With IPL 2023 in the past now, and Chennai Super Kings back to being the top dogs, here's a look at the main takeaways.
Home advantage is no advantage
This was a strange season where teams failed to take advantage of their home conditions in quite the same way as before. Of the 69 completed games in the league stage, home teams won just 27. That win percentage of 39.1 was the poorest in any IPL season. The previous lowest was 44.3% in 2012.
Only three teams - Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans - had a positive win-loss record at home. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings fared the worst, managing just one win each from their seven home matches respectively, while Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals won two each.
One reason behind it could be that since the tournament was being played in the home-and-away format after three seasons, the teams took some time to re-familiarise themselves with their home conditions. The reshuffle after the 2022 mega auction, too, meant that certain players had little experience of playing at their new home grounds.
Making the most of the Impact Player
Before the tournament began, there was a lot of intrigue around the rule. By the end of the first week, though, almost all the teams had settled into a template: go with an extra batter if batting first and replace him with a bowler in the second innings, or vice versa. So cricket, essentially, became a 12 vs 12 contest, with deeper batting and bowling units.
Royals were the only team that failed to take full advantage of this provision, fielding just five bowlers in their bowling XI at times.
Mumbai in the Eliminator, and a couple of others earlier in the tournament, showed a more effective way. Batting first against Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai went in one batter short, allowing themselves the option of bringing in yet another bowler while defending.
It did not go to plan, though. Mumbai suffered a mini-collapse and had to bring in batter Nehal Wadhera as their Impact Player for Suryakumar Yadav. But there was no downside to it as they already had an extra bowler in their original XI. If the IPL continues with the Impact Player rule, we could see other teams following Mumbai's strategy when batting first.
Quick runs, super-sized totals
This was easily the most high-scoring IPL season. Overall, runs were scored at 8.99 per over, a big jump from the previous best of 8.64, which was achieved in 2018.
The Impact Player rule had a big role in it. With the extra batter available, the teams batted with more freedom, and scored 200 or more 37 times - more than double the previous record of 18, set last year.
A closer look at the scoring patterns reveals that once teams got going, they kept going. As a result, there were not too many mid-range totals. Only 33.78% of first innings ended in the range of 140 to 179. That's the lowest for any season.
Win toss, field first? Think again
In T20 cricket, teams generally prefer to chase after winning the toss. That way, they can pace their innings according to the target. And if it's a night game, dew can help them as well.
In IPL 2023, too, the teams largely followed that template. They opted to chase in 53 out of 74 matches. However, they won only 23 of those, and lost 29, with one washout. Overall, chasing teams had a 33-40 win-loss record. Only once before did chasing teams have it worse, in 2015, when they won 24 and lost 32.
The Impact Player rule played a part here as well. With the cushion of an extra batter, the teams batted with less restraint this year and constantly posted above-par totals. Dew didn't have a huge impact either, thus defending was relatively more comfortable as well.
Rise of the Indian domestic finisher
When Mumbai picked Tim David for INR 8.25 crore at the 2022 mega auction, their owner Akash Ambani said that once they knew Hardik Pandya would no longer be with them [having gone to Titans], his slot had to go to an overseas player, because there was no one quite like Hardik in India.
That wasn't off the mark, but things changed drastically this season. This was the first IPL where Indian uncapped batters outperformed the capped Indians and overseas players at the death.
Rinku Singh led the way. Jitesh Sharma and Dhruv Jurel were as destructive as anyone. And Rahul Tewatia did Rahul Tewatia things. Overall, uncapped Indian batters had a strike rate of 172.60 in the last four overs; the rest 164.95.
More spin at the death
The use of spin at the death saw a significant jump in IPL 2023 over the last couple of years. In 2021, spinners had bowled 8.6% of the death overs. That figure increased to 12.8% in 2022. This time, it was 17.4%, the highest in an IPL season since 2014.
Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Rashid Khan and Maheesh Theekshana were used the most at the death as many captains invariably deployed spin for at least one over in that phase.
Crucially, spinners even outperformed their fast-bowling counterparts in that phase, registering an economy of 9.19 and a strike rate of 11.4. The corresponding numbers for fast bowlers were 10.94 and 12.8.
With stat inputs from Shiva Jayaraman