Batting tips from the IPL wagon wheel


With Covid-19 restricting Indian Premier League’s group stage to just three venues in Mumbai and one in Pune, teams have had similar playing conditions through the season. Here’s where the 10 teams have scored their runs this season — 41% through midwicket and covers, and a staggering 36% have come behind square

Where the teams have scored

Wagon wheels may not specify if a boundary through third man was off the edge or a deliberate ramp but they indicate intention of batters. Till the 56th match of IPL (May 9), most runs (3767) were scored through midwicket, followed by 3441 runs in the covers. Runs scored down third man and fine-leg belong to that confusing area that batters will claim as cheeky and bowlers as unfortunate but there is no doubt that the rising number of pacers—especially among the Indians—has led to more edges and miscues.

Where have teams scored the most?(HT graphic)

Shots like the upper cut and leg glance are also productive options behind the wicket. The distribution of runs, however, has turned out to be pretty close—8582 runs on the off and 9031 on the on. One of the reasons for this consistency could be that the IPL this time has been played across just four venues.


Chennai Super Kings

CSK's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
CSK’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

Early inconsistent run with the bat caused irreparable damage to Chennai Super Kings’ title defence chances. Most of their runs came from top order batters like Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu and their hitting form of late has somewhat steadied their ship. Runs from top order batters also explain the almost equal division in their season wagon wheel—893 on the off side and 918 on the leg side. Together, these four batters have also accounted for 91 boundaries—almost 60% of all fours CSK hit in this season so far—indicating how over-reliant Chennai have been on them. Out of their 152 boundaries, 57 have come through third man (33) and fine-leg (24). Shivam Dube (279 runs) is the only lower order batter to have comparable numbers with the highest strike rate and most number of sixes (16).

Delhi Capitals

DC's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
DC’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

A major subplot of fifth-placed Delhi Capitals’ batting is how they have allowed David Warner to flourish, keeping them in the hunt despite six losses. It shows in the numbers as well. That only Jos Buttler (55)—with four tons this season—has scored more boundaries than Warner (46)—who has four 50s—in this IPL says how dominant the Australian has been. The distribution of boundaries is more one-sided here, with Warner, Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant hitting 112 out of DC’s 175 boundaries. A more equitable distribution of overall runs—895 in the off-side and 874 in the on side tells us how balanced Capitals’ specialist batters have been with their range of shots.

Gujarat Titans

GT's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
GT’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

A remarkable feature of table toppers Gujarat Titans’ scoring pattern is how much they have accumulated runs without hitting too many sixes. In their last match against Lucknow Super Giants, they actually hit one and still won, only because they have a bowling attack that can defend well. A high number of boundaries by Shubman Gill (33), Hardik Pandya (36), Wriddhiman Saha (26) and David Miller (24)—majority through covers and midwicket—has helped GT get par scores without too much risk. Equally obvious is how few they have scored through the third man or fine-leg regions, making their batting template one of the most conservative in this IPL season.

Kolkata Knight Riders

KKR's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
KKR’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

With 840 runs in the off-side and 905 in the on side, seventh-placed KKR prove themselves to be a batting outlier in this format. But too much tinkering with the batting order has led to unforeseen losses. Cross-batted shots, going across the stumps and glancing/ramping the ball towards fine-leg or square-leg are templates of a batting approach they have revelled in. In Andre Russell KKR have a no-nonsense six-hitter who prefers the “V”. In fact, 65 sixes out of the total 89 hit by KKR have come in that region. In the third man region, KKR have scored 258 runs, the highest among all sides till Monday’s match. They have been equally strong in through fine-leg, scoring 215, again the highest among all teams. They have balance too in the form of Shreyas Iyer who has hit the most number of boundaries (35) for KKR. Russell has a strike rate of 183.66, one of the highest for batters with at least 250 runs in this IPL.

