Ashwin keeps his promise

"You'll not be able to predict my next move. All players you think are going to open will play in the middle order and all the middle-order batsmen will open."

Ahead of this season, R Ashwin promised to be a funky captain, and while many of his moves this IPL have already been out-of-the-box, his decision to promote himself to No. 3 in the batting order outdid them all. Chris Gayle's second single-digit score of the season and Mayank Agarwal's exclusion from the starting XI would ideally have meant a promotion for Karun Nair or the incoming Akshdeep Nath. However, it was Ashwin who walked in at one drop to face K Gowtham.

Ashwin has opened the batting in the IPL once before and come in to bat as high as No. 4, both times in low-scoring, successful chases. This time, a two-ball duck was all he could manage, done in by a conventional offbreak from Gowtham. Ashwin's Powerplay batting in the IPL does not make for good reading: 12 runs off 26 balls, 20 of them dots. Two of these three times, he has been dismissed within the first over without doing much. Ashwin's move came after Rajasthan Royals had also done the same, by promoting Gowtham to No. 3, where he only managed 8 off 6 balls.

How slow was Jos Buttler after the Powerplay?

Why Royals took so long to ask Jos Buttler to open is anyone's guess, but his innings against Kings XI was another example of how his rollicking starts in the first six overs have given way to sedate middle-overs phases. Buttler has scored nearly 65% of all his IPL runs in boundaries, and once the fielding restrictions are over, his strike rate drops from 164.9 to 116.7. ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, our new metrics for T20 cricket, indicate he consistently scores slower than the batsman at the other end, and much lesser than the overall innings run rate in the middle overs.

Against Kings XI, Buttler's slowdown wasn't compensated for by any acceleration from the other end, with no fours or sixes coming from his partners for 42 balls between overs 7 and 13. His dismissal in the 17th over didn't help matters either, and with Gowtham already out, Royals managed only 26 runs for four wickets off the last 22 balls.

How much more can KL Rahul do?

No side has been dependent on a single batsman this IPL as much as Kings XI have been on KL Rahul. After ten innings, he is the top scorer in IPL 2018 with 471 runs, having scored 29% of his team's total runs so far, at a staggering average of 58.87. After ten games, Kings XI's middle-order batsmen (Nos. 3-6), however, average an abysmal 19.43 runs per dismissal, the lowest among all teams, with only one fifty from a cumulative 36 innings.

Against the same bowling attack on Sunday, Rahul had chased down a similar total, waiting till the end overs to accelerate after a sluggish start. In Jaipur, on a bigger ground, Kings XI batsmen only managed eight fours and one six till the end of the 18th over, with a number of them getting out trying to play release shots. On Tuesday, Rahul managed to hit a surfeit of boundaries towards the end, but by then it was way too late to catch up.

Does Jofra Archer have the most effective yorker in the business?

Archer's yorkers have been far more productive than any other bowler this season so far, snaffling four wickets from 16 balls, at an economy rate of 3.75. No other bowler in the competition has managed more than one wicket, and his accuracy was on view at the death, again, on Tuesday, even while up against Rahul. His 17th over, which went for just four runs, swung the game decisively in favour of the Royals.

While measuring accuracy of yorkers, one trend that often goes unnoticed is how frequently bowlers miss yorker lengths and go for runs off full-tosses and half-volleys. A closer look at Archer's record shows that he lands over 63% of his intended yorkers on target, which is a higher rate than even Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In his short career so far, he has picked up eight wickets off 47 successful yorkers at an economy rate of 2.94 - numbers superior to more accomplished T20 stars. A side strain might have initially kept him out of the tournament this season, meaning he'd debut only in Royals' seventh game, but if they make it to the playoffs somehow, they will have his bowling to thank.