Duckworth Lewis and its history with IPL

Duckworth Lewis and Stern method are employed in world cricket to determine the target for the team batting second in the match when there isn’t much time to bowl the complete overs in the second innings. DLS method is used to calculate scores in modern-day limited overs cricket and has been criticized many times for its illogical calculation of the target., most famous of it being against South Africa in the world cup. Studies have shown that only 6% percent of the international matches require the use of DLS method to calculate the target but even these turn out to be shocked at times. However, inclement weather condition is not the only reason due to which this method is brought into use but there were instances in the past like, swarm of flying ants stopped match for 45 minutes in South Africa and in Nepal, a match was halted due to political protest, that has caused the matches to be delayed and officials are left with no choice but to use DLS method to determine target in new playing conditions. The method became the talk of the town when it was employed in the IPL 2018 game between DD and RR.

The Advent Of DLS


 The method was devised by 2 Englishmen Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis and after their retirement, Professor Steven Stern became the custodian of the method and it was renamed to Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method (or DLS method). The method takes into consideration the 2 resources available to play the game, i.e. number of overs left to play and the number of wickets in hand for the team batting. The system then adjusts the previously set target in proportion to these resources and comes up with the new target that is supposed to be equally difficult as the original one for the team chasing it. The method was used first in an international match between Zimbabwe and England on 1st Jan 1997. ICC adopted the method officially in 1999 to calculate the score of a rain-curtailed match. The method gives target based on the stoppages in the game and provides targets if there was a stoppage in 1st innings, stoppage in 2nd innings or stoppages in both the innings.

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Criticism of the method

 The following table is used in the matches to match the resources left in the game for the team and what percentage they would be using in terms of a curtailed match.

Percentage total resources remaining reference table (D/L Standard Edition)
Overs remaining Wickets in hand
10 8 6 4 2
50 100.0 85.1 62.7 34.9 11.9
40 89.3 77.8 59.5 34.6 11.9
30 75.1 67.3 54.1 33.6 11.9
20 56.6 52.4 44.6 30.8 11.9
10 32.1 30.8 28.3 22.8 11.4
5 17.2 16.8 16.1 14.3 9.4

Despite its success in the recent past, the method was always criticized for not being able to give the fair target as per the game. The main criticism was drawn from the fact that the weight assigned to the wickets as the resources were much more than the overs remaining. It gives the opposition to score at below average rate to get to the score and hold wickets in hands to have the advantage when the method comes into play after 20 overs in an ODI. This discrepancy was recognized by ICC and eliminated in its update of the method in 2015. Another criticism of the method was because it does not consider the fielding restrictions in the game and thus could not provide the best target for the game.

Problems in T20 matches

With the advent of the shorter form of the game, ICC started using the method for its T20 games as well. It has garnered a lot of criticism from worldwide against its use in T20 games. The main area of criticism is because of the fact the shorter form of the game is susceptible to change in the light of a high scoring over. The run rate changes at a higher rate as the number of overs remaining to bowl are reduced. Apart from being unequal, the method is very complex for support staff and fans to understand which brings in the ambiguity over its use in a game.

ALSO SEE: Duckworth Lewis and its history with IP

Use of DLS in IPL and its criticism

 The DLS method is used by BCCI and the IPL Governing Council to decide the matches where rain has played a spoilsport. Since there is no reserve day for playing the matches, the method becomes critical in such situation. In past several teams have shown their displease over the use of the method as it does not take into account the intensity of the match. Stephen Fleming in 2016 openly criticized the method when his team Rising Pune Supergiants lost to KKR via DLS. He cited that the Board needs to find an alternative for the method in T20s as this method is not fair for the shortest form of the game. Another incident of the same kind happened in 2017 when KKR ousted the champions SRH using DLS. The match was criticized as the KKR was given a renewed target and full 10 wickets to get to it. Again, the method’s weakness to favor the team batting second was exposed. The method was developed as per the 50 over the game and the weightage given to overs remaining and wickets in hand is as per an ODI, not T20. Another problem cited with the method is that by focusing on preserving resources, the system does not directly attempt to preserve winning probabilities.

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There seems to be no other method that can accurately predict the targets for the teams in T20 matches and thus DLS still remains usable in the game. Till the time a tested alternative is found, we would have to deal with the atrocities of the method.

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