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IPL’s six-pack: Analysing the bowlers this season

Based on the clustering analysis that observes the outcome of a delivery we find that, just as was the case with the batsmen, there are six broad groups of IPL bowlers as well.

cricket Updated: May 10, 2019 18:37 IST
Karthik Shashidhar
Karthik Shashidhar
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
IPL,IPL 2019,Indian Premier League
Mumbai Indians’Lasith Malinga (R) and Jasprit Bumrah during a practice session (PTI)

Into its 12th season now, the IPL has gone on for long enough for statisticians to unearth strong patterns. Last week, we classified the batsmen into six distinct categories by observing how they collect their runs. Drawing from the same well of data, today we take a look at the bowlers.

Based on the clustering analysis that observes the outcome of a delivery (a blend of the runs conceded and the wickets scalped) we find that, just as was the case with the batsmen, there are six broad groups of IPL bowlers as well. Some of the results are alarming, to say the least. You’d perhaps be surprised to know that Ajit Agarkar is not too different from Dwayne Bravo, the all-time leading wicket-taker in T20 . Or that, somehow, almost magically, Piyush Chawla finds himself in the best category, and holds his own against the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga. Bowlers who have bowled less than 750 balls across seasons have been excluded.

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Bowlers who bowl the fewest dot balls are, understandably, the part-timers. Picked mainly for their prowess with the bat, the likes of Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard end up bowling a few overs in most matches, and just as regularly they are milked for singles in more than half the balls they bowl. Two proper bowlers also make this unenvied list, Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya.


These men regularly bowl at the death for their teams, which is reflected in the fact that they all get hit at a strike rate of 140. Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner and Jaydev Unadkat—these bowlers bowl few dot balls, but are above average in all other outcomes, including, significantly, filling up the wickets column.


Interestingly, most of the spinners —wrist or finger, Indian or overseas—have managed to fall into one bucket. Whether it is off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, leg-spinner Shane Warne or the odd part-timer in Rohit Sharma, they tend to bowl few dot balls, concede plenty of singles and are hit for more sixes than the average bowler. But here’s the good part: no other type of bowler is hit for lesser fours.

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New-Ball Misers

Pacers who tend to operate with the new ball and not bowl too many overs at the death, such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Dale Steyn, do far better than others of their ilk by bowling plenty of dot balls and not conceding too many singles, twos or sixes. But they do end up being driven for more boundaries than the average pacer.

Old-Ball Wicket-Takers

This category also predominantly contains pacers, but those who don’t generally open the bowling. Umesh Yadav, Zaheer Khan, Mohit Sharma and Mitchell McClenaghan—they all take far more wickets than their new-ball contemporaries, but end up getting regularly smacked for fours and sixes, which in turn makes the fans in the stands wonder if they would’ve been better off bowling with the new ball.


Lasith Malinga. Jasprit Bumrah. Rashid Khan. Sunil Narine. And, wait for it, Piyush Chawla. Everyone in this category (Chawla included) is superior on all the metrics—high proportion of dot balls and low on fours and sixes. They are, in short, the complete package and a real go-to for any fielding captain in clutch situations.

First Published: May 09, 2019 17:04 IST

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