Hey MI. There's this guy in the dugout. First name Rohit, last name Sharma. #KXIPvMI— Raunak Kapoor (@RaunakRK) May 4, 2018
Much needed win for Mumbai Indians, keeps them in the hunt and also hood for the tournament. Rohit Sharma, whenever he is there unbeaten at the end, he invariably takes his side home. Punjab were 15-20 short at this ground #KXIPvsMI— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) May 4, 2018
Why didn't Rohit bat at No. 3?
At the midway point of Mumbai Indians' chase, there was disbelief that Rohit Sharma had not come out at No. 3. By the end of the game, he was getting an award for it.
Rohit said he knew the ground well - he scored a century against Sri Lanka in December in Indore - and wanted to be there at the end as he knew where to hit boundaries at the death. Was it the right decision?
Logic suggests that Rohit can make most use of his skills by batting in the top three. He takes his time to get set and can score centuries - he's got four of them in T20s, all when batting in the top three. But perhaps the reasons for Rohit batting lower down are based primarily on dressing-room psychology rather than statistics. Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan probably feel more secure at the crease knowing Rohit is still to come. The Pandya brothers and even Kieron Pollard, who missed the game against Kings XI, may benefit from having Rohit at the other end in the last stages of a tense chase. All three of them have a partnership average of more than 35 with Rohit.
Mumbai are lucky enough to have two in-form openers and proven late hitters in the Pandya brothers and Pollard, but ultimately, it's where and how Rohit bats that will probably dictate their progress.
Ashwin's gamble doesn't pay off
With Mumbai needing 57 off five overs, Ashwin made the bold move of bringing on his death-over specialist Andrew Tye when many captains would have tried to get in an over from someone else and save Tye for the 17th and 19th overs. Tye did his part, taking the wicket of Hardik Pandya and going for just seven. But then, Ashwin had to get in two overs from Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Marcus Stoinis, who had not bowled in the death at all this season. Stoinis has bowled mostly length this tournament and has a habit of overpitching and delivering full tosses, just what the batsmen wanted on a slow pitch. His 20-run 18th over turned the game in Mumbai's favour.
Ashwin will need to think about his team's death-bowling options before the next game and may consider bringing back Mohit Sharma, who bowled a fine last over to win Kings XI their home game against Chennai Super Kings earlier in the tournament.
Why Yuvraj was sent in at No. 3
Everyone's talking about your poor form and how it may be "the end", you get dropped, then you catch a break as your replacements don't do much better than you did. And just when you think you've slipped back in to the team without too many people noticing, your captain shoves you in to the spotlight by promoting you to No.3. That's just the way it goes when your name is Yuvraj Singh.
So why did R Ashwin promote Yuvraj? Kings XI have problems with their middle order. Before this game, they were striking at just 113.5 when neither Chris Gayle nor KL Rahul was in, so Ashwin must have been intent on shaking things up. Yuvraj has never been someone who gets going quickly and of late has been taking even longer than usual. In IPLs since 2015, he strikes at just 114.00 for the first 20 balls he's at the crease. From balls 20 to 30, his strike rate is 155.1 and then after 30 balls, it shoots up to 204.3. That means that whenever Yuvraj has faced 30-plus balls in an innings, since IPL 2015, he strikes at 140.61.
So the idea was to give Yuvraj 30-plus balls to face. The problem is, he's only done that five times in 39 IPL innings since 2015. He often ends up playing a momentum-stopping innings, such as the 14 off 14 balls one he did against Mumbai.
Why did JP Duminy bowl?
Mumbai Indians have six frontline bowlers, yet for the second game in a row, Rohit Sharma used part-time offspinner JP Duminy. He's been doing it to get the ball turning away from left-handers - Mumbai don't have a frontline offspinner. With Chris Gayle and Yuvraj at the crease, he brought on Duminy before Krunal Pandya was introduced.
Here's what the numbers say on turning the ball away from the batsman. In IPL matches before this one, left-handers struck at 135.50 against bowlers who spun it in to them compared to 126.67 against those turning it away, a significant difference considering the number of matches played. Right-handers don't seem to have as much of an issue with the ball turning away, striking at 119.67 against left-arm and legspin compared to 122.17 against offspinners and left-arm wristspinners.
Those numbers are also the reason Kings XI promoted left-hander Axar Patel to face the left-arm spin of Krunal Pandya.