K L Rahul is still MVPI

Purnendu Maji and Srinivas Bhogle list IPL 2020’s 50 Most Valuable Players up to Match 25.

It’s a funny kind of IPL for K L Rahul, and indeed also for his opening partner Mayank Agarwal.

They have been the most prolific scorers — both have centuries, and decent strike rates, and currently top the MVPI rankings.

But their team, Kings XI Punjab, faces a real risk of being bottom of the table.

Rahul has a MVPI of 370, with Mayank just behind at 368.

Here’s a quick recap of how we calculate the MVPI.

The average team score in this IPL is 180 (actually, 184, after the 25th game).

So, the par strike rate is 9 runs per over, or 150.

This means that a batsman is expected to score 1.5 runs per ball faced.

What if he scores less than 1.5 runs per ball? Then he hurts the team’s cause.

On the other hand, if the batsman scores more than 1.5 runs per ball, then he helps the team’s cause.

We use this information to build a reward-penalty run model.

Rahul has scored 387 runs so far, but used 287 balls for a strike rate of 134.8.

Because of the lower strike rate, Rahul’s 387 runs is valued to be only like 343.5 ‘runs’.

Mayank scored 337 runs at a strike rate of 159, which is better than par.

So, his ‘run equivalent’ is effectively 356.

This is the ‘batting performance’ contribution to the MVPI.

For bowlers, the story plays out quite similarly.

Consider Kagiso Rabada of the Delhi Capitals.

He has 15 wickets so far.

With a par innings score of 180, we will argue that every wicket is worth 18 runs.

So Rabada has contributed a ‘bowling performance’ equivalent to 15*18 = 270 ‘runs’.

Better still, Rabada has conceded 185 runs in as many as 142 balls for an economy rate of 7.8, which is better than the par economy rate of 9.

So that rewards him an extra 28 ‘runs’ for an overall ‘bowling performance’ equivalent to 298 ‘runs’.

If a bowler concedes more runs than the par economy rate, he is penalized and has runs subtracted for his bowling performance tally.

That’s the general idea of THE MVPI.

A player’s MVPI is the sum of his batting, bowling and fielding ‘runs’ (there are fielding ‘runs’ too; 18 runs if a batsman is run out by a direct hit).

Some readers must wonder why we openly reveal the formula to calculate the MVPI instead of pretending that it is some intelligent black box.

For two reasons: First, we want to reassure readers that MVPI is calculated based on valid cricketing arguments, and, second, because we are inveterate cricket romantics who find numbers as enticing as Brian Lara’s cover drive (just seeing him mimic that cover drive in the Star Sports Dugout is more pleasing than anything that Rahul Tewatia might do on the actual cricket field).

To be fair, Tewatia is having an excellent IPL.

He is placed 7th with a MVPI of 276.

Table: IPL 2020: Best Performing Players so far (up to Match 25 ending 11.10.20)

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