At the end of the first three rounds of matches, here is a look at some of the highlights of the IPL 2021 season so far through the lens of Smart Stats, which looks at every batting and bowling performance through the prism of match context, thus going beyond the basic metrics of runs, wickets, strike rates and economy rates.
Most impactful performance in a game
Sanju Samson's outstanding 119 from 63 balls took pole position, followed by Shikhar Dhawan's 92 off 49 against the Punjab Kings. Although Samson's century came in a lost cause, it was by far the best individual performance. The next highest score for Rajasthan was just 25.
The most impactful bowling performance was Rahul Chahar's 4 for 27, which helped the Mumbai Indians beat the Kolkata Knight Riders while defending a low score of 152. Chahar got his first wicket when the Knight Riders needed 81 from 68 deliveries and then dismissed the other top three batters to set up the win. Chahar's four wickets were worth 6.34 Smart Wickets. Jaydev Unadkat's outstanding powerplay performance against the Delhi Capitals and Shahbaz Ahmed's three wickets in an over against the Sunrisers Hyderabad were the next-best bowling performances. The 76 runs AB de Villiers scored against the Knight Riders was the third-best batting performance.
Negative impact performances
Since smart runs take into account the conditions and match context, and gives the real value of each run scored, it is possible to find out - by checking the difference between smart runs and the actual runs scored - whether an innings was beneficial or detrimental to the team.
For instance, KL Rahul's 61 from 51 deliveries against the Capitals were worth just 44 smart runs, which suggests it harmed the Kings' cause. That is because, while Mayank Agarwal, his opening partner, scored at a strike rate of 191.66, Rahul scored at just 119.60. In the end, the Kings managed to score 195 when they were looking at close to 220 at the halfway stage, and the Capitals chased down the score in just 18.2 overs. In a match where the average strike rate was 162.6, Rahul scored at 119.60.
There were two other knocks that negatively influenced a team but there were other players who compensated for it to ensure the team did not lose. Devdutt Padikkal and Ishan Kishan had an impact of -12 runs but de Villiers and Kieron Pollard made up for the slow scores of their team-mates towards the end.
At the other end, David Miller's 62 and Jonny Bairstow's 43 were the innings that had the highest positive influence, in terms of difference between the smart runs and the runs they scored. Miller's 62 were worth 82 smart runs while Bairstow's 43 were worth 63 smart runs.
Overs that swung the game around
ESPN's Forecaster tool is fed with match situations, team strengths, and historic information, based on which it comes up with probabilities of a team winning. As the game progresses, these probabilities change. Here is a look at some of the instances where the win probabilities changed dramatically in an over.
In their chase of 153 against Mumbai, the Knight Riders were 134 for 5 in 18 overs, needing 19 runs from 12 balls with two of the best finishers at the crease - Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell. Their win probability was 80.15% at that stage. However, the world's best death bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, conceded just four runs in the 19th over to decrease the win probability by 50 percentage points to 30%. Mumbai went on to win the game by 10 runs.
In the game against the Kings, the Royals needed 40 runs from 18 deliveries with five wickets in hand. They had only an 18% chance of winning at that stage. However, Samson and Rahul Tewatia smashed Jhye Richardson for 19 runs to increase the win probability to 75%. Although in the end this was not enough for the Royals to win, the over had a huge change in fortunes, which the Royals could not capitalise on.
Ahmed's three-wicket over against the Sunrisers had the third-highest change in win percentages. Before the 17th over, the Sunrisers had an 80% chance of winning, while after the over, it fell down to 37%, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore won by six runs.