Data Q&A with Deccan Gladiators’ analyst Prasanna Agoram

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Prasanna Agoram has been a cricket data analyst for over a decade.

The veteran has worked with the South Africa men’s team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals among others in the Indian Premier League and is now in his fourth season as an analyst in the Abu Dhabi T10.

Prasanna Agoram is currently working with the Deccan Gladiators.

With the world of cricket, especially limited-overs, being predominantly driven by data and statistics, Prasanna Agoram chats about topics like how to pick a T10 team, the ideal team composition, the importance of matchups and names the successor to Andre Russell.

Q. What do you make of the Deccan Gladiators’ season so far?

A. See, the Abu Dhabi T10 is a format completely dominated by batsmen and the bowler has got nothing to do. The slam-bang attitude of a batsman comes into play and for a bowler, it’s about how to minimise that effect.

So far, we have been able to do that and I’m enjoying season 5.

Q. What will the ideal T10 team look like?

A. I think the best T10 team should have five power-hitting batsmen, who can consistently deliver at the top and at least four specialist bowlers. A wicket-keeper and an all-rounder will then form the perfect XI.

The Abu Dhabi T10 is a matter of just 60 balls per innings. Even if a team bats poorly, they do not lose more than five or six wickets.

So there is no point in filling your team with power hitters or all-rounders at No. 8 or No. 9, you will not be able to utilise those resources as well as you want. I think those positions should be occupied by bowlers and if they can hit a few sixes, it is an added advantage.

That’s why my approach with Deccan Gladiators was to have as balanced a team as possible.

Q. Could you talk us through your team-building strategy?

A. Team building is probably the most important aspect in the Abu Dhabi T10 – I’d say half your job is done if you pick the right squad.

Since T10 is still an emerging format, there is not much data available like for T20. So, the aspect I pay the most attention to in a batsman is his range of shots.

The two powerplay overs really set the tone for a T10 innings, so it’s key that a batsman has the ability to hit the good balls for six. It is not just about coming in and slogging, they also have to have the technique to adapt because the bowler will have multiple variations.

It’s imperative that you look at the right stats because sometimes the numbers do lie!

Q. With T10 being such a batsman-dominated format, what sort of strategy advice do you give to bowlers?

A. A bowler inherently is not allowed to settle in the Abu Dhabi T10 because a few dot balls and the batting team will invariably lose the match.

So when I speak to my bowlers, I give them a plan A, plan B and plan C based on the type – and strengths and weaknesses – of batsmen they will face. Two of those plans will be to not allow the batsman to hit in the areas he is comfortable with.

Matchups are a massive factor in this format. A matchwinner like Wanindu Hasaranga for example – you need to know when exactly to deploy him.

You could get greedy and bowl him in the powerplay because he is that good, but Wanindu’s most potent weapon is the googly, which is very tough to pick, so you need to pick the right batsman to which he can bowl that delivery.

Q. Who has impressed you the most so far in the Deccan Gladiators?

A. I think the next big thing – and people may say it’s too early – but I believe the next Andre Russell to emerge will be Odean Smith. He is raw and young, he may not have the experience yet but he has all the ingredients to succeed.

The other guy I love is our opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore, he was one of the first names I recommended to head coach Mushtaq Ahmed. Not many people have seen him bat, but he is another 360-degree player who has a wide range of shots.

You saw him hitting four consecutive sixes off a bowler like Adil Rashid (vs Delhi Bulls) but he can also play the reverse lap and just as easily hit it through the covers. The England team debut is not too far away for him.

Q. Do you think a T10 team needs an anchor?

A. An anchor (in a T20 game) is someone who can bat 40 or 50 balls at a strike rate of 115-120 without losing their wicket. It protects the team from a collapse and allows your other power hitters to properly express themselves.

That concept does not apply to a T10 team. It is such a quick format that all you need is two good overs from the bowling team to completely stifle your opponents.

Take the match vs Team Abu Dhabi (one of Deccan Gladiators’ two losses this season), where we slipped to 18/5 and yet posted 97. We only lost that match on the last ball!

In those situations, which could arise because you are still looking to attack each ball, the team balance helps you.

Wanindu Hasaranga hit 30 that day and Odean Smith played a breezy innings of 34 lower down the order, which helped us recover. If we can take the fight in such a game, it tells you how well we have set the team up.

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