Bowlers can relax, high totals are peculiar to IPL

If there is one thing we have come to witness - even if we can’t quite understand or accept - is that there is no ceiling on scoring in the IPL.
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 17:36 IST
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 17:36 IST

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Bengaluru: At a time when cricket prepares to enter baseball territory, cricket itself has become a bit like baseball. 

At least that’s what Punjab Kings’ skipper Sam Curran reckoned in the aftermath of a run glut, the likes of which the Indian Premier League has never seen before. 

Curran was in the dugout on Friday night when he saw Jonny Bairstow inspire the side to the highest-ever successful run chase in T20 history. 

Punjab scored an absurd (or is it any longer?) 262/2 in 18.4 overs in response to 261/six in 20 overs by KKR. That’s 523 runs in 232 deliveries for the loss of eight wickets. Also, the teams aggregated 42 sixes in the game, the highest ever in the format. 

Well, if there is one thing we have come to witness - even if we can’t quite understand or accept - is that there is no ceiling on scoring in the IPL. 

Should the batters feel like it and the conditions suit them just enough, there is practically nothing a bowler can do but hope that he has not done so bad that he won’t retain his place for the next game. As for sustained success as a bowler, unless you’re Jasprit Bumrah, you’re going be spending a lot of time questioning your career choice. 

Let’s see, seven of the top-10 scores in IPL history have come this season.

With 30 games left in the season, including the knockouts, 24 200-plus scores have been scored this season. 

It’s still second behind 2023 when 37 totals went beyond 200 but that count is for the entire season. Even if they don't get to 37, which is being insanely conservative, this season is still an anomaly because the aforementioned seven top-10 scores have all been above 250, while 2023 saw only one team score over 250. 

The 200-plus team-total tally has fluctuated over the years, but the last three seasons - 2022 saw eighteen 200-plus scores - have seen an unprecedented spike. 

Curran, speaking after the game, attributed this metamorphosis to training. “I think loads of different things (have added up to this). I think the way guys train is obviously huge and they can hit balls for a long period of time. I guess it's the confidence, coaches and the way we've been training. Let's be honest - small grounds with a bit of dew and the ball (gets wet) and sometimes you get a wide call. You think you've got a dot ball, you review it and then it's wide. Then an extra ball. So, yeah, not saying it's a batsman's game but it's showing... I'm sure everyone wants to keep seeing sixes. I think stats is definitely going out of the window.”

The Englishman isn’t wrong, but this 200 per cent jump between 2022 and 2023 isn’t just about training and conditions. It has more to do with a rule which was brought about the previous year.

It goes by ‘Impact Player’, and cricketers are not particularly fond of it. 

Actually, all-rounders, captains and the cricket world at large can continue to frown upon it for a myriad reasons, but proper batters don’t have any reason to complain because the rule has unshackled them. 

Typically, batters tend to grow anxious about the situation and mend their tactics so as to shield their middle or lower-middle-order, but now, armed with the awareness that their dismissal only means another quality batter is going to come after, they let it rip. Sure, some momentum is lost in the time it takes the new batter to settle in, but at least the odds of them making a good score remain. That’s what we’re witnessing now. 

See, in 2016, only six team totals went beyond 200, and four of those totals belonged to Royal Challengers Bangalore. That was to do with Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Shane Watson and KL Rahul. 

In 2014, in a tournament which saw nine 200-plus totals, Kings XI Punjab owned the top four because their batting line-up read: Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey and Mandeep Singh. 

Those line-ups are generational, but the last two seasons have shown that reputations and experience are not imperatives. 

Take the likes of Abhishek Sharma, Shashank Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Ashutosh Sharma for instance. They are blissfully unaware of the concept of pressure because, from the time they’ve barely entered their teens, they are exposed to an environment which the preceding generation wasn’t privy to until much later.

That could explain why this spike in scoring is not reflective at the international level. Typically, teams still rely on experience to build a side for World Cups, meaning a lot of youngsters wait their turn.

Sure, there are some big scores going about, including the 314 Nepal scored recently, but a better data set comes from T20 World Cups because the best teams participated in conditions which weren’t compromised. 

The highest-ever total in a T20 World Cup remains the 260 Sri Lanka scored against Kenya in the very first edition of the tournament. That edition saw five scores over 200. Since then, seven editions have witnessed only nine scores of over 200.

But experience over youth is a small part of a nuanced scenario. Let’s see, international cricket is more concentrated with talent, conditions vary each year, the ropes aren’t brought in, there’s some national pride at stake, and, more importantly, you don’t get one extra batter to do your deed. You play 11 and live with the consequences. 

Luckily, we’re a little over a month from the beginning of the T20 World Cup in America so we can revert to what was, and not get lost in the insanity that is team totals these days. 

Published 27 April 2024, 17:36 IST

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