There have been plenty of high-profile mistakes made by IPL teams over the past few months. The Sunrisers Hyderabad retained Kane Williamson over Rashid Khan ahead of the mega auction, Royal Challengers Bangalore decided to pair Faf du Plessis with Virat Kohli as an opening partnership, while the Kolkata Knight Riders formed a top order that can be blown over by the wind.
However, chief amongst these mistakes from IPL franchises this season was Mumbai Indians’ decision to sign Tim David for 8.25 Cr at the auction before dropping him after just two matches. For a team with a reputation for being analytics friendly and making calculated decisions, this was a cataclysmic error which had no real rationalisation.
After spending nearly 10% of their purse on the Australian, the five-time champions inexplicably dropped David after just an 11-ball sample in two terribly challenging situations. To exacerbate their error, Mumbai played their fourth fixture of the season against RCB with just two overseas players in the XI, effectively selecting Ramandeep Singh over Tim David to play the finisher’s role.
Six consecutive defeats later, Mumbai finally realised their mistake, eventually bringing David back into the fold at the expense of teenage sensation Dewald Brevis and allowing him to show why they invested all that money in him in the first place. In the five games since his return to the side, David has done just that, scoring 141 runs in 64 deliveries and playing game-changing knocks in their victories over Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Such has been his impact in the second half of the tournament that amongst all the players in this IPL who have faced a minimum of 75 deliveries, no one has a higher strike rate than Tim David (202). Not even the ageless Dinesh Karthik (191) or the mercurial Liam Livingstone (177).
So, what makes Tim David so unique, and why is he not your usual right-hander.
Well, let’s first look at his game against pace.
Tim David’s T20 record vs pace since 2021: Average: 30 | SR: 177 | Dot %: 29
Powered by his six-foot five-inch frame and long levers, David is a monster power-hitter who feasts on fast bowling for fun. Although David’s Achilles heel is high pace at a back of a length, the Singaporean superstar is incredibly dangerous against anything full – ask T Natarajan – due to his long reach.
Additionally, what makes David a particularly unique finisher, is his incredible game against spin.
David has not shown his prowess against spin in this IPL, striking at 128 against them this season compared to 228 against the pacers. However, those numbers are down to his delayed entry points rather than his skill. Contrary to public perception, David is one of the most destructive spin-hitters in the T20 circuit.
The numbers speak for themselves. Since Jan 1st 2021, David averages 40 runs per wicket against spin in T20 cricket at a strike rate of 138.5. The usual caveats apply that some of these numbers include appearances in tier two T20 competitions such as the BBL and the T20 blast, but David has performed well in tournaments such as the PSL, which are more spinner-friendly.
Furthermore, unlike most right-handers, who are more potent against off-spinners because they can hit with the spin and access the leg-side, David is more dangerous when facing away spin. Exactly like Nitish Rana, David defies conventional match-ups, and his record against left-arm spinners and leg-spinners is what you would expect from a left-hander.
|Player||Average||Strike Rate||Dot %|
|Avg IPL RHB||37.4||114.7||33.4|
David averages an astonishing 108 against left-arm spinners in T20 cricket since the start of 2021, getting out to that bowling type just once in 76 deliveries he faced. More impressively, David strikes at 142 against left-arm spinners, averaging 8.4 deliveries per six. These numbers in isolation are mind-boggling, but only when you compare them to an average right-hand batter do you realise how special David is.
As the table above shows, an average top seven right-hand batter in the IPL (who has faced a minimum of 100 deliveries) averages only 37 against this bowling type since 2018, at a much lower strike rate of 114.
|Player||Average||Strike Rate||Dot %|
|Avg IPL RHB||28.1||119.3||36.4|
The story remains the same against leg-spinners. Although David’s average reduces significantly against wrist-spinners, he scores at a similar rate of 140+ since 2021. Again, comparing it to all top 7 right-hand bats in the IPL since 2018, David scores at a significantly quicker rate, albeit at a slightly lower average.
This ability to take on away spin in conjunction with his game against pace makes David a unicorn in T20 cricket and shows why he must be an integral part of the Mumbai team in the years to come.
With Hardik Pandya now leading the ship at the Gujarat Titans and Kieron Pollard’s powers waning by the second, Mumbai have lacked the explosive lower-order muscle in IPL 2022 that defined their greatness in their pomp. However, in Tim David, the five-time champions might have found one piece of the puzzle for their next all-conquering side.
Following his incredible knock against SRH, David has already started playing audacious Pollard-esque acts of genius in Blue and Gold, and with the sun setting on the West Indian’s time in the Bay, Mumbai may be fortunate enough to have already found his replacement.