The most important players in Pro Kabaddi are the raiders. They are like the strikers in football and the batsmen in cricket. They are the showstoppers. They are the posterboys of kabaddi. You can see Anup Kumar, Rahul Chaudhari, Kashiling Adake and Ajay Thakur donning billboards in major metros. They can change the dynamics of a game with a single super raid. They are the ones the crowd come to watch and they are the names the audience have on their lips at the end of a game.
Now, the question arises, how do you identify a good raider? The easiest and most obvious way is by looking at their points scored. But is it the best way to judge a raider?
Lets take a look at the 20 of the best Raiders in the Pro Kabaddi League:
The best raider is Kashiling Adake from Dabang Delhi. He scored a whopping 114 points. Rahul is second with a distant 96 points and Ajay is even further away with 78.
In cricket, when comparing two batsmen who haven’t played equal number of games, we look at their batting averages. For Raiders, we have a similar metric – Raid Success Rate
Success Rate is Number of Successful Raids / Total number of Raids.
Successful raids are those raids where a raider touches an opponent or gets a bonus point
Let’s take a look at success rates of the Top 20 raiders
The Narwals from Jaipur Pink Panthers have a very high success rate and Kashi is not that far behind either. But, Ajay Thakur and Anup Kumar seem to have very low success rates. They are the main raiders for the two finalists in the league. This surely means that this is not capturing the complete picture. There is more to their game than what this stat suggests.
The raiders from the two finalists, U Mumba (Anup And Shabeer) and Bengaluru Bulls ( Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chillar), have among the lowest success rates in the chart. That is because they have a lot of empty raids. Empty raids are when the raider does not touch an opponent and does not get a bonus but retreats safely without getting caught. Teams sometimes intentionally raid empty to avoid the risk of losing the raider and also to force the opposition to take the risk on their raids. If we have to quantify the quality of raiders, the metric should be independent of the teams strategy. Now, if we calculate success rate after removing these empty raids, it should give a better picture of the quality of the raiders.
Success Rate without Empty raids
Success Raids Without Empty Raids ( SRE ) = Successful Raids/( Total Raids – Empty Raids)
This shows a better picture of the quality of the raiders. Sukesh Hegde and Prashanth Rai from Telugu Titans have pretty impressive SREs. Anup Kumar’s Success Rate has also jumped from a low 27.8% to 70.8%. Even the Player of the Tournament and Star all rounder Manjeet Chillar’s success rate is now reflective of his quality(31.8% to 75%).
But is this the final picture? or are we still missing something.
While watching the games, we would have heard the commentators talking about the do or die raids. What are these do or die raids?
For the people who don’t know about the do or die raids… to make kabaddi interesting, PKL introduced this system so that teams won’t be making empty raids all the time and bore the audience to death. So, they ruled that each team will be allowed to have a maximum of 2 consecutive empty raids. If they have a 3rd consecutive empty raid, then the raider will be given out and the point will be given to the opposing team. So in a do or die raid, the raider will have to score a point. If he retreats without scoring a point, he will be given out.
These raids are very risky and as the name suggests – they are do or die! In a normal raid, if things aren’t going the raiders way, he can retreat without losing a point and stay in the game. But, during these do or die raids, raiders have to take a point and knowing this,they are lured deep into the defense by the opposition and are trapped most of the time. Teams employ do or die raid specialists for these raids. Ajay Thakur is one of them. So, his low SRE is understandable since he goes for a lot of do or die raids. Now, the question arises that can SRE be modified further to be indicative of the raiders performance in these critical do or die raids?
I have tried. lets say hi to SREDE ( Success Rate without Empty and Do or die Equalized) ?
SREDE = ((SRE 0f normal raids)+2*(SRE of do or die raids))/2
Why multiply SRE of do or die raids by 2? It is because here a failure means a loss of point whereas for the normal raids, a failure does not always mean a loss of point. so a success in a DoD Raid is worth 2 points more than failure whereas success in a normal raid is worth 1 point more than failure.
Lets take a look at the SREDE of the raiders:
SREDE shows a very interesting picture. Prashanth Rai and Sukesh Hegde are by far and away the best raiders. Kashi languishes midway at 7th. and Anup Kumar, the captain of the Indian National Kabaddi team is way down at 19th!
Telugu Titans have the best raiders and are the most exciting team to watch. Anup Kumar plays a very calculative game and turns on the style only when it matters. But, has he been below par for the rest of time? A more in depth blog about Anup Kumar next.
Does this metric need more fine tuning? is there a better way at judging a raiders performance?
Let us know what you guys think about this in the comments below.
Data sources : www.prokabaddi.com and SportsKPI