The IPL website will give you a list of the bowlers who have managed to deliver the highest number of dot balls in the competition’s history but what about the batsmen that have faced the lowest number of dot balls?
If we were simply to look at the total number of dot balls faced by batsmen in the IPL then it’s not too much of a surprise to find the likes of Virat Kohli, Shikar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma leading the way as these are also the 3 batsman who have faced the most number of balls in the IPL full stop.
Therefore, looking at the dot balls as a % of all deliveries faced seems a fairer assessment of which batsmen are best at getting off strike.
Starting with those who have used up the most deliveries without scoring perhaps the biggest surprise is to see Australian great Ricky Ponting so high up on the list, a man who captained his side to multiple limited over tournament victories including 2 x World Cups.
|Batsman||Dot ball %|
However, Ponting isn’t the only stroke maker of that generation to have a dot ball % that wouldn’t pass muster in the T20 era. Sanath Jayasuria, Sourav Ganguly, Herschelle Gibbs and Adam Gilchirst, all batsmen renowned for their swash buckling approach to the game, had a dot ball percentage above 45% for their time in the Indian Premier League.
By contrast most of the current greats of the game and players that have grown up playing T20 cricket hover around 35% or to put it another way they only allow 1 dot ball in every 3 faced. These include MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli as well as the likes of David Warner and Suresh Raina all players who have been involved in the IPL since its early days and remain key players for their respective franchises today.
What this also suggests is that while scoring rates have undoubtedly gone up since the IPL started back in 2007, it might not solely be off the back of bigger hitting (something we’ll look at in a future blog) but as much around manipulating the field, hitting the gaps and running hard. Equally, some might argue that in the modern game giving a big hitting batsman a single and getting him off strike is almost as good a result as a dot ball!
As for the big hitters, it might not come as any great surprise that a few of them have a slightly higher dot ball %. Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh and Shane Watson for example all rank high on the all time 6 hitting list but also use up quite a few deliveries in getting their eye in leading to higher dot ball percentages of jjhd jhdjh djhdh respectively. The eagled amongst you may also note that these are 3 players who could be charitably described as being ‘athletically challenged’, particularly in their later years.
Perhaps the true champion then and a man who needs little introduction to fans of white ball cricket around the world is AB de Villiers, 2nd on the all time six hitting list and with a power game to rival anyone out there, he also appears to be a master of manipulating the strike with one of the lowest dot ball % seen.
|Batsman||Dot ball %|
|A Ashish Reddy||30.05%|
|AB de Villiers||30.34%|
By contrast, the man at the top of the list is not a household name. Bipul Sharma was one of several players from Punjab Ranji who opted to try his luck in the break away ICL back in 2007 but after 2 largely unsuccessful years the league folded and Sharma, along with many others, was forced to seek amnesty in a bid to rejoin the domestic circuit and potentially the IPL.
In 2010 he joined Kings XI Punjab where he spent 4 years as a back-up player for the franchise making 15 appearances in total including just a single outing during the 2013 campaign. Having been dropped from the KXIP roster and failing to find a franchise at all for 2014 season it looked like Bipul Sharma would become a forgotten man on the world’s biggest T20 stage.
However, a lucky break saw him picked up by the Sunrisers Hyderabad Team for the 2015 season as a replacement for the injured Laxmi Shulka and while once again he was by no means an automatic pick for the franchise he did deliver some key moments for the men in orange as they secured their maiden IPL title in 2016.
Bipul Sharma played just 7 matches in the 2016 edition of the IPL but that included all 3 of the knockout games that SRH were required to win to lift the title. He started well in the Qualifier against Gujarat Lions by striking a useful 14 from 6 balls to accelerate the Sunrisers score past 160, a total that ultimately proved too much for the Lions.
Then in the eliminator against KKR he played a gem of an innings (27 off 11 balls with 3 x sixes) in support of his captain David Warner to see the Sunrisers into the final in what was a dramatic run chase. Coming to the crease with the score at 117-6, the Sunrisers still needed 46 from 25 balls but thanks to Sharma’s powerful hitting completed the chase in relative comfort with 4 balls to spare. You can watch highlights of the run chase here.
The final saw no such fireworks with the bat although Bipul Sharma did claim the crucial wicket of AB de Villiers as SRH successfully defended their first innings score of 208 to lift the IPL trophy. It was to be the high point of Bipul Sharma’s IPL career with the 2017 season once again seeing him getting limited playing time before he went unsold in the 2018 and 2019 auctions.
Bipul Sharma remains a key player on the domestic circuit in all formats with both bat and ball, playing for the Chandigarh side and while the glitz and glamour of the IPL are now behind him he will be making a move over to the UK this summer to play cricket for Formby in the Liverpool League.