Talking Points from the IPL 2020 match between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi.
Padikkal powers RCB's intent in the middle overs
Devdutt Padikkal has been one of the most successful openers in IPL 2020 so far, and has the second-most runs in the first six overs: 244, which is just eight behind tournament's highest scorer KL Rahul for that period. In the powerplay, Padikkal also has the highest strike rate this tournament: 133.
But Padikkal's big challenge has been to keep the tempo high in the middle overs (7-16), a segment of the innings where the Royal Challengers have struggled for momentum in general. Before this match Padikkal's strike rate in the middle overs was 114.28. He had managed to hit just a total of just 10 boundaries in 112 deliveries in the middle overs, taking 11.2 balls per boundary.
Today, though, Padikkal's strike rate soared to 173.07 as he blasted 45 runs from 26 deliveries in the middle overs, including six fours and a six - a boundary every 3.71 deliveries. That was even more than what Mike Hesson, the Royal Challengers' team director, had asked for while talking to the match commentators during the innings.
Hesson had pointed out that his team was slowing down in the middle overs and so falling short by at least 20 runs. The Royal Challengers had the worst run rate of 7.07 in the middle overs coming into the game, way below the top two teams - Mumbai (8.50) and the Kings XI Punjab (8.45). But thanks to Padikkal, and a useful cameo from AB de Villiers, the Royal Challengers scored 80 in the middle 10 overs, their second-highest total in the period for the tournament, only two runs behind what they scored against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Sharjah.
Do RCB continue to rely too heavily on Kohli and de Villiers?
Without a doubt. The Royal Challengers have turned a corner and are strong contenders to make the the playoffs this IPL. However their success continues to be dictated by the batting fortunes of their two best batsmen: de Villiers and Kohli. Every time this season the pair has failed, the Royal Challengers have lost the match.
Today neither Kohli nor de Villiers were around during the death-overs phase and the Royal Challengers eventually fell well short of what they would have expected to get after all the good work done by Padikkal.
In their five defeats in this tournament, including today, Kohli has managed 151 runs while de Villiers has not even totalled three digits, scoring just 93 runs. In the seven matches that the Royal Challengers have won, Kohli has scored 238 at a strike rate of 138 while de Villiers has powered 196 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of 196.
Suryakumar Yadav makes a statement
Suryakumar Yadav would have been intent on making a statement after being overlooked for India's T20 squad for the upcoming Australia tour. Who better to make a statement against than the team lead by Kohli, the India captain, who is part of the selection meetings.
He swung the contest in Mumbai's favour in a matter of six balls between overs 11.6 and 12.5. Nineteen runs came off those six deliveries, 18 of them to Yadav, and according to ESPNcricinfo's Forecaster tool Mumbai's win percentage nearly doubled from 36.5 to 64.8 in that period.
An audacious six with a high and straight elbow over extra cover against Yuzvendra Chahal was followed by a steer against a fast delivery outside off from Dale Steyn, which Yadav executed in seemingly a matter-of-fact fashion. It was as if he was making a point with his calmness and composure.
Yadav has been among the best batsmen this IPL, and he has done that by dominating the opposition's best bowlers. Tonight, he dominated Chahal with the sweep shot, and hit 25 runs from 13 deliveries against him. So far in this IPL, Yadav has the most runs overall using the sweep: 32 form 13 balls. Against RCB he also caned Steyn for 19 runs from just seven balls.
He had the final word, too, hitting the winning boundary and signing off with a gesture that seemed to suggest: "I'm there, relax."
Stats inputs from Bharath Seervi.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo