I was looking at the average runs scored per over in One Day Internationals from 2009 onwards (data from cricsheet ). The data is presented in the graph below. What is striking is the difference in runs scored per over between the team batting first and second.
The blue line shows the runs per over for the team batting first, and the red line for the team batting second. These figures are averaged over all ODIs from 2009 till the end of the recent Asia Cup. What you will notice is that the way you score runs in the first and second innings is different.
For the first part of the innings, till almost over 35, the team batting second scores much faster than the team batting first. Then somewhere around over 40, the two lines cross, And then the blue line pulls away from the red one – and really fast.
In the last over of the innings, for example, the team batting first is expected to score ten runs, while the team batting second is expected to score only eight and a half. In the forty fifth over, the team batting first scores seven runs on an average, while the chasing team only scores six!
The difference in scoring patterns is striking, and the only possible explanation is the pressure of chasing! When you have a target in mind, and you are chasing, you are unable to bat as freely as you do when you are setting a target. Consequently, you are not able to score as many runs!
The next question is if there is a variation across teams. Given below is the same graph as above, but plotted by batting team.
The graphs are smaller, so the gaps aren’t too visible, but if you look for a gap between the blue and red lines by team, you will find that the biggest gaps are for India, New Zealand and Australia! Sri Lanka and Pakistan seem to bat similarly, however, irrespective of whether they are setting a target or chasing!