Less pace, more spin and cutters
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium usually offers a bit of help for the quicks, but today both teams read - correctly, as it turned out - that this pitch would be slower than usual, and picked their bowling options accordingly. Two out-and-out quicks, Varun Aaron and Lockie Ferguson, went out of the Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders attacks respectively, and in their place came a debutant legspinner, S Midhun, and a slower-ball specialist, Harry Gurney. Both teams also knew their slower options would benefit from the long boundaries at the ground.
One immediate effect of this was on the scoring rate of Jos Buttler, who came into this game with an IPL strike rate of 132.9 against spin as opposed to 159.8 against pace. Buttler was at the crease until the 12th over, but only made 37 off 34 balls. He scored 18 off 12 (SR of 150) against Knight Riders' seamers, and 19 off 22 (SR of 86.36) against the spinners.
What's up with the zing bails in IPL 2019?
In the fourth over of Knight Riders' chase, Dhawal Kulkarni got one to move into Chris Lynn and clip into his leg stump off the inside edge. The zing bails lit up, and the ball ricocheted to the fine-leg fence. Lynn started his long walk back, and Kulkarni began wheeling away in celebration.
Except, for the third time in a week, the bails didn't come off their groove and Knight Riders got four runs to show for it, after all. Royals have been at the receiving end on two of those occasions now. First, it was MS Dhoni who got away with it, after inside-edging a Jofra Archer shorter one that rolled on to the stumps. Dhoni was on 0 and went on to make a match-winning 75* off 46 balls.
On Saturday, Dhoni was at the receiving end of it, after one of his lightning-quick throws from behind the stumps found KL Rahul short of his ground. The bails again refused to fall off. Rahul made 55, but Super Kings sealed a comfortable 22-run win.
Lynn's non-wicket is now the third time the zing bails have stayed stubbornly rooted to their groove this season, and wasn't the first piece of luck that came the batting side's way: Rahul Tripathi had put down a skier off Sunil Narine just the previous ball.
Right bowlers, wrong ends?
It's fairly well known now that Lynn can really hurt pace bowlers (he came into this game with an IPL strike rate of 163.1 against pace since 2015) but isn't that explosive against spin (107.2). It's also fairly well known that the converse is true for Narine, to a lesser extent (he strikes at 227.3 against spin and 158.8 against pace, though he's known for a weakness against the fast, short ball).
It makes the opening pair rather difficult for teams to plan against, and Royals found out the hard way on Sunday. They only bowled one over of spin in the Powerplay, but Narine happened to be on strike and he took 22 runs off the unfortunate K Gowtham: 406444.
Narine faced only four balls from the quicks in the first five overs. Lynn faced 20 (and no spin at all) and made 29.
By the time Narine faced a full over of pace he was already batting on 24 off 10, and he hit two fours off Kulkarni in a 11-run over that took Knight Riders to a Powerplay score of 65 for no loss. In a chase of 140, that was more than half the job done.