Is Batting First A Better Option Than Bowling In IPL 2020?

It has become a trend in T20 cricket that after winning the toss, teams usually prefer bowling first. The primary reason is while batting second, teams get a clear picture of the target required. Assessing the UAE’s pitches, the captains aren’t sure of the target deemed necessary in the first innings.

The Dew Factor

Dew plays a significant role in forcing the teams in not wishing to bowl with the wet ball in the second inning. The spinners cannot grip the ball, and pacers cannot seam the ball; hence, the bowlers end up bowling full tosses and lollies. The ball also skids onto the bat well, which allows the teams to chase huge targets from even impossible situations.

How has the trend changed this year?

This year at the start of the tournament, we have seen many teams electing to field after winning the toss. 

However, results have gone the other way; that is, the teams that win the toss also lose the match.

In 23 matches played so far this year, only on five occasions teams batting second have won, excluding the two super-overs.

However, in 2019, 34 out of 60 matches teams batting second have won the match, excluding the two super-overs and one no result.

Why do we see such variations?

1. Change of Venue: This year, since the venue has been shifted to UAE away from India, we expect a change in the batting first inning average scores.

2. Change of Timings: Over the years, IPL has started at 8:00 PM local and ends at 11:45 PM. The dew starts increasing by nightfall, whereas this year, the UAE’s matches are starting at 6:00 PM local and end at 10:00 PM. The amount of dew is marginally less compared to India as the matches end before late at night.

3. Pitches: As the matches are played across three venues, some teams must play on the used pitches. In that case, teams batting second often find themselves playing on the 4th inning pitch. The pitches become slow as the match progresses, making it exceedingly difficult for the batsmen to chase huge targets.

4. Pressure: While batting first, the batsmen usually bat with a free mind and take on the bowlers by playing aggressive cricket. Their main objective is to knock out the opposition by scoring high totals. 

Whereas the batsmen batting second feel the pressure of scoring quick runs in the power-play and stay within the required run-rate. Some teams like Chennai Super Kings try to take the match till the end by not throwing wickets but leave it too much for the finishers to chase the target.

In Sharjah, the boundaries are short, and we see big totals of 200+ runs scored. No target is safe at that stadium, which eventually tempts the teams to chase in that stadium. But we have seen teams defending totals at Sharjah too.

Therefore, as we advance in IPL-2020, we will see most teams batting first irrespective of the dew and pitch. Despite the limitation of venues in UAE, we have seen an average first inning total of 170+ runs. Credit goes to the ground staff and curators for maintaining these pitches well. Hopefully, we will see the same quality wickets throughout the tournament.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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