How good was Washington Sundar in the powerplay?
In a game that aggregated 402 runs and ultimately needed a Super Over to separate the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, offspin-bowling allrounder Washington Sundar was the only bowler to come away with a boundary-less spell. He returned figures of 1 for 12 in his four overs, including 13 dots. According to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, his 12 runs were worth minus 14.48 and his Smart Economy rate was minus 3.62.
In the Royal Challengers' first two games this season, Sundar had bowled a grand total of three overs and none in the powerplay, a phase where he thrived at Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017 and later for India in T20Is. Before Tuesday, Sundar had bowled only seven overs in all for the Royal Challengers in the powerplay, conceding 12.3 runs an over. The high economy rate was partly down to the smaller boundaries at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and his working his way back from an ankle injury in 2018.
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Since his IPL debut in April 2017, Sundar has given up 7.53 runs an over in the powerplay. Among fingerspinners, who have bowled at least 100 balls in the powerplay, only Mujeeb ur Rahman, Sunil Narine, and Mohammad Nabi have fared better than Sundar in terms of economy rate in the first six overs. But then again, Narine and Mujeeb aren't your conventional offspinners.
With the Royal Challengers shaking up their combination - both Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav, who had bowled in the powerplay against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI, were omitted - Virat Kohli tossed the new ball to Sundar. In their first two games of the season, the Royal Challengers attack didn't pick up a single wicket in the powerplay, but Sundar broke that duck with his fourth ball. After starting with three dots, Sundar slid one in on a hard length, cramped Rohit Sharma for room and made him hit to the longer boundary. Even Sharma couldn't clear that fence and holed out for a run-a-ball 8.
According to ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data, Sundar did not overpitch a single delivery. He darted two short balls for no runs and claimed Sharma. He kept it on a length for 22 balls