Statistics can be used to prove just about anything, but one stat is getting plenty of attention in IPL 9.
No fewer than 13 of the first 14 matches have been won by the team batting second. The data from T20 cricket ever played shows no clear advantage in batting first or second but, in this tournament, for some reason, it looks easy to chase a target and almost impossible to set a target.
As US presidential candidate Donald Trump might say, “C’mon guys, we need to figure out what the hell is going on!”
The key question must be, ‘Is there a clear, and maybe unfair, advantage in batting second?’
My answer is ‘No’.
First, it is true that it is preferable to chase when the dew appears in the evening, simply because bowlers and fielders find it more difficult to grip the wet ball, but that has always been the case. So far as I know, the climactic conditions of India have not suddenly changed in the past fortnight. Dew has always been caused by condensation, not by a new IPL regulation.
Second, it can be easier to plan your innings when batting second because you know how many runs you need, but this has also always been the case. Teams batting first must calculate what would be a competitive score and, in anxiety, can push too hard, too soon, lose wickets and come up short, but the structure of the game has not changed.
It’s also worth asking if there is any clear advantage in batting second, and why have no fewer than four teams won the toss and decided to bat? Rohit Sharma, of Mumbai Indians, did so in Game 1. MS Dhoni, of Rising Pune Supergiants, did so in Games 6 and 10. David Warner, of Sunrisers Hyderabad, did so Game 8. These are some of the wisest and most experienced captains in the game, and they know what they are doing.
What we are seeing at the moment is nothing more a statistical anomaly, which will even out as the tournament progresses.
At RCB, we were disappointed to lose in Mumbai, but our bowling improved and we are looking forward to three more away games on the road. We know what we have to do and are confident of getting the right results, no matter whether we bat first or second.