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FIFA World Cup: Which Teams Would Make It To The Knockout Stage?

    The FIFA World Cup 2018 draws took place at Kremlin, Russia on December 1, 2017. There are 32 teams in the World Cup broken down into 8 groups of 4 teams each. The UEFA, European football’s governing council has 14 teams qualified. CONMEBOL (South America), CAF (Africa), and AFC (Asia) have five participating teams each while CONCACAF (Central and North America) has 3 teams qualified.

    All teams are split into four different pots based on their FIFA world rankings, with Pot 1 being the strongest while Pot 4 being weakest. The host nation, i.e. Russia this year, is automatically placed in Pot 1.

    FIFA has slightly altered the draw system this time round, which will prevent any “Group of Death” kind scenario in the group stages. Earlier, the pots were determined on a geographic criteria, however now, they are seeded solely based on their rankings.

    Below are the seeds for all 32 teams:

     

    The groups are then decided on the basis of a draw from each of these pots. Russia, being the host country was seeded into Pot 1, and hence was impossible to be grouped along with a powerhouse like Brazil or Germany. Based on ELO ratings – a measure of team’s quality that takes into account factors such as margin of victory, game importance, game location amongst several others, Russia’s group – Russia, Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia has an average rating of 1720, which is 98 points worse than the average of all World Cup teams. Additionally, this is the largest difference in group strength and WC average ever seen for any group in the World Cup since the previous decade.

    Russia’s luck shone each time another group member was added from the pots. After Uruguay, Egypt, second weakest team of Pot 3, and Saudi Arabia, the weakest team of the WC based on both ELO and FIFA rankings were pooled into Group A, making it by far the most easiest of the Groups in FIFA WC ’18.

    Using a combination of ESPN’s SPI (Soccer Power Index) and ELO ratings, we predicted the chances of each team advancing into the knockout stage. In SPI, each team is assigned an offensive and a defensive SPI rating, which is expressed in terms of number of goals it is expected to score and the number of goals it is expected to concede. Thus, a higher offensive SPI rating is good, while a higher defensive SPI rating is bad. After weighing the SPI and ELO ratings, we then ran Monte-Carlo simulations to play out each group fixture 10,000 times for each individual match forecast. For the group predictions, the Monte Carlo simulations remained static.

    Following are the chances of each of the teams advancing into the knockout stages:

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      Just How Bad is The Crime Rate In Delhi?

        Last week, the National Crime Records Bureau released crime data for 2016, and that showed Delhi to continue being the crime capital in several categories.

        NCRB categorizes crimes under 18 heads, and releases data for each at two geographical levels: by states and by 19 metropolitan cities with a population above 2 million. Delhi had the overall worst crime rate among all states, of 975 crimes per 100,000 people. The next worst was Kerala: 727.

        Just how bad is it to be living as a woman or a child in Delhi? The visualization below captures the severity of Delhi’s crime rate in select categories with respect to other states. Seen another way, it shows when people come from another state to Delhi, what are they coming to in terms of crime and safety?

        The smallest icons (first row) show states that are just as bad as Delhi in the particular crime metric: for example, the rate of crime against women in Assam is close to Delhi. And the largest icons (last low) show states with low crime rates. Nagaland, for example, had the lowest crime rate against women; in comparison to it, Delhi’s crime rate was 17 times Nagaland.

        In terms of bigger states, Delhi’s rate of crime against women was thrice as bad as that of Maharashtra, and twice as bad as Madhya Pradesh.

        The stark gap between Delhi and other states is also seen in crimes against children.

         

         

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          Virat Kohli Is Up Against History In Matching Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 Hundreds

            The way he is batting these days, Virat Kohli makes hundreds for breakfast. On November 20, he became only the eighth batsman in the history of the sport to reach 50 international hundreds. The next two innings he played in the ongoing test series against Sri Lanka, he added two more—that too double hundreds.

            He is in imperious form. He is hungry to write and rewrite history. He has the focus. He has the fitness.

            Still, the summit of hundreds, on whose perch Sachin Tendulkar sits alone by a long, long way is a long and arduous journey away. And, in order to reach there, Kohli will have to do things that most others who have tried to make that journey have failed to.

            It comes down to a tale of two halves. These top centurions were more productive in the first half of their career than their second. All barring one, and we will come to this exception.

            The graph below shows the age at which the top three centurions (Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara) and two current players (Kohli and Hashim Amla) have scored their centuries.

            Look at Tendulkar’s line (colored blue). It starts before everyone else’s: he debuted the youngest. It extends beyond everyone else: he played the longest. It rises the highest: he has the most hundreds. It is always above everyone else’s: at every age, Tendulkar had more hundreds.

            Virat Kohli is 29 today. At that age, Tendulkar had 65 hundreds, 15 more than Kohli. Tendulkar played for nine more years, during which he amassed another 35 hundreds—a lower rate of accumulation. Similarly, Ricky Ponting, who finished with 71 hundreds, added 36 hundreds between the age of 29 and 37, when he retired.

            The one exception to this was Kumar Sangakkara. He was a rare top batsman who became more prolific with age and went out in considerable style. Sangakkara played till the age of 37. And between 29 years and 37 years, he racked up 43 hundreds.

            For Kohli to overhaul Tendulkar’s record of 100 hundreds, he will need to play as long as Tendulkar and do so with the accumulation prowess of a Sangakkara.

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              Is There A Link Between Spiking Onion Prices And Elections?

                Difficult to conclude, one way or the other. We took data on monthly retail prices for Delhi for the period between 2008 and 2017, and charted it. On this, we overlaid dates of state elections. In the visualisation below, the orange bars represent months when state elections were held, while the blue bars represent months that did not see elections.

                Of the 17 election blocks here, there are two blocks where onion prices do surge unusually in the lead up—in November 2013 and November 2015. But otherwise, they don’t. They move in a narrower band most of the time, rising occasionally in months that are draw away election ones.

                What do you think? Is there any other factor at play here?

                Data sources: National Horticulture Board (onion prices), Election Commission of India (election dates)

                 

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