How Gambhir and Raina used their bowling resources

Suresh Raina navigated his way through limited bowling options BCCI

No Tye?

Gujarat Lions had taken only 15 wickets in their first five games. Just to put things in perspective, Bhuvneshwar Kumar took just as many in his first four games. Andrew Tye had taken seven of those 15 wickets. Tye took five wickets including a hat-trick in the only match that the Lions won and still, they benched him to play James Faulkner. It was apparent that their bowling was thin but they tried to address that by dropping their best bowler. While it was prudent to play Faulkner, it should've happened at the cost of an overseas batsman and not Tye. Ishan Kishan coming to form should have given them the confidence to drop one of the overseas bowlers.

No bouncers or yorkers to Sunil Narine?

Sunil Narine hit seven boundaries in the first two overs and there were no bouncers or yorkers bowled at him. He was just planting his front foot right down the pitch, which allowed his arms a free passage. The two times Narine had gotten out in the Powerplay before today were against Bhuvneshwar's yorker and Varun Aaron's attempted bouncer. It was a little surprising to see that the Lions hadn't done their homework against Narine.

Faulkner bowling 12th and 14th

Suresh Raina brought Faulkner back to bowl the 12th over in order to break the partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, and it worked out just fine, with Gambhir falling in the 12th over. Now, the option for Raina was to either bowl him another over to take one more wicket or keep his two for the death. Raina opted to bowl him another over - and you can't grudge him for doing that - but didn't have a slip, or five fielders in the circle. It's not necessary that the batsman would nick or try to go aerial if there's an extra fielder inside the circle, but the idea is to send the message across to the batsmen that you are trying to get them out. Instead, he had the four fielders at the edge of the 30-yard circle. It defeated the purpose.

Faulkner bowling the 17th over

Once you play an overseas bowler, you're almost obliged to make him bowl the tough overs. While bowling first, the deeper you go into the innings, the tougher it gets. Since Raina had only one over from Faulkner available in the final four, it was a given that he'd bowl either the 19th or the 20th over but he got him to bowl the 17th over instead.

Overseas openers, start with spinners

KKR started their defence with Shakib Al Hasan and Narine, and that probably had to do with the nationality of Lions' openers - it's not common for players from outside the subcontinent to face spinners with the new ball. Even though they conceded 40 runs in the first three overs and both Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch got the better of them, it was a tactic worth exploring because Knight Riders went with their front-line spin options.

Raina at the crease, Narine gets another over

Narine bowled the second over and Finch went after him. But as soon as Raina walked in, Gambhir brought Narine back. Bringing in bowlers who are most likely to take wickets, especially to the big ticket batsmen in the early part of their innings, has been the stand out feature of Gambhir's captaincy. Narine did find Raina's outside edge but Uthappa grassed it. Sometimes you wonder about how many more wickets Narine would've taken if Knight Riders had a proper wicket keeper in place of Uthappa.

Short-pitched bowling doesn't work against Raina in T20s

Gambhir, like most captains, bowled a lot of pace against Raina. And like most pace bowlers, Knight Riders' quick bowlers bowled fairly short to him. But Raina is aware of these tactics and has started shuffling back and across regularly. Therefore, he's been able to ride the bounce nicely and play it through the fine-leg region. It's interesting that no bowler tried to bowl a yorker aiming at his heels, for when he moves across, both his feet are in the air and that makes him vulnerable to a leg-stump yorker. Something that has worked in the past.