Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2018, Jaipur April 18, 2018

Chawla's Powerplay stifle proves gamechanger

The legspinner bowled three overs in the Powerplay, something he has only ever done once previously across 135 IPL matches, and had D'Arcy Short tied up in knots

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Faulkner: Chawla's control in his lines was exceptional

All-star of the match

Over the years, the most iconic IPL visual of Piyush Chawla has probably been his mad dash towards the dugout after hitting the winning runs to steer Kolkata Knight Riders to their second title in 2014. This isn't to say he hasn't made an impact with the ball. It's just that his vital spells haven't always yielded a truckload of wickets, effective as they are - it was just the same on Wednesday against Rajasthan Royals.

The bare facts record Chawla's spell as 4-0-18-1. What that doesn't tell you is that he bowled three overs in the Powerplay, something he has only ever done once previously across 135 IPL matches. Particularly noteworthy was his match-up against D'Arcy Short. He varied his lengths superbly, and kept drifting the ball across the left-hander by bowling eight googlies out of the 10 deliveries to him. These fetched Short just three runs even as he was looking for the release that didn't come. This struggle was all the more apparent as Ajinkya Rahane got the side off to a flier.

Chawla is unlikely to be researched by opposition teams' think-tanks the same way as they would Sunil Narine or Kuldeep Yadav, who bring an element of mystery to their bowling. However, the fact that Chawla has been a common factor over the last five seasons for KKR, under an ultra-aggressive Gautam Gambhir first and now under Dinesh Karthik, underlines his value to the side.

The wow moment

Ben Stokes had faced 10 deliveries and was in the mood to hit out. Chawla came back for his final over with Royals looking for their end-overs acceleration. Stokes had been dismissed eight times off 70 deliveries against wristspinners, and Chawla set him up for a ninth with a well-directed googly. He saw Stokes give him the charge and tossed this up just a touch wider, leaving Stokes having to reach out. This meant he couldn't get to the pitch of the ball, and was beaten by the flight too. Stokes was looking to clear long-off but skewed the catch to the man running back from cover.

The numbers

  • This was only the second time in 135 IPL matches that Chawla bowled three overs in the Powerplay. The only other time he did this was also in this season; he conceded 21 off his three such overs against RCB earlier this month
  • Against left-handers this season, Chawla has conceded just 26 runs off 32 deliveries. On Wednesday, this was particularly significant as Royals had two left-handers in the top five

What they said

"Bowling in the Powerplay is not an easy thing to do. As a legspinner, I always try to pick wickets. I'm someone who doesn't like to be defensive. Fortunately, we've got three quality spinners, if you bowl well in tandem, you can restrict sides."
Piyush Chawla

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo