Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) are out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season, but they have made a splash by actively incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to enhance player performance developed by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras).

The Faf Du Plessis-led side examined a bevy of net bowlers using a treasure trove of data using an AI technology developed by the premier institute.

Not just cricket, but experts at the premier institute are grooming other sports tech startups in chess, boxing, badminton, tennis, and wrestling.

ESPNcricinfo has unveiled the ‘Player Impact Score’ based on a Sports Analytics Algorithm developed by IIT Madras. Fantasy league companies are also in talks with the institute for the development of similar offerings. 

IIT Madras Centre of Excellence in Sports Science and Analytics (CESSA)-developed algorithm has identified Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder Sunil Narine as the most impactful player across all editions of the IPL.

“Our plan is to support around 30 sports tech startups every year. Over five years, we will groom nearly 200 such sports tech startups with the support of IIT Madras in the domain areas of computer vision, data analytics, AI, ML, and biomechanics,” said Ramesh Kumar, chief executive officer of CESSA and former Global Head of ESPNcricinfo.

Going forward, IIT Madras is working on four areas in the sector, which include technology to enhance player performance, analytics, education, and supporting sports tech startups.

“We are planning to do some courses within IIT Madras in the education and training space. We are looking at supporting players in this space, which essentially leverages IoT, deep tech, and ML,” Kumar added.

The ESPNcricinfo AI engine was developed by IIT Madras and Gyan Data, an IIT Madras-incubated startup, which analyses limited-overs cricket – T20s and ODIs – in a more nuanced manner than conventional metrics.

“The advantage is that our predictive data is updated after every ball based on the performance of each player. The algorithm we developed at IIT Madras is a unique AI engine that leverages the rich data collected historically in cricket and the extensive models developed. It shows an interesting analysis of the performance often missed by fans and cricket observers. It was developed by scientific methods, processes, and complex algorithms based on machine learning,” said Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement), IIT Madras, and Co-Founder, Gyan Data.

Boxing is another sport where CESSA is working on implementing AI and analytics. Boxers at the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS) in Vijayanagar are monitored through the SmartBoxer system developed by CESSA. Through multiple cameras, each bout is monitored and then broken down by AI tools to provide insights on how a player is utilising the ring, his movements, and punches.

There were also reports of the Indian Super League team FC Goa using the help of data scientists to analyse player performance.

“In digital chess, the challenge for federations is to know if anybody is taking the help of AI. Though there are frisking at tournaments, we are developing products that can red-flag if a player is resorting to such help,” Kumar added.

First Published: May 23 2024 | 7:34 PM IST

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