Is Umesh smashing it or getting smashed?
Within minutes of the match beginning, Umesh Yadav was trending on Twitter. He had taken two wickets off the first two balls. This is the third time this IPL Umesh has taken wickets in quick succession. Against Kolkata Knight Riders, he struck twice in his first nine balls, and against Kings XI Punjab, he took three in his second over. He also managed to keep the batsmen quiet early in those spells, and in this game, he had figures of 2 for 8 after two overs.
So how come Umesh's economy rate this IPL is 9.06? Because after those sensational starts, he falls off, equally dramatically. These are his economy-rates broken down: 3.75 in the first over, 7.6 in the second, 8.67 in the third and 15.75 in the fourth. Against Mumbai Indians, he conceded 28 off his final two overs to finish with 2 for 36.
Why was Chahal v Rohit delayed?
Rohit Sharma's record against legspin is poor. He's been out to them 22 times in T20s and strikes at just 110 against them. So why did Yuzvendra Chahal only come on in the ninth over when the Mumbai captain walked out in the first? Probably because of the guy at the other end. Evin Lewis smacks legspin at a strike rate of 191.
Look at what happened when Chahal did bowl. Rohit got off strike and watched from the other end as Lewis hammered three sixes off Chahal's first 10 balls. In the end, Chahal, Royal Challengers' most consistent bowler of the past few seasons, didn't even finish his quota of four overs. The dynamic could get teams thinking about deliberately having batsmen who have contrasting strengths and weaknesses at the wicket together so the bowling captain doesn't know whom to bring on.
Is millionaire Woakes out of favour?
Royal Challengers picked Corey Anderson over Brendon McCullum to get a sixth bowling option. But few would have expected him to bowl his full quota of overs while Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar and Chahal didn't complete theirs. The decision not to bowl Woakes out was a particularly curious one. He bowled his first two overs in the Powerplay and went for 16 and was then only brought on in the 19th over.
Woakes was Royal Challengers' most expensive buy in the auction, at INR 7.4 crore (USD 1.16 million approx). The decision to bring him on so late despite Mumbai scoring quickly off the other bowlers was either a miscalculation or a sign that Kohli has lost faith in him.
Sarfaraz fails again
A few eyebrows were raised when Royal Challengers retained the uncapped Sarfaraz Khan ahead of the 2018 season. After all, Kohli did say he needed to get a lot fitter before he could play consistently for RCB. Well, he has now become a regular part of the team, but after three innings, he has managed only 11 runs and has also eaten up too many dots. Against Knight Riders, he took 10 balls to make six runs and against Mumbai, with the required rate at 15.43 when he came to the crease, he took six balls to make five. That released the trolls on social media, though it may have been a case of finding a scapegoat for the whole team's failure.
Was Kohli batting for the not-out?
When his team is chasing 214, you don't expect to see Kohli batting on 40 at a strike rate of 111.11 in the 13th over. But, as he explained after the game, the RCB captain had given up on the chase, as too many wickets had fallen, and was trying to ensure they didn't fall too far behind on net run-rate. In 10 completed seasons of the IPL, teams have missed making the final four because of net run-rate as much as four times. So clearly Kohli knows what he's talking about.
He started quickly, racing to 18 off 11 balls, but once Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers fell in the same over, he knuckled down and tried to avoid a huge loss. He got going again towards the end and finished with a healthy strike rate of 148.38. With Royal Challengers reaching 167, they stayed ahead of bottom-dwellers Delhi Daredevils on the points table.
The young legspinner Mayank Markande also played a part in keeping Kohli quiet, conceding just 15 runs off 14 balls, including five dots. And it wasn't like Kohli was just blocking him. He played just one defensive stroke, but could not find the gaps with his drives and cuts as Markande showed off his variations and accuracy.
Is batting first the new bowling first?
Teams batting second won nine of the first 10 matches this season. But just as everyone was thinking here was the secret to winning the IPL, the team batting first has now won four games in a row.
This is partly down to the law of averages. While fielding first is statistically advantageous in T20s, numbers suggest it is only slightly so (3429 wins and 3228 losses). In the IPL, the gap is slightly bigger - 354 wins and 286 losses. So you have, approximately, a 10% better chance of winning if you field first.
There could be a few other reasons the last four games have gone to the team batting first. There was no dew in Mumbai for the Mumbai v Royal Challengers game, and there wasn't much in Mohali for the Kings XI v Chennai Super Kings game. This has allowed spinners to have greater impact in the second innings. Also, in all four games, the team batting first put up a big total against sides that don't have strong middle orders, which made chasing difficult.