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Data drives T20 cricket, not opposition’s strength or weakness: Virender Sehwag

Cricket has evolved and so has T20. So much so that someone like Virender Sehwag, who wasn’t the most conventional of players in his heyday, believes in data to gauge the performance of players.

cricket Updated: Mar 14, 2018 09:32 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Virender Sehwag,T20 cricket,Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI mentor Virender Sehwag and captain R Ashwin unveil their team jersey for the Indian Premier League 2018 in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)

Kings XI Punjab have often shown a tendency to blow hot and cold in the last 10 seasons of Indian Premier League (IPL). They have had their share of success but have also lacked killer instinct.

It’s a fresh season of IPL and team mentor Virender Sehwag has his one-liner ready. “It’s a much stronger team and this time we are loaded with more hard hitters.”

Like his team, IPL has also come a long way since its inception in 2008, feels Sehwag. The investment is huge and the number of brains in each franchise have also increased manifold.

Data driven

Cricket has evolved and so has T20. So much so that someone like Sehwag, who wasn’t the most conventional of players in his heyday, believes in data to gauge the performance of players.

“The dynamics of T20 has changed completely since IPL started. Team work and rely a lot on data. For example the conditions on offer, the average scores at different grounds.

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“Earlier, teams used to rely on strengths and weaknesses of opposition teams, which isn’t the case anymore. You can actually predict how and when a particular batsman or bowler will perform, that’s how strongly teams rely on data these days,” said the former India opener.

Sehwag points to a few cases. “There are bowlers who can bowl well between overs 7 to 14 but aren’t good when they bowl during power-play or death. On the other hand, there are bowlers who are exceptionally good in power-plays and death because those particular bowlers trust their ability there.”

Gayle’s marketability

One of the biggest surprises at this year’s IPL auction was the way Chris Gayle was overlooked until he was finally picked for his base price by Kings XI from the list of recalled players.

Gayle’s batting powers may be waning but for Kings XI, the Jamaican marauder brings a lot to the table. “We first wanted to pick the players who we had shortlisted and then if we had money we go for others and that was the case with Gayle. Not to forget, Gayle is also a very marketable product.”

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“Also, Gayle is a legend of T20 cricket and with his experience brings a lot to the table. Not only he is an asset to the team but can also be a guide to the likes of Mayank Agarwal and many other young batsmen,” explained Sehwag.

Sehwag’s team will need that experience and more in the upcoming season. Kings XI along with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils are the only teams not to have won IPL.

While Sehwag backs the importance of data-based strategy in T20, it remains to be seen how much of it KXIP can use when the 2018 season starts on April 7.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 08:49 IST