How this data scientist used analytics to optimize CSK’s bidding strategy

The 2011 movie Moneyball was loosely based on how a cash-strapped baseball team, Oakland Athletics, changed its fortunes with the pioneering use of Sabermetrics. Billy Beane, the team’s general manager, and Peter Brand, an economics grad with wet ears, devised an analytics-based strategy to build the team using underrated players and ended up winning. 20 consecutive games. Sabermetrics is the empirical analysis of in-game activity to extract insights.

Source: Giphy

In 2006, former Australian coach John Buchanan introduced the “Cricket Athlete Management System” to manage all aspects of the game, from player preparation to final performance. A few years later, IPL embraced sports analysis with open arms.

Apoorva Bhide, Data Scientist at Kabaddi Adda was part of the IPL 2022 auction with Chennai Super Kings. In a post on LinkedIn, he wrote: “It was a very difficult auction to model due to the addition of two new teams, but we did our best to support management – and I think CSK has builds a team with real depth and firepower.”

Dhanya Parameshwaran, Suhail Chandhok, Arvind Sivdas and Vikas Gautam founded sports technology and analytics company Kabaddi Adda in 2019. The company was featured on Shark Tank India and secured an investment of Rs 80 lakh. Kabaddi Adda also provides analytical services to CSK.

Bhide and his data science team at Kabaddi Adda worked with CSK to help them design strategies to get the most out of player bidding. Analytics India Magazine caught up with Bhide to find out more about the role of analytics in cricket.

Source: LinkedIn

The trip

Bhide studied electronics and communications engineering and moved into the field of data science. “Data science is a great field for a generalist like me, someone with varied interests and generally enjoys solving problems that lie at the intersection of different disciplines. For example, the recent auction IPL – was an issue at the intersection of cricket, economics and data. I like that,” he said.

Bhide’s work mainly revolves around two main topics: preparing a data-driven player performance portfolio and social media engagement. The process of building the performance portfolio for players, in particular, is a highly data-driven task. “It’s a little more nuanced than the stats you commonly see. It’s highly dependent on the data available – the more you have, the better decisions you can make. We go beyond basic metrics such as hitting and bowling styles,” he said.

Bhide said his work is more descriptive than predictive. “It’s just trying to give the coach, captain or management an idea of ​​what exactly is happening on the pitch or what kind of decisions they need to make in particular situations. In whatever something like an auction, you can be a little more predictive. But again, there’s not really a criteria. It’s more of a Monte Carlo simulation than a linear regression model Bhide said.

In 2018, CSK decided to adopt the Moneyball strategy. Despite data suggesting older players are a strain on the team, CSK have picked players – based on nuanced analysis – over the age of 35 when other teams have focused on younger talent. And it turned out to be a winning formula. “Data helps add those little values,” Bhide said.

The future of sports analytics

“I think every sport can benefit from analytics, basically. It’s a way of looking at a problem and trying to quantify it. It helps you use data to find an edge and avoid human bias to make a suboptimal decision,” Bhide said.

The Rajasthan Royals, considered underdogs in the first IPL season, managed to lift the trophy with a little help from the data, Bhide said. That said, in general, Indian sports teams are “slower” in adopting data analytics. Bhide said sports like Kabaddi would benefit massively from data analysis. In terms of techniques, the sport is very analogous to basketball, he added. “The NBA relies on a treasure trove of data. They were able to leverage this data to significantly improve the game. However, when it comes to Kabaddi, there is little to no data. In fact, when Kabaddi Adda started, no one was collecting and analyzing this data. This should eventually change. Bhide also believes that table tennis can also benefit from sports analytics.

When asked if gaming puritans are against bringing data and numbers into sport, Bhide said, “You can know how a flower is on a cellular level while enjoying its beauty. Analysis is just to give you an edge, it doesn’t necessarily alter the “beauty of the game”, it just makes it better. »

Sean N. Ayres