Why is everyone and their mum comparing Prithvi Shaw to Tendulkar?
They're easily excitable, for one. But there are a few similarities, not just in their stance and style, but in their stories. Like Tendulkar, Shaw shot to fame when barely into his teens. At 14, he scored 546 in a school game, the highest score in schools cricket at the time - Tendulkar, of course, once held the record for the highest partnership in schools cricket for a stand with Vinod Kambli. And now, Shaw, still just 18, is a regular member of the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team and has had three impressive innings this IPL, the latest a 25-ball 47 against Rajasthan Royals.
It's not just Tendulkar Shaw is being compared to. There have been comparisons between his backlift and Brian Lara's, and between his cover drive and Virat Kohli's. But enough of the hype. Is he really that good? What has impressed viewers is that Shaw has been able to score 140 runs this IPL at 166.67 without slogging much. He has slogged at just five of the 84 balls he has faced, while he has got 23 runs from eight cover drives and 27 from 10 off drives. There have also been 13 cuts and nine pulls.
So we know he can score around the ground, but where have bowlers bowled to him? He has had 42 length balls to attack, but even when it's been dropped short, he is striking at 151.51. No one has bowled a yorker to him, though, so if he lasts till the death overs, that will be a new challenge.
Is it deja vu for Delhi?
Last season, Delhi Daredevils had just two wins after eight games. Then, their young Indian batsmen struck form. Rishabh Pant hit a 97 and a couple of quick 30s, Shreyas Iyer scored 96 against Gujarat Lions, and Karun Nair played three impressive innings to help Daredevils win four in five. It was too late for Daredevils, though. They fell four points short of the playoff spots. This season, Daredevils had just one win after six games. Since then, Pant and Iyer, accompanied this time by Prithvi Shaw, have begun to torment bowling attacks, delivering two wins in their past three games. It may well be too late again.
Why hasn't Jos Buttler been opening?
Jos Buttler opened in 10 games for Mumbai Indians last season and scored 272 runs at a strike rate of 153.67. But this season, he had not batted higher than No. 5 till the shortened game against Delhi Daredevils. After he smashed 67 off 26 balls, there were, understandably, some murmurings about how he should have been up top from the start.
Buttler's position has been decided less by his own abilities as his teammates'. Royals came in to the tournament stacked in the top order, with Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi and D'Arcy Short all in the squad. But in the middle order, they had only Ben Stokes as a reliable hitter. Rahane strikes at just 116.34 when he bats at No.5 or lower, Short has never batted anywhere but in the top two, and even Samson, who does score rapidly in the death when he's already set, strikes at just 111.18 when he comes in after No.4. Buttler has actually batted in the middle order for most of his career - he has opened in just 23 of his 221 T20 games - and so was assigned that role.
When asked if Buttler would continue to open after his innings in Delhi, Royals captain Rahane said it was an option but not a certainty.
What happened to the BBL D'Arcy Short?
For those who follow T20 cricket globally, D'Arcy Short was one of the most exciting additions to the IPL this season. He had been the leading run-getter in the 2017-18 Big Bash League, scoring his runs at 148.57, and then got two fifties and two thirties for Australia in his first five T20 internationals. But after five innings for Royals, Short has cost his team almost 40 runs thanks to a smart strike rate of 75.80. So what has gone wrong? He can't seem to get the spinners away. He's attempting a few too many flicks and on drives (20 combined off the 53 balls he's faced from spinners) and they are not yielding many runs. And it doesn't help that he's only in control around 71% of the time against spinners.
Teams have figured this out and are bowling as much spin to him as possible. Daredevils got in eight balls from Shahbaz Nadeem and Amit Mishra to Short that went for just five runs, and though Short eventually accelerated against Glenn Maxwell, the asking rate for Royals had already climbed to 17.00 per over by then.
One thing Short may want to try is going down the Chris Lynn route and pulling out the sweep shot. He's attempted just one sweep against spinners this IPL.
Why was Maxwell given the 10th over?
With Royals needing 52 off 18 balls, Shreyas Iyer handed the ball to part-time offspinner Glenn Maxwell. This might have seemed like an odd decision, but Iyer did not have much of a choice. Since the game had been reduced to 12 overs, only two bowlers were allowed to bowl a quota of three, with everyone else allowed only two or less. Four bowlers had completed two overs each, and Iyer wanted Plunkett and Boult to each bowl their third. That meant he needed to get one over from either Shahbaz Nadeem, Vijay Shankar or Maxwell. Iyer clearly did not want to expose the medium pace of Shankar to Short and opted for Maxwell over Nadeem, perhaps, because he would turn the ball away from the left-hander rather than in to him. It nearly cost Daredevils big, as Short hit Maxwell's first three balls for six before holing out.