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Is 300 a psychological barrier in one day internationals?

23 December 2014

sangaCricket fans will be familiar with this scenario:

  • it’s reaching the end of the first innings in a one day international;
  • the team batting is nearing 300 runs;
  • a commentator will claim that reaching 300 will give the batting team a psychological edge going into the second innings.

But is this true?

It’s a simple nugget of received wisdom to test. In theory, chasing between 290 and 299 is no different to chasing 300 to 309; at worst it’s an additional 0.4 runs per over, or 4 runs every 10 overs. This difference is very unlikely to alter the behaviour of the chasing team.

If setting a total of just over 300 were to be a psychological boost, though, we’d see a drop-off in win percentage for the chasing team at just over the 300 mark – above and beyond the normal drop-off we’d expect to see as a target gets larger.

However, there is very little evidence for this.

chasing_300

The difference in win percentages for teams chasing 290-299 is negligible compared to targets of 300-309, and certainly not beyond the general win rate depreciation as a target gets larger. Whilst there are a host of factors (toss, home advantage, conditions etc) that could affect this success rate, it seems unlikely that reaching 300 really is a psychological boost for the team batting first.

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