Strangling Short with spin
Royal Challengers Bangalore did not bowl a single over of spin in the Powerplay in their last match, against Kings XI Punjab. This time, they bowled three, two from Washington Sundar and one from Yuzvendra Chahal. The reason may have been D'Arcy Short's weakness against spin bowling. Short's strike rate against spinners in T20s is 126.17, while against pace, it is 163.5 The plan worked, as Short managed just 7 off 11 balls against spin and fell to Chahal in the seventh over.
Rahane ups the ante
Before this match, Rahane had been costing Royals around five runs per innings thanks to his slow batting in the Powerplay - his strike rate in T20s since 2016 is 120.44. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he scored 12 off 11 in the Powerplay, and against Delhi Daredevils, 19 off 19. In this game, however, he attacked and scored 36 off 20 balls (strike rate of 180.00) in the first six, his best return from a Powerplay in the IPL.
RCB suffer in the death
Royal Challengers' spinners kept the runs down early, but in the last five overs, the seamers went for 88 runs, the joint second-most expensive death period in IPL history. This happened for a couple of reasons. First, Royal Challengers do not have strong death bowlers. Both Umesh Yadav and Chris Woakes go at more than nine an over in the death, and Kulwant Khejroliya is playing his first IPL. Second, they bowled in the wrong areas. Twelve deliveries arrived on the stumps, and they went for 48 runs, 36 of those in sixes. There were 10 balls delivered outside off and just two bowled wide of off stump.
The length from the RCB bowlers was equally poor. They gave Rajasthan Royals seven length balls and eight half-volleys, which went, collectively, for 49 runs. Of the five short balls bowled, three were hit for six. Only six yorkers landed, which went for just seven runs. Even full tosses, of which there were four, went for fewer runs than length balls and half-volleys.
Royals spinners strike with short balls
Royal Challengers lost each of their dangerous top four to long hops from the Royals spinners. Brendon McCullum pulled K Gowtham to deep micwicket, and Virat Kohli did the same off Shreyas Gopal. Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers both found square leg off half-trackers, de Kock falling to the part-timer Short.
So was it just multiple brain fades from Royal Challengers? Partly, but also the short ball is actually not such a bad option for spinners in T20 games. As R Ashwin pointed out in a 2016 interview, the straight boundaries are often short in T20 matches, so a spinner is better off dragging it down than pitching it up. Ashwin even said that "a short, wide and shit ball could be the best ball to bowl from now on." This IPL, there have been 194 short-of-a-good-length balls bowled by spinners, and they have claimed 12 wickets. Batsmen have averaged 19.33 against these deliveries, less than against length balls (25.00) and full balls (30.69). To contain runs, length balls are the best option, but it is still better to pitch short than over. Batsmen have scored off short-of-good-length balls at 7.17 an over and off full balls at 8.03.
It should be noted, though, that balls that landed really short have gone at 16.66 an over. So you can drag it down, but not too far.