Lucknow Super Giants

LSG's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
LSG’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

KL Rahul leading the batting with two centuries, LSG batters haven’t tried to be adventurous. Most of their runs have come through cover and midwicket. Their top three too have a rather similar looking fours and sixes column—38 fours and 20 sixes for Rahul, 36 fours and 11 sixes for Quinton de Kock and 27 fours and 12 sixes for Deepak Hooda. Another intriguing aspect of their batting is that not one top order batter has a strike rate of more than 140, making their approach amply clear. A top bowling attack, however, nicely ties up all this to propel LSG to the second place of the table.

Mumbai Indians

MI's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
MI’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

Despite Rohit Sharma’s loss of form, Mumbai are bottom of the table more because of their out of depth bowling. Three batters aggregate more than 300 runs for MI but the approach has been unusual. Opener Ishan Kishan has hit just six sixes till date. Equally subdued has been Kieron Pollard—who has a strike rate of 107.46—and Sharma (200 runs at an average of 18.18), meaning MI have faltered to score quickly on a regular basis. Nearly all the conventional T20 scoring areas have yielded very few runs but for the region between square-leg and long-off (600 out of 922 runs in the leg-side and 1676 runs overall).

Punjab Kings

PBKS' wagon wheel(HT graphic)
PBKS’ wagon wheel(HT graphic)

A high-risk high-return batting approach has seen Punjab Kings chase down 205 and also get dismissed for 115. That explains why they are eighth right now. They have scored the least—773 runs—through the onside and are second best on the off side after Rajasthan Royals (966 runs) with 928 runs. The most obvious attributing reason seems to be the batting of Shikhar Dhawan who has been predominantly an off-side accumulator. After Dhawan, Kings’ second highest scorer is Liam Livingstone, who comes in at No 5 or 6. However, the best attribute of Livingstone is his clean hitting, amply displayed in his sixes column (25) and its contribution in their overall wagon wheel—making up for 492 of the 1701 runs scored so far. Dhawan, in fact, has one of the most skewed four to six ratios–40 to nine–for an IPL opener. Compare that with Livingstone who has hit 22 boundaries and 25 sixes and it tells you why Punjab Kings have often started slow but still finished strong.

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals' wagon wheel(HT graphic)
Rajasthan Royals’ wagon wheel(HT graphic)

Easily the most complete batting side of the IPL, Rajasthan Royals have scored heavily on both sides of the wickets—966 runs on the off and 907 on the on—to be third on the IPL points table. Take out Devdutt Padikkal’s strike rate (119.32) and Rajasthan Royals have a combined strike rate of above 155 for three batters—Jos Buttler (618 runs), Shimron Hetmyer (291 runs) and Sanju Samson (321 runs). That alone highlights the dominance of RR in terms of shots yielding fours and sixes, 39 (18 fours, 21 sixes) for Hetmyer, 92 (55 fours, 37 sixes) for Buttler and 47 (26 fours and 21 sixes) for Samson. No other trio has been this aggressive.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
RCB’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

With 996 runs on the leg-side, only Lucknow have exploited cross batted shots more effectively. Till their last match, they had scored 288 runs on the on side through sixes, compared to 174 on the off side. The boundary count, however, is reversed—RCB have scored 348 runs through the off side in boundaries compared to 296 on the leg. Bulk of the credit goes to Dinesh Karthik at No 7, who has hit 21 sixes and 21 fours, mostly through the on side to eke out some memorable wins.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

SRH's wagon wheel(HT graphic)
SRH’s wagon wheel(HT graphic)

Kane Williamson’s poor string of scores (199 runs overall) at a dismal strike rate of under 100 (96.13) meant Sunrisers Hyderabad had to depend more on the rest of the batting. Runs have largely come from opening partner Abhishek Sharma (331), Aiden Markram (326), Rahul Tripathi (308) and Nicholas Pooran (261) lower down the order but a better strike rate from the top three may be able to lift them out of the sixth position. Markram and Sharma are more in the classical mould, relying heavily on the regions between point and midwicket. It shows in the distribution of boundaries as well—30 coming through cover and 29 through midwicket. In fact, that only GT (401 runs) and RR (392 runs) have scored more than SRH’s 361 runs through cover highlights their preference for this region.

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