Monday, March 19, 2007

A flaw in the net run rate system

There is now one more reason for the Indians to put the opposition in to bat if they win the toss. Group B faces the prospect of its standings being determined by net run rates. And it's easier to boost your net run rate batting second against a weak team like Bermuda, because of a flaw in the system. Let me explain this with an example, but you have to be patient because it involves a little arithmetic.
Sri Lanka got a net run rate of 4.86 against Bermuda with a victory margin of 243 runs. To do better than that, while batting first like Sri Lanka, India would have to score say 400 and bowl Bermuda out for 150, for a net run rate of 5.00. Now if Bermuda were to bat first, and get 150, India would have to knock off those runs in the 19th over for the same net run rate of 5.00. The second way is easier because it requires a scoring rate of 8 an over for 20 overs and not the full 50.
The catch in the system is that the net run rate takes no account of the number of wickets a team loses, unlike the Duckworth-Lewis system for rain-shortened games where a complex algorithm works out the potential runs a team could have got in 50 overs, based on both the runs scored in the reduced number of overs and the wickets in hand.
So, in the scenario I described, India would go hell for leather for a short burst of around 20 overs with a run rate of 8 or even 9 or 10, without worrying about how many wickets are lost in the process, presuming of course they don't get bowled out. To do that for 50 overs, which is what they would need to do if they bat first, is much harder.
I haven't seen any team, including the Australians who are otherwise redoubtable when it comes to systems, working this little quirk in the rules into their gameplan. I mean the rule of thumb should be to always bat second against the minnows. Instead, you generally see the big teams opting to bat first and knock off as many runs as they can. But it's not the number of runs, only the net run rate, that counts. This may well be a big factor in the Super 8 which is a round robin this time, and the first team to figure it out will have a little extra going for it.

1 comment:

sruthijith said...

Wow! the best cricket commentator in town has finally started a blog. And has been writing regularly. This is gr8. Lemme get down to spreading the word.