won by the home team. Four teams - Bangalore (6-0), Hyderabad (4-0), Mumbai (4-0) and Rajasthan (5-0) are yet to lose at home.

It made me wonder if there has been such a pattern in the league in the previous seasons. Apart from Rajasthan in 2008 & Chennai in 2011, I cannot remember any side winning all their home games in a season. So I had a look at the results from all the IPL seasons held in India i.e. 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and as it turns out, the highest home win % is indeed from this season. The next highest was in 2010 when the home team won 55% of the matches. Here's a chart showing the numbers season by season.

Commentators have been discussing among themselves and asking players about why home teams have been winning so many matches. There have been the usual explanations of how teams prepare pitches at their home venue to suit their style of play.

Well, from what I have seen, the pitches at Wankhede and Sawai Mansingh Stadium aren't too different from those at Chinnaswamy, yet Bangalore lost at both those venues while they have won all their matches at home. In any case, the pitch factor would have been in effect in each of the previous seasons so why didn't we have more results going in favour of the home side until this year?

There is also the explanation that players get tired from all the traveling and living out of a suitcase during their road trips, but again that's been the case in all the previous seasons as well.

There have been some sub-narratives within the main one of home teams dominating matches. The first is that the Kolkata needed to exploit their home advantage in order to make the playoffs, and that their failure to do so has pushed them to the brink of elimination.

If the pundits had bothered to find out, Kolkata did not make the 2012 playoffs on the back of winning on doctored pitches at home. Infact, they had a 3-4 record at the Eden Gardens (Their game against Deccan was rained out). So the problem for Kolkata this season is not that they are 3-2 at home. The problem is that they are 0-5 away so far when they went 7-1 on the road in 2012.

They had a scoring rate of 7.53 runs an over in 2012, while they're scoring at 7.59 runs an over this season. However, they're giving away 7.66 runs an over this season as opposed to just 6.89 an over in 2012. There is no real explanation for it because their roster is virtually the same. While they are missing Shakib Al Hasan this season, he played less than half their games last season. They don't have the services of Wasim Akram this season, and while I think they were wrong in letting him go, I am talking from a position where I have no idea what Akram brought to the team.

The other sub-narrative is that of Chennai being unbeaten on the road while everyone else is struggling to win away. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked about it and he talked about how the squad was more of a family instead of a professional set up, and how the management knew its cricket through being involved with the sport for years. How the players weren't asked what went wrong after a loss, but were told what went wrong.

While all this is true for 2013, it has been true for previous seasons as well. Yet, Chennai have at various points in the past struggled away from home. They had a 2-5 away record in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. So why are they 4-0 this season while the rest of the league is a combined 9-33 in away games?

There are two very obvious reasons for it. The first one is that they are simply the best side in the league this season, a status they haven't had in the five seasons prior. Sure they're the only side to have made the last four in each of the previous seasons. But they haven't finished top of the table in any of them. They are better this season because of a number of reasons. They have a deeper and more quality batting lineup this season than any of the previous ones. Ravindra Jadeja is playing better than he ever has. Chris Morris has provided them a fast bowling option they have lacked in all but 2010 and 2011 when Doug Bollinger was at his best. Most importantly, they finally have Michael Hussey for the entire season. Why is he so critical? Well, he only has the highest average of all Chennai players. He averages 43.77 which is more than 7 runs higher than their next best batsman. Infact, they dropped him for one game this season & promptly lost to last-placed Pune.

The second reason for Chennai being unbeaten on the road is the opposition they've faced. Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Punjab are the bottom four teams in the league. In Mohali, Delhi, Kolkata & Pune, they are a combined 7-11. Take out their losses to Chennai and they're still only 7-7. On the other hand, the four teams Chennai have yet to visit are a combined 19-0 at home.

None of this is meant to suggest that Chennai will lose all their remaining away games. Will they win all their remaining road games? Probably not. Will they all of a sudden be struggling because they're on the road? Definitely not. It would be foolish to think that the least flawed of the nine teams would turn into an average side just because the opposition is strong. All I'm trying to say is if the experts are willing to do something other than offer cliches and peddle sponsor names during their commentary stint, they can easily tell the viewers why Chennai have the kind of record they do.


  1. Good sensible read. Thanks for the info.

  2. You mention Mike Hussey being the most crucial batsman for CSK since his average is 7 more than the next best.
    Do you think somebody like a Dravid or Sachin, if they averaged 5-7 more than anyone else on their team, would be as crucial, considering their SRs are usually around 115 runs per 100 balls?

  3. wow, can any one say that who will win the Champions league T20 2013?

    1. Hope so CSK will win . Well PL and CLT20 where the excitement is always there and hence most of the people would like to watch for those reasons. Likewise you could also get those same excitement and entertainment while playing in IPL Online Cricket Game

  4. i'm sure mumbai indians will be winner of this CLT20 2013