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Five reasons why teams prefer to bowl first in the IPL

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Roar Rookie
30th April, 2019

The 2019 edition of the IPL has been a thrilling one.

Both the three-time IPL champions are near the top of the table, with the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians firing again. Meanwhile, Royal Challengers Bangalore languish at the bottom.

The Indian Premier League started in 2008, and we’ve seen many changes to the game after all those years.

One thing that has not changed is that the team that wins the toss prefers to bowl first. Sides are consistently making this decision this season, and these are the five reasons why.

1. The success rate
According to the statistics, in nine of the 11 IPL seasons, teams that bowl first have been more successful than those that bat first. The exceptions are 2010 and 2015.

IPL franchises always check the stats, believe in the data, and plan accordingly.

2. Less pressure
When a team opts to bowl, they face less pressure than the team who is batting first.

This is because when a team starts an innings, they will not know what a good score would be.

They will have to take the time to analyse the pitch and the conditions to work out a good score to defend later.


Sometimes when there is more pressure, players will try to go big from ball one and wickets will fall regularly.

Often, batting line-ups collapse and reach a score that’s ultimately below-par.

Chennai’s MS Dhoni

(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

3. Ground size
The size of the ground also plays a part in the toss.

When the ground is small, teams know that they can chase any score on the pitch, so they opt to bowl first in grounds like the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.

At places like the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, teams would usually select to bat first as the pitch is quite slow there and spinners would usually come into play later on.

Also, the stats prove that low-scoring Chepauk pitches provide a better chance of winning to the side batting first.

Smart coaches check the past records of the venue to get an idea.


4. Dew factor
Dew also helps the team chasing. The bowling side will always have a tough time in the field at night, as the ball will be harder to grip and the chances of a dropped catch or a misfield also increase.

This is particularly the case in places like Mumbai.

5. Team strength
Another reason for chasing is the composition of the team. If a side has some big-hitting finishers or some capable batsmen who can chase down any target, teams will back their strength.

KKR, CSK and RCB are all confident doing this, because they have great finishers.

Andre Russell, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli are all excellent players, especially when chasing.