How chasing, power play success stood out in the first Women's Premier League
Domestic bowlers rather than batters came to the party in the first season of the five-team T20 league, which surprisingly Australian bowlers didn't get going, as this CricViz analysis shows
Five teams, 72 players, 22 matches, 6,541 runs, 960 boundaries, 259 wickets and one winning team. That was all action packed into 22 days in the first edition of the Women’s Premier League which saw Mumbai Indians crowned champions in one of the best matches of the tournament as they chased down the 131 Delhi Capitals set them with three balls to spare.
It was a power-hitting display from some of the world’s finest batters, and compared to other women’s T20 tournaments in the last 12 months, WPL saw more runs and boundaries per match.
‘Runs on the Board’ becoming outdated?
‘Win the toss and bat’ has been a popular strategy for captains in white-ball cricket for decades, to put pressure on the team batting second. The shortest format has seen a shift in this thinking over the last few years where the pressure is thought to be on the team bowling second to defend those runs. Despite the first WPL game being heavily one sided as Mumbai Indians beat Gujarat Giants by 143 runs, the tournament was very much a ‘chasing’ affair. 15 of the other 21 games were won by the team batting second, and often comfortably. Batters 10 and 11 were never required in any of the 15 winning chases with 12 of them being by five wickets or better.
Game within a Game
There is often a lot of discussion about how important it is to capitalise in the Power Play phase. The ‘power’ element, originally designed to give the batting team an opportunity to boost their run rate is a double-edged sword, as it also creates more wicket taking opportunities, especially with the swinging new ball. The six-over Power Play section is the game within a game; the team that wins this mini battle often goes on to win the match. This was very much the case in WPL, where 18 of the 22 games were won by the team that also ‘won’ the Power Play.
Franchise team – where do domestic players fit in?
(For the purpose of this analysis, an Indian International player is one who has represented their country in T20 cricket)
This new era of franchise cricket has created a new look in terms of the balance of a team. With so many talented Indian internationals and the capacity to have up to four overseas players in the starting XI, it is challenging for the domestic players to have the opportunity to showcase their skills. There is no doubt simply playing alongside some of the world’s best will improve their game and provide them invaluable experience, but with so many of the international players being seasoned all-rounders, it can be difficult to see where the next generation of players can stamp their mark on this big stage and consequently often play as non-bowling tail-enders.
Australia and England provided most of the overseas signings, and WPL enabled the top two ranked T20 sides to demonstrate their skills alongside the Indian international and domestic players.
Australian players and Indian international stars were the most dominant ‘groups’ in terms of balls faced and bowled. Collectively they faced 67% of all deliveries and bowled 52% of the overs in the tournament.
The domestic players were given more opportunity with the ball than the bat, bowling 16% of all deliveries in the competition but facing only 6% of the balls bowled in WPL.
How did MI use their domestic players?
The domestic players in MI faced less than 2% of all the deliveries, contributing just 17 runs in total. Humaira Kazi batted at No 7 in one game, the highest spot any domestic player went in for MI.
With regards to MI’s bowling, Saika Ishaque was one of the revelations of WPL and hit the ground running, taking 4/11 in the opening fixture. The left-arm spinner bowled more balls than any other MI player and took 20% of their wicket tally. Ishaque was one of the few domestic players that featured as a front-line bowler for their side.
Despite the dominant presence of Australian players, especially with the bat, no Australian featured in MI. The champions also fielded the fewest players out of the five teams. 10 of the MI playing XI were unchanged throughout the campaign with the 11th spot shared between only two players (Pooja Vastrakar 7 matches, Dhara Gujjar 3 matches)
Australian bowlers below par
Australia have been the top T20 side for a while now and with their performance in the T20 World Cup win, it looked like there was nothing they couldn’t do. The six-time World Cup winning team outplayed every other side in South Africa in February. In WPL, the Australian batters continued to demonstrate why they are No 1 in the world, but the bowlers failed to make an impact in India. The majority were more expensive than the average economy rate for all bowlers in WPL.