DLS Method in Cricket: A guide of fair play in wet conditions

Cricket is a game full of excitement and strategy, but it often faces challenges due to unpredictable weather, especially rain. Rain interruptions can change the course of a match and lead to confusion and debates. To solve this problem, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method was created. This method helps to adjust the target scores in limited-overs matches affected by rain.

The Origin of the DLS Method:

The DLS method, originally known as the Duckworth-Lewis (DL) method, was developed in 1997 by English statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis. They aimed to create a fair and logical way to adjust target scores in limited-overs cricket matches affected by weather interruptions.

Before the DL method, rain-affected matches often ended in controversy due to the use of arbitrary methods like the run rate rule, which did not accurately reflect the game’s progress. Duckworth and Lewis’s mathematical approach considered both the overs remaining and wickets lost, treating them as critical resources. This innovation brought clarity and fairness to disrupted matches.

In 2014, Australian statistician Steven Stern refined the model to better fit modern scoring trends, especially in T20 cricket, resulting in the updated Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method. This refined method remains the standard for handling rain-affected matches in international cricket today

Understanding the DLS Method:

The method is based on the concept of “resources”, which considers the number of overs remaining and wickets in hand as critical factors that affect a team’s ability to score runs.

When a match is interrupted, the DLS method calculates the resources available to both teams before and after the disruption. Using a pre-determined resource table, it adjusts the target score proportionally. For example, if a 50-over match is reduced to 30 overs due to rain, the method recalculates the target based on lost resources. This ensures that both teams have a fair chance to compete, maintaining the balance and integrity of the game despite the interruptions.

The DLS method is applied in various scenarios, whether interruptions occur during the first innings, the second innings, or multiple times throughout the match. Despite its complexity, the DLS method is designed to be transparent and fair, giving teams and fans a clear understanding of the revised targets and the impact of interruptions.

Key Components:

Resources: The method considers the combination of overs and wickets as resources. A team with more overs and fewer wickets lost has a higher resource percentage compared to a team with fewer overs and more wickets lost.

Resource Table: The DLS method utilizes a pre-calculated resource table, indicating the percentage of resources available for every possible combination of overs and wickets remaining.

Par Score: The par score is the target that the batting team needs to achieve to be equivalent to the opposing team’s performance at the same stage of the game.

Adjusted Target: When an interruption occurs, the DLS formula recalculates the target score based on the resources available to both teams, ensuring a fair contest.

Application of the DLS Method:

The DLS method is primarily applied in One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 (T20) matches. Here’s how it works in different scenarios:

  1. Interruption During the First Innings: When rain interrupts the first innings, the match duration is often reduced, resulting in fewer overs for the batting team. The DLS method adjusts the target score based on the reduced number of overs and the resources available. For instance, if a 50-over match is reduced to 30 overs, the target score is scaled down proportionately.
  2. Interruption During the Second Innings: If the second inning is interrupted, the DLS method becomes crucial in determining the revised target. The method calculates the resources used by the batting team before the interruption and adjusts the target accordingly. The revised target ensures that the batting team has a fair chance to chase the total within the remaining overs.
  3. Multiple Interruptions: In cases of multiple interruptions, the DLS method recalculates the target after each interruption, considering the resources lost and gained. This dynamic adjustment maintains the fairness of the game, regardless of the number of interruptions.

Statistical Impact of DLS on Matches:

To understand the real-world impact of the DLS method, let’s look at some statistical data from past cricket matches:

1. 2002 ICC Champions Trophy Final:

– Teams: India vs. Sri Lanka

– Original Target: 223 in 50 overs

– Revised Target: Due to rain interruptions, the match exceeded 110.4 overs split across two days, with no result declared, resulting in both teams being declared joint winners.

2. DLS Impact on ODI Matches:

– According to ICC statistics, around 20% of ODI matches have seen rain interruptions requiring DLS calculations.

– In a study of 100 ODIs affected by rain between 2010 and 2020, teams batting second won 55% of the matches using DLS, indicating a slight advantage due to clearer target adjustments.

3. DLS in T20 Matches:

– The Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method has significantly impacted T20 cricket. When rain interrupts a match, the DLS method adjusts the target score to ensure fairness. This often increases the required run rate for the chasing team, adding pressure and requiring quick strategic changes.

Controversies and Criticisms:

Despite its scientific approach, the DLS method has faced criticism and controversies over the years. Some of the common criticisms include:

  1. Complexity: The DLS method involves intricate calculations, making it difficult for players and spectators to understand the revised targets easily.
  2. Perceived Unfairness: In certain situations, the adjusted targets can appear unfair, especially when a team with a strong batting lineup feels disadvantaged due to a steep target.
  3. Late Adjustments: The method sometimes leads to dramatic changes in the target during the final overs, which can alter the game’s dynamics significantly.

Evolution and Improvements:

To address these criticisms, continuous efforts have been made to refine the DLS method. In 2014, Professor Steven Stern updated the method, making it the DLS method, to improve accuracy and fairness, particularly in T20 matches. Stern’s adjustments focused on better accounting for the unique scoring dynamics of T20 cricket, resulting in more realistic revised targets. The DLS method continues to be refined, aiming to balance the game while maintaining simplicity and transparency.

The Impact of DLS on Cricket:

The DLS method has undoubtedly revolutionized the way rain-affected matches are handled in cricket. Its impact is evident in various aspects of the game:

Fairness and Objectivity: The method ensures that both teams have a fair chance of winning, irrespective of weather interruptions. By considering resources and adjusting targets scientifically, the DLS method eliminates subjective decision-making.

Strategic Planning: Teams now strategize their innings with the DLS method in mind. Batting teams aim to optimize their resource utilization, while bowling teams focus on taking wickets to reduce the batting side’s resources.

Fan Engagement: Despite its complexity, the DLS method has increased fan engagement by providing a clear and systematic approach to rain-affected matches. Fans can follow the revised targets and understand the impact of interruptions on the game’s outcome.


The Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method has become an integral part of modern cricket, ensuring that rain-affected matches are decided fairly and scientifically. While it may have its share of criticisms, the method’s evolution and continuous refinement have enhanced its accuracy and relevance.

By considering resources and adjusting targets logically, the DLS method maintains the spirit of cricket and ensures that the best team emerges victorious, regardless of interruptions. As the game evolves, the DLS method will continue to play a crucial role in preserving the fairness and excitement of cricket, making it a fascinating aspect of the sport for players and fans alike.

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