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T20 Cricket: Should you bat first?

For day matches and night matches of T20 cricket, the team batting second has a very slight advantage. However for a day-night game (first team bats with some natural light) the team batting first wins 60% of the time.
T20 cricket is such a fast game that there is little time to recover from a bad decision. The first decision when you win the toss is whether to bat or field. For matches conducted entirely under natural light (day games) only the basic consideration of whether you prefer to set a target or chase a target applies. This is because all the other conditions are equal for both teams (i.e. the pitch condition won’t change over a three hour game). Similarly, for a night match both teams have the same batting conditions. However, for a day-night match, the first team bats through the twilight and the second team bats fully under artificial lights – hence the batting conditions are quite different.
My feeling was that it should not matter if you bat or field first for day matches or night matches (because the conditions are the same for both teams). However for day-night matches, the team batting first gets the advantage of natural light. We showed in an earlier post this makes a significant difference for One Day International cricket.
I have consulted the CricInfo statistics on the 214 international T20 matches between top tier nations that have had a result (all games to December 2016). Of those 214 matches, there was a pretty even spread between day, day-night and night games (65, 86 and 63 respectively). The numbers show that that there was near enough no real difference between day matches and night matches – the team batting first wins 48% and 46% of the time respectively. Hence there maybe a slight advantage to batting second – but we need a bigger data set to test if this small advantage is significant. However for day-night games the team batting first (in the light) wins 60% of the time.
In T20 cricket – consider batting second for day and night matches, but always bat first for day-night matches. This is exactly the same trend we see in One Day International cricket (although the advantages are reduced).

Figure 1: T20 International wins based on batting first or second (data from Cricinfo)

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