Why did left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma open the bowling for Sunrisers Hyderabad?
Whenever you see two overseas opening batsmen, you take a chance of starting the innings with a spinner. Most overseas opening batsmen prefer pace on the ball and if you take it away, they take time to get going. Also, over the years, the first over of an IPL innings has been the most economical of the six Powerplay overs, so you could consider slipping in an over from a lower-profile bowler - like Bipul - right at the start.
Run-rate for the first six overs in IPL*
- 1st over: 5.90 runs per over
- 2nd over: 7.03
- 3rd over: 7.64
- 4th over: 8.00
- 5th over: 8.00
- 6th over: 8.12
Where did the swing go?
The first two balls of pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar's first over were bowled with the seam upright; the first ball swung away and the second came back in sharply to cramp Jason Roy. Roy stepped out the following ball and thumped it down the ground, and that was the end of the attempt to swing the ball, taking away one wicket-taking option. This happens almost every day in T20 cricket.
Why was Bipul less effective in the third over?
In the first over, he conceded only three and that prompted Warner to give him the third over too. The thing to note was that the second over, bowled by Bhuvneshwar, produced runs and provided rhythm to Roy, which in turn resulted in the third over going for plenty. It's easy to understand the temptation to give Bipul another over, but it was always fraught with danger.
The same happened with Suresh Raina in the second innings - the first over produced 3; the third went for 21.
Why has Rashid Khan been so successful?
Legspinners have the advantage of spinning the ball sizeably both ways and that has made them the most valuable asset in T20 cricket. In addition, Rashid Khan has the advantage of his height: like many legspinners, he has a shorter frame and that allows him to maintain a flatter trajectory without even trying. He bowls flat and fast, which makes the ball skid off the surface and that makes it tougher for batsmen to use their feet - I'm yet to see a batsman stepping down the pitch to him.
His lower trajectory leads to a lack of bounce and, therefore, it's also tougher to get under him. Also, his googlies have got him many wickets. The reason why batsmen are finding it hard to pick them is his high-arm action; most legspinners have to change from a round-arm delivery to high-arm when bowling the wrong'un, but Rashid doesn't have to make the change, making it so much harder to pick.
As it is, in T20 cricket the batsmen can't afford to watch the ball as closely as they do in longer formats. His quick-arm action doesn't make it any easier either.
What about the slow balls?
The fourth ball that Bhuvneshwar bowled in the first innings was a slower one and that set the tone for the rest of the game. The game was played on the same pitch on which Sunrisers played Royal Challengers Bangalore a couple of days ago and, therefore, the surface was a little too dry. Right through the match, every single over by a fast bowler featured at least one slower delivery. Under lights, though, the ball started skidding through the surface a little more.
How did David Warner finally hit form?
During Australia's Test series against India, Warner's issues stemmed from a lack of feet movement; he stayed too far away from the ball too often. But this became his strength in today's game. He did what he always does - stayed inside the line of the ball to allow free passage for his arms to swing through.
*Stats across IPL seasons, until Sunrisers v Lions today.