How Kings XI Punjab can use data to change their fortunes in the IPL

“Maxwell!!! Unbelievable!”

“My word! How did he do that?!”

We all remember the revelation that Glen Maxwell was for Kings XI during their memorable run to the IPL finals in 2014. The sheer carnage that he enticed out of his bat, on bowlers of all calibre, without regard for spin and pace, blowing conventional batting wisdom out of the park as he went about an innings, was breath-taking to watch.

Despite having an extremely poor record in the IPL previously, KXIP bought him at a steep premium in the 2014 auction. Having not made it to the semifinals since the first IPL season, the naysayers laughed it off as a bad piece of business. However, we all know how Maxwell turned the IPL on its head that season and along with it KXIP’s fortune. KXIP have always made astute buys in the auctions, be it uncovering Shaun Marsh in the first season or David Miller more recently. As we have seen repeatedly since the advent of franchisee based league cricket, it has become more and more important for teams to pick the right players for the right positions, even if the said player is unheard of and would not have been picked by a conventional selection committee.

Maxwell doing Maxwell things. During an innings of 89(45) against the Rajasthan Royals, where KXIP chased 192 with 7 wickets and 8 balls to spare.

After the blistering 2014 season however, KXIP have been the dreaded wooden spoon holders in both of the previous two seasons of the IPL. Maxwell’s loss of form has exposed quite a few flaws in their team setup which they have failed to address. We have tried to use the data available from the past 2 seasons of the IPL to see where exactly are KXIP missing the trick, and what needs to be done by them in order to be a more complete and a successful team in the forthcoming season.

Methodology

We have considered the data for the past 2 seasons and analysed what goes into making a winning team in the IPL. Since, cricket is a sport where the ground conditions and the city you play in affect the outcome in a tangible manner, we looked at matches played at every ground and tried to see what is a winning total at each ground. The data was looked at in a granular per over level and we broke an innings into 4 segments to see how each team fared in each of those segments.

We’ve also chalked KXIP’s score vs the average winning score on each ground-

Runs scored by the winning team and kings XI on various grounds(where 5+ matches were played)

As seen above, even at their home ground KXIP fails to make any mark. We dug deeper by making segmented over calculation for all winning teams across all grounds, along with KXIP’s segmented over calculation on the same grounds.

Average split for 1st innings at Mohali
Average split for 2nd innings at Mohali

As we can see, even at their home ground, KXIP consistently trails in each over segment through the course of a match. This data can help us diagnose where and how KXIP are lacking in their batting order.

To identify where they have holes in their batting lineup, we can extend the same methodology and look at how they fare vis-à-vis a winning team averaged across all grounds in the IPL. Once we have a look at that, we will be able to pinpoint the holes in their lineup with much more confidence.

To quantify the performance of a batting team we came up with a score index
Index = (Score of KXIP in a segment on a ground / Score of winning teams in that segment on the same ground ) x 100

We computed indices for all grounds for KXIP and winning teams and then took a weighted average to compute a final score index.

If the index tends towards 100% in a segment it means KXIP’s performance in that segment is nearing that of the winners. The more the difference in a segment, the more improvement is required in that segment.

How KXIP fare compared to a winning teams total (%) in each over segment

As the data clearly shows, KXIP are not at par with the winning total in any of the segments through the course of a match. We can see that their their top order is lagging way behind and so is the contribution by their lower middle order at the fag end of an innings. Armed with this data, we can form an informed and well thought out strategy for the upcoming auction for KXIP.

Auction Picks and Batting Order:

In an attempt to improve their last 2 seasons’ performance, KXIP will definitely go with a very aggressive strategy, come this IPL auction on the 20th of February. They have the largest purse size, a whopping 23 crores to induct some fresh talent into their existing team. Their current roster consists of some big names like Maxwell, Amla, Miller, Stonis and Saha. Nevertheless, the data above does tell us that KXIP lags behind in the 2 main segments, segment 1 (overs 1- 6 ) and segment 4(overs 16–20 ); clearly implying the need for a stronger top order and a lower middle order which can take the team through.

Based on these primary requirements, KXIP could consider the following players for their IPL auction.

1. Martin Guptill
Guptill is one of the most explosive openers in T20 and has been in good form post the Australia, New Zealand T20 series. He comes with an experience of 170 matches and a strike rate close to 128. His combination with Murali Vijay at the top can provide a solid foundation for the innings. The Mohali track, is a pacy one and can suit his style of play.

2. Jason Roy
Having caught the eye of a number of franchises post his impressive tour of India, Jason Roy will definitely be a sought after opener this season.

3. Aditya Tare
He had a good Domestic season last year accompanied by a T20 strike rate and an average of close to 132 and 33 respectively. Tare is definitely a safe bet as a top order batsman, to help lay the foundation of the innings.

4. Corey Anderson
The kiwi is an experienced campaigner in the IPL. He has definitely matured as an allrounder and is an explosive left handed finisher with a strike rate of 140. He can also provide some useful overs with his left arm fast-medium bowling.

5. Angelo Mathews
The captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team will bring in vast experience to whichever squad he joins. His average of 27 and strike rate of 130 will make him a flexible player in the batting order and is worth considering.

6. Prithvi Shaw (Wild pick)
Prithvi had an impressive Ranji run and was instrumental in taking Mumbai to the final. He can be a good cheap buy for the Kings XI.

7. Evin Lewis (Wild Pick)
The left handed Caribbean batsman who hit Binny for 5 consecutive sixes has an impressive T20 strike rate of 135 with over 1500 runs in his entire career.

Taking the current team into consideration and the suggestion, Kings XI have their best 7 as follows

1. Murali Vijay
2. Martin Guptill
3. Wriddhiman Saha
4. Glen Maxwell
5. Gurkeerat Singh Mann / Aditya Tare
6. David Miller
7. Marcus Stoinis / Corey Anderson / Angelo Mathews

The index calculations did show a deficiency in first segment and the last segment. The first segment should get tackled by the experience of Guptill and Vijay. Depending on the situation, Maxwell’s position can be rotated. The middle segments should have either Saha or Gurkeerat Singh at the crease to negate the spin in the mid overs. The last segment can have Miller and Stoinis walk in, and score 50 runs plus in the last segment. As we have seen, KXIP have some glaring holes to fill in their batting lineup, and we have come up with a list of available players who we think would help them stem the tide and re-emerge as a successful IPL team this season.

Let’s see how the IPL 2017 player auction goes. We will be doing an analysis of the auction to see which team did well to cover its gaps, and which didn’t.

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