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Stats Analysis

The sloppiest IPL of them all? Here's what the numbers say

Which team has the worst catching rate? Which bowler has missed out on the most wickets? And which batter has lucked out the most? All the key questions: answered

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
Avesh Khan and Sanju Samson go for the same catch, and it goes down  •  BCCI

Avesh Khan and Sanju Samson go for the same catch, and it goes down  •  BCCI

There have been plenty of batting and bowling highlights in the first 29 matches of IPL 2024, but in terms of fielding, it hasn't been a season to remember. There have been some spectacular catches as expected in a league of high-class athletes, but overall the catching has left much to be desired.
Of the 360 catching and stumping chances created so far, only 273 have resulted in dismissals. The success rate of 75.83% is the lowest by far in the last five IPL seasons. From a rate of 2.07 drops per match last season, the figure has jumped up to 3.0, an increase of 45%.
The sloppiest teams on the field - in terms of chances missed - have been Delhi Capitals and Gujarat Titans, with 12 and 11 drops, while Kolkata Knight Riders follow closely on 10. However, as a percentage of total chances created, the Capitals have the worst percentage of less than 68, while the Titans and Knight Riders are under 75%.
Mumbai Indians have had a poor start to the season, but the one aspect where they are the best so far is in terms of holding on to their chances: their efficiency of 81.82% is the best, marginally ahead of Chennai Super Kings' 79.41.

Punjab Kings biggest beneficiaries

The Kings have enjoyed 15 such reprieves, six more than the number they have spilled. Three of those reprieves came in one over against Sunrisers Hyderabad when Ashutosh Sharma was dropped three times off Jaydev Unadkat in a thrilling chase where they fell short. The only other team with a positive net score of six is Sunrisers: they have missed eight chances but have been reprieved 14 times - four of those to Travis Head.
On the other hand, the Titans have a score of minus nine: they've enjoyed only two reprieves, but have generously offered 11 to opposition batters. Six of those came in matches they eventually won, but there were a couple of expensive let-offs too: Ashutosh was dropped on three and went on to make a 17-ball 31 in a winning run-chase, while Ruturaj Gaikwad was put down on one in the first over, and went on to score 46.

Warner, Maxwell drops, a surprise?

The two fielders who have messed up most often are Harshal Patel and Abdul Samad, with four drops each. The more unexpected names in that list are David Warner and Glenn Maxwell. Maxwell has not only had a wretched time with the bat, with 32 runs from six innings, but has also shelled three tough chances.
At the other end of the list are the players who've gobbled up all the chances that have come their way. Among those with a spotless record, Nicholas Pooran, Dhruv Jurel and KL Rahul are the leaders with six dismissals (in Rahul's case, that includes a stumping). There are four others with a clean 4-0 record so far.
Ashutosh's IPL career is only three innings old, but he has already benefited from six reprieves, the most among all batters in the tournament. As mentioned earlier, three of those came in one over. Head and Riyan Parag have had four let-offs, while Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Phil Salt have had three.
It's one thing to get a reprieve, and quite another to make it count. Against the Kings, Kohli was dropped second ball by Jonny Bairstow, and ended up with 77; against Rajasthan Royals, Nandre Burger dropped a tough one when Kohli was on 65, and he finished on 113. Kohli's 125 runs are the most by any batter after being dropped, and those runs came at a strike rate of 171. Parag, who has added 100 more in the three innings where he has been dropped, is the only other batter to push the century mark after getting reprieved. (In innings where a batter has been dropped multiple times, the first reprieve is considered).
The most runs scored by a batter after a let-off is Jos Buttler's 94 against RCB after Cameron Green dropped a tough one when he was on six. Kohli's 77 against the Kings is next, followed by Parag's 76 against the Titans when he dropped first ball by Matthew Wade.
And finally, a look at the hapless bowlers who have suffered the most due to these missed chances: Khaleel Ahmed and Sam Curran have had four catches dropped off their bowling. Khaleel's four includes the slash by Salt which was missed by Rishabh Pant but ended up being signalled as byes by the umpire.
All is not lost though. With more than half the season remaining, every team has an opportunity to improve their numbers.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats