Jos Buttler lit up IPL 2022 with four hundreds and a stunning aggregate of 863 runs - the second-highest ever in an IPL season - but in terms of impact per match, as measured by ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, he was pipped to the top spot by an uncapped player with only 26 T20 matches under his belt coming into this tournament.
Mohsin Khan had an undistinguished start to IPL 2022. He went for 18 in two wicketless overs in Lucknow Super Giants' opener against Gujarat Titans, and then didn't play another game for nearly a month, but when he returned after missing six games, he made an immediate difference to their bowling attack.
In his last eight matches (starting April 24), Mohsin conceded 12.78 runs per wicket and 5.77 per over. Among the 33 bowlers who bowled at least 20 overs in this period, none had a better average or economy rate. Overall in the season, no bowler had a better economy rate in the powerplay than his 5.25, while only four did better than his 8.62 at the death (minimum qualification: eight overs for each).
But forget about the conventional stats for a moment. Smart Stats takes into account match context for each ball bowled, and it's here that Mohsin's contribution shines even more.
Take, for example, his 4 for 16 against Delhi Capitals. In a match where 195 played 189 (match run rate 9.6), Mohsin went at four an over, and took the wickets of David Warner, Rishabh Pant and Rovman Powell. His bowling impact points for the game was 141.01, the third-best by any bowler in a game this season (behind the five-fors by Umran Malik and Yuzvendra Chahal). He had another entry in the top five too: his 3 for 20 in an extremely high-scoring and tight win against Kolkata Knight Riders (match run rate 10.45) won him 127.37 points.
In fact, in only two of the nine games did his impact points drop below 35. That incredible consistency, coupled with those highs, gave him an average rating of 58.4 impact points per match, the highest for any player in the tournament.
Buttler was outstanding through the first seven games of the tournament, and he regained his form again in the playoffs. In those 10 games, his average impact score was a whopping 84.1. He had five innings in which his batting impact score exceeded 100; all the other batters put together only had 25 such instances in the entire tournament.
However, what let Buttler down was his sudden dip in form in the second half of the league stage. In seven innings, he scored only 138 runs; in three of those innings he had negative impact scores, and his average impact score in those seven matches was only 16.4. That meant his overall average for the tournament was 56.2, still very impressive but just a shade below that of Mohsin.
As if topping the charts wasn't enough for the family of uncapped players, they went ahead and captured the third spot too, thanks to Rajat Patidar, who had a sensational season after being drafted in as a replacement player. Patidar played his first game of the season only a month into the tournament, but like Mohsin, he became an indispensable member of the team. Before he came in, Royal Challengers Bangalore had struggled with the No. 3 slot - Virat Kohli managed just 119 runs in eight innings at a strike rate of 122.7.
Then, along came Patidar and lifted those numbers several notches, scoring 312 runs in six innings at that position, at a strike rate of 153.7. Along the way, he struck a scarcely believable unbeaten 112 off 54 balls in the eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants, when his other team-mates managed only 85 off 67. That was the first century by an uncapped player in an IPL playoff game, and fetched 175.4 impact points, the most by any batter in an innings this season. Only once was he dismissed under 20, and in four innings his impact score topped 50.
Andre Russell, Liam Livingstone and Umesh Yadav round off the top six, with less than two points separating them. Russell had an excellent season with both bat and ball: he was the leading wicket-taker for Kolkata Knight Riders, and also topped their charts for both batting and bowling averages. He was the only player in the tournament to score over 200 runs and take over 10 wickets, and had five match performances with impact scores of over 100. To go with those highs, he also had the lowest of lows - his none for 45 in three overs and 5 off 11 balls against Lucknow Super Giants gave him an impact score of -36.6, the worst by any player in a match this season. That he still features among the top performers overall indicates how well he did in the other games.
The uncapped stars
The 2022 season was the first time an uncapped player topped the impact ratings in an IPL season. Mohsin's rating of 58.4 is also the highest rating for an uncapped player in a season. In fact, there are only four instances of an uncapped player topping a rating of 50 in an IPL season (with a minimum of eight matches played), of which two were in 2022.
The first such instance happened way back in the inaugural IPL season in 2008, when Shaun Marsh had a blockbuster season, topping the charts with 616 runs at a strike rate of 139.7. His impact rating of 57.9 that season is only marginally lower than Mohsin's 58.4 in 2022.
Marsh's run that season was built around rock-solid consistency. He made five fifties and a hundred in 11 innings, and that is reflected in his impact scores: seven scores over 40, though only one exceeded 100. The international debut was inevitable, and it happened soon after, in June 2008.
Shreyas Gopal's 2019 season was similarly impressive, when he took 20 wickets - the third-highest in that edition - including those of Kohli and AB de Villiers twice in two matches. In eight out of 14 matches that season, his impact score topped 40.