David Warner and Russell Arnold have been the most impactful players of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 so far. Even as Jonny Bairstow has scored more runs, Russell edge ahead on the IPL Moneyball Impact Index for his all-around abilities.
The West Indies all-rounder in the four IPL games for Kolkata Knight Riders this season has struck 207 runs, averaging 103.5, with the highest strike rate of 268.83. None of the top ten batsmen comes closer. The second best Bairstow is 167.34, more than 100 behind Russell, who this season has been scoring at the rate of 16 runs per over and more than two and a half run per ball.
The Kolkata Knight Riders this season have won three of their two games. At least two of these wins belong to Russell. Not merely for the volume of runs, he has produced. But for the phenomenal pace of his scoring – reigning sixes at will and changing the norms for hard-hitting. Russell in the four games this season has slammed 22 sixes, precisely double than next best and fellow Kolkata Knight Nitish Rana.
Russell so far has faced a mere 77 deliveries – for many not even sufficient to accumulate 100 runs. But this man in marauding mood has gone past 200. Has despatched 36 of the 77 deliveries hurled at him past the fence – 22 of them aerially. Each of his four innings have been entertaining aerial acts. When the shoulders were down in the KKR camp, when the rivals would start thinking of victory celebrations, this impactful player walks out in the middle and turns the table.
Coming out in the lower middle order, Russell doesn’t get the liberty of the number of balls the way table topper Warner, or Bairstow have. But he has an array of undefined, unconventional shots that any batsman would dream to add to his armoury. He just stands and delivers. He moves on the pitch and delivers. His power-packed back-foot punches delivers. Ballers are massacred mercilessly. He is redefining the art of batting with the white ball.
In four games he has bagged five wickets, too. That is the Moneyball impact of this all-rounder.
Among others, Warner is the table topper with 267 impact points, just three points ahead of Russell, and then comes Bairstow with 249 points.
Among Indians, Rishabh Pant has been the most impactful player of the IPL 2019 so far. The Delhi Capitals batsman-wicketkeeper has scored 164 runs, executed two stumping and snapped seven catches behind the wickets. Rana, another big hitter, has been scoring at the strike rate of 159.43. Pant has lacked in consistency and consolidating his innings after good starts.
If SunRisers Hyderabad are the table toppers after the first four rounds, it is the joint effort of Warner and Bairstow backed by the battery of their lethal bowlers, but for the second-placed KKR Russell has been turning the game their way almost single-handedly if not in terms of runs, then with the pace of his scoring. That is the IPL Moneyball impact of one single player.