Impact players and key absences: Why IPL 2023 has been one of the fastest-scoring T20 competitions ever
@ovshake42 3 minute read
The 2023 IPL has been one of the fastest-scoring T20 competitions of all time, and the Impact Player has certainly contributed towards that.
Twenty-three matches into the tournament, the run rate in IPL 2023 stands at 8.94. For perspective, this is significantly more than the next best of 8.64, set in IPL 2018. The difference of 0.3 amounts to six runs an innings.
To put it crudely, teams are hitting one more six per innings. Or a four and a two. Or running six singles. Whichever permutation you are comfortable with.
But IPL 2023 is not merely the fastest-scoring season of the IPL either. If one includes all Twenty20 cricket, only PSL 2023 (9.20) has seen runs being scored at a quicker rate.
If one classifies The Hundred as Twenty20 (there is no reason to: since statistics from Test matches with four-, five-, six-, and eight-ball overs can be clubbed together), IPL 2023 is still third, just behind the 2022 Hundred (8.99 runs per six balls bowled).
As is evident, Hundred 2021 (8.83) occupies fourth place. This is logical, because if seven batters from a team can hit, they can afford to lose a wicket every 14 balls (compared to 17 in the usual Twenty20). Since batters take risks more often, the run rate goes up.
But why are the IPL teams scoring at a rate quicker than they ever had in the past 15 editions? Let us look at the data from the last five years.
The Impactful Player
Most teams have used the Impact Player in expected fashion, by replacing a batter with a bowler (or the other way round) depending on which side bats first. Either way, they have an extra hitter in lieu of a rank tail-ender.
The number of balls (120) have remained the same, as have the wickets (10). But in cricket, not all wickets are of equal importance when it comes to batting.
Teams now have more resources than before. If a team had six batters who could hit until 2022, they now have seven; the seven has become eight; and so on. The teams, thus, are open to taking risks throughout the innings.
This is particularly evident in the early stages of the innings. Teams are now going after the bowling from the onset, and are not slowing down during the middle overs. The impact is not as evident in the death overs, where teams have been approaching a peak.
The difference in the powerplay overs is staggering. At the 2023 IPL, teams have been, on average, five runs ahead at the powerplay than in 2022 (the next best year since 2019), and extending it to only seven by the end of the innings. They are acquiring those two runs in the middle overs, not at the death.
A riskier, hence quicker, start has thus not affected the death-over scoring rates, because teams can now afford to lose an extra wicket. In fact, teams are losing wickets more often than before.
In IPL 2022, Jasprit Bumrah of the Mumbai Indians finished with 15 wickets at 25.53, while going at 7.18 an over. At 5.96, Mohsin Khan of the Lucknow Super Giants was the most economical seamer of the season, while Kagiso Rabada of the Punjab Kings had the third-most wickets (23).
With 16 wickets, Dwayne Bravo and Mukesh Choudhary were the leading wicket-takers for the Chennai Super Kings, while Matheesha Pathirana had an economy rate of 7.45. No one from the Kolkata Knight Riders took more wickets than Andre Russell (17).
Prasidh Krishna (19) and Josh Hazlewood (20) were the respective second-highest wicket-takers for their respective franchises, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Many of these bowlers have been ruled out of the current season, as have the likes of Jhye Richardson, who had to miss the 2022 IPL as well, and Shakib Al Hasan. Some have not started yet. And some have started late. And some, like Russell, have barely bowled.
And these not even include the injuries cricketers like Deepak Chahar, Sisanda Magala or Jofra Archer endured during the tournament.
Of course, bowlers are not the only ones to be injured. Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Jonny Bairstow, and Will Jacks are among those to be ruled out of the tournament. But while teams have proactively replaced most batters, they have been unable to find replacement bowlers.