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Talking Points - The slowdown that came back to haunt Kings XI Punjab

At the end of four overs, Kings XI Punjab had only 20 runs on the board. Too careful against the pace attack of Jason Behrendorff and Jasprit Bumrah? Well, Chris Gayle is known to be circumspect early on, and he was on 3 off seven at that stage. Behrendorff then came on for his third over, and Gayle went 6, 6, 0, 4 and 6 in the five balls he faced, and after that it was a whole different script.

But, while Gayle scored 63 in 36 balls, there was little impetus from the other end. Beautifully as KL Rahul played for his fourth fifty-plus score of the season, he was on 50 from as many as 41 balls when Gayle fell. Even after that, between overs 13 and 17, Rahul failed to get going as Kings XI added just 30 runs, and two more wickets went down.

"Lost our way a bit in the middle," he admitted to Sanjay Manjrekar on the live broadcast. So much so, that Rahul's 63-ball century was the joint fourth-slowest in IPL history.

Rahul picked up speed in grand style towards the end, hitting Hardik Pandya for three sixes in the 19th over, in which Kings XI scored 25 runs and took the total up to 197 for 4, but Kings XI might well have stopped around 20 runs behind where they could have been.

Why pick Joseph and not bowl him out?

Joseph walked into IPL 2019, broke an 11-year-old record, and bagged the best bowling figures of all time in the competition. It was good enough to keep Lasith Malinga out of the side the next game.

On Wednesday night, Joseph was up against KL Rahul and Chris Gayle. Gayle only faced three balls off him for two runs, but Rahul brought Joseph back to earth by carting him for 19 off nine balls, including a couple of sixes.

Later in the script, Kieron Pollard, leading Mumbai in Rohit Sharma's absence, chose to back Hardik Pandya to bowl the difficult overs at the death. Hardik, to his credit, had managed to keep Rahul quiet in his first three overs, but got the treatment in the 19th, going for 25 thanks to some huge hits from the Kings XI opener.

Pandya's first three overs could have tempted Pollard into bowling him out, but Joseph's extra pace could well have troubled a marauding Rahul at the death. With Behrendorff bowled out and Bumrah coming in from the other end, it was odd to see Mumbai not throwing their third specialist pace bowler into the deep end at the death.

Are Pollard and Russell redefining T20 chasing?

Or is it just a case of a number of bowlers not executing their plans correctly?

Thrice now this season, chasing records have been rewritten at the IPL. From 53 needed off 18, Andre Russell has flown past the finish line twice with some manic six-hitting at the death, against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

On Wednesday, Kieron Pollard was up against another steep equation, needing to nail down 133 runs from the last ten overs. No chasing side had ever made over 126 in IPL history, and only three T20 sides had ever managed more. Pollard played out Kings XI's fastest bowlers, Hardus Viljoen and Mohammed Shami, making just five off eight balls against them.

He was severe on the rest of their attack, and backed himself to the hilt, farming the strike after Hardik Pandya got out. And why not, if you can pummel towering sixes every other ball?

When Pollard faces over 30 balls in an IPL innings, he strikes at a rate of 164.9. On Wednesday, that went up to an incredible 267.74. Most notably, though, this was the first time he has faced 30-plus balls in an IPL game since May 2017. Without doubt, Pollard and Russell are redefining T20 chasing, telling us what's possible if you have a proven six-hitter or two in your arsenal.

Rohit Sharma not on the field for Mumbai Indians - a rare occurrence indeed

Rohit Sharma hasn't had the best run in IPL 2019 so far, with scores of 14, 48, 32, 13 and 11. Still, Mumbai want him - he's their tall leader, scorer of big runs, and lucky mascot - at all times, and it was disappointing for them to miss out on his services for the big game against Kings XI.

It was, amazingly, the first time Rohit had missed a game after 133 consecutive appearances, just one behind Suresh Raina's record.

The last - and only - time Rohit missed an IPL match was in the inaugural 2008 season, when he was representing Deccan Chargers. That was on May 27 that year, in a game against Chennai Super Kings. Never has he missed a game since moving to Mumbai in 2011. Till today.

How was Rajpoot allowed to bowl the final over?

Ankit Rajpoot was off the field for the best part of Mumbai's chase.

He copped a blow on his hand at the end of his first over, and Vishal Dikshit, our man at the ground, reported: "Rajpoot has gone off the field. Looks like he hurt his finger while fielding that last ball." TV visuals confirmed that it was a split webbing.

He came back to bowl two more overs up front, but then was away. But with only five specialist bowlers in the Kings XI line-up and Mumbai needing 15 from the last over, he had to come back and bowl the final over. He took it to the last ball before conceding defeat.

How was Rajpoot allowed to bowl, though? Well, the law says: "A nominated player's absence will not incur penalty time if he has suffered an external blow during the match and, as a result, has justifiably left the field or is unable to take the field."

That's how. Not that it made a difference to the end result.

With inputs from Gaurav Sundararaman and Shamya Dasgupta