What is the DLS?
The Duckworth-Lewis-Stern or DLS method (as it is now known) is a mathematical system employed to calculate target scores and reach outcomes in rain-shortened limited-overs matches. Devised by English statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis and originally named after them, it was first used in 1997. Australian academic Steve Stern updated the formula.
Why is it needed?
When a match is interrupted by inclement weather, and one or both teams do not get their full quota of overs, an outcome has to be reached in the time available after resumption of play. What any calculation is doing is trying to adjust a target score according to the reduction in overs. Any number is an estimate: there is no one right answer. What the ICC has tried to do is arrive at a formula that takes into account as many parameters as possible and properly reflects the efforts of both teams. The DLS method, which has been updated a few times, is generally considered the most accurate system used in international cricket.
How does the DLS method work?
The DLS considers both wickets and overs as resources and revises the target based on the availability of those resources. At the start of an innings, a team has 100% of its resources — 50 overs and 10 wickets — available. The DLS method expresses the balls and wickets remaining at any point as a percentage. How much is a wicket or a ball worth in percentage terms? This is calculated according to a formula which takes into account the scoring pattern in international matches, derived from analysis of data (ODI and T20, men and women) from a sliding four-year window. On the first of July every year, a new year’s worth of data is added; so the DLS evolves as scoring trends do.