The dust has settled and we have the four semi-finalists in the T20 World Cup. And after a few days of upsets and nail biting finishes, the four semi-finalists are West Indies, England, New Zealand and India. South Africa, who many would have expected to make it to the last four were eliminated in the round robins. Upsets like these are not uncommon in sports and in the T20 format, probably more frequent than in the 50-over ODI format. Now, the question is whose world cup is it anyway? And does a team possess significant advantage over the rest of the field. Having watched each and every game and analyzed quite a significant amount of data, I would say that at this stage, it’s still very competitive and it could be anybody’s crown. I think it is probably worth analyzing the performance of the four teams that are in the semis and evaluate their relative strengths.
In my last blog just prior to the inaugural match of the T20 World Cup, I had performed some analysis on the performance of the players who are in the individual squads based on games played since 2014. I appended the performance in the tournament for the players from the four semi-finalist squads and calculated the composite statistics (see Chart A).
There are a few points that I would like to make. These are:
- First of all, the batting performance of the Indian team has been sub-par which is quite evident from the dramatic drop in the batting average in T20 world cup games as compared to the historical average. Such deterioration in batting average resulted in some challenges for the Men in Blue. However, performance of a team has to follow the laws of averages and reverting to mean is natural. I expect that ‘reversion to mean’ would mean that the Indian batsmen would perform much better in the knock out stages.
- The English side has shown remarkable improvement in its batting abilities. Against the Proteas, they chased down a mammoth total and scored well against West Indies and Sri Lanka. Three of their batsmen Joe Root, Jos Butler and JJ Roy have scored close to 400 runs. Also, please note that England is the only team whose strike rate has gone up during the world cup games.
- In bowling, New Zealand’s performance stands out. As compared to pre-world cup stats, the economy rate of the Kiwis has been almost 1.6 runs better in this world cup. In the 20 over game, that means 32 runs for the opposing team. Also, amongst the semi-finalists, the Kiwis have taken the maximum number of wickets (30 wickets in 4 games; Santner and Sodhi with 9 and 8 scalps respectively).
Based on the batting and bowling performances, let me analyze the relative advantages of the teams in the two semi-finals.
- Runs scored in overs 11 and later have more predictive power in determining the winner that the runs scored in power-play. That would obviously mean that it is important to preserve wickets so that the team can take chances and score faster in the later overs.
- It is not surprising that wickets taken between overs 7 and 10 and between 15 and 20 have high predictive power for the same reason stated in the prior bullet point.
- Runs scored in power-play and wickets taken or lost in power play are not as important as one might think. In other words, in T20 games, morning may not show the day. A good example is the Australia – India game where the Aussies scored 59 runs in power play for the loss of 1 wicket as compared to the Indians who scored 37 runs for the loss of 2 wickets. The Aussies were slowed down by some good bowling by the Indians and they lost the game with 5 balls to spare.