Ashwin's left-hand tactics negate Mumbai's spinners

We should have bowled a bit shorter in the death - Ashwin (0:54)

The Kings XI Punjab captain admits they haven't been a great fielding side and conceded 10 extra runs that they shouldn't have (0:54)

R Ashwin had seen something in the pitch at the Holkar Stadium that suggested there was going to be assistance for spin. Axar Patel had returned to the team as the third spinner. He made this even more clear through an aggressive tactic designed to keep Mumbai Indians from bowling as few overs of spin as possible.

The way to do that to Mumbai is by making sure Krunal Pandya doesn't bowl often. He had come into the match having conceded 24 from four overs in his previous game, at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. He ended up bowling only one over on the night as the presence of Chris Gayle, then Yuvraj Singh, then a promoted Axar Patel - all left-handed batsmen - kept Rohit Sharma apprehensive about using left-arm spin.

"They had a legspinner [Mayank Markande] from Punjab," Ashwin said at the post-match conference of the decisions to have Yuvraj at No. 3 and Axar at No. 5. "Yuvi [Yuvraj] is from Punjab. And they had Krunal, so we thought we'd take advantage of that."

It was an evening where Rohit's bowling choices were dictated by the batting team. Only in their two games against Sunrisers Hyderabad had Mumbai Indians previously bowled Jasprit Bumrah for more than an over in the Powerplay this season, before Friday.

Against the destructive opening pair of KL Rahul and Gayle, it was a ploy - along with the decision to bowl three of Mitchell McClenaghan's overs in the Powerplay - to make an early breakthrough and expose a fragile middle order. But even when the opening eventually came, Rohit couldn't bring on his trusted left-armer. When he did come on, in the 13th over, he was slogged for six first ball.

"The team's always ahead of the individual. So when the situation suits me, I bowl, and someone else doesn't," Krunal said. "Today two left-handers were batting at the same time - Gayle and Yuvraj - so the situation wasn't there for a left-arm spinner to bowl. It happens. Sometimes you get to bowl, sometimes you don't. Eventually what matters is that the team wins. So I'm happy because that was my first priority."

Krunal is Mumbai's most economical bowler after Bumrah this season and was going at 7.04 in eight matches prior to Friday. He has also chipped in with some game-changing wickets in games against Chennai Super Kings, RCB and Delhi Daredevils. Mumbai bowled only five overs of spin against Kings XI. In comparison, Kings XI would bowl five in the first eight overs. On a pitch Ashwin described as "sticky", the plan to restrict the overs of spin played seemed to have worked. However, Yuvraj and Axar, even if they kept Krunal out, combined to make only 27 runs off 26 balls between them.

"The wicket was a little sticky at the start. We thought that getting more than 180 would be a good score but we lost wickets in the middle overs after setting it up nicely. The finish wasn't ideal," Ashwin said. "That has been the only problem; our middle order hasn't fired. Guys like Aaron Finch haven't fired yet. But that could change soon.

"We have a lot of firepower in the batting but it's not like we can go all the time and score 200-220. It can happen that the opposition has good bowlers. They had Bumrah who bowled really well today. And it's possible that he was the difference today because he bowled well both in the Powerplay and at the end. So it was a case of our middle-order not firing."

The consequences were severe. Through yet another solid innings from Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai had set themselves up to get about two runs per ball in the last five overs. In that phase, they had their two best batsmen at the crease: Rohit, who has made 100 off 49 in the death overs this season, and Krunal himself, who has made 100 off 60 in that phase. In the space of a single over in the chase, Krunal made 24 runs that swiftly put an end to Kings XI's resistance.

"We restricted them nicely. The pitch wasn't so bad. It was a batting wicket that was a little on the slower side and not so flat. It was slow but the ground was so small that it got compensated. So we thought 175 is a chaseable total on this ground because the last time we played here, we chased down 196 [199] in 14-15 [15.3] overs," Krunal said.

"In the last match I had the same opportunity to close off the game against RCB. We needed about the same in the last five overs and I couldn't deliver at the time for the team. So I was a little more motivated this time. It was good to complete the job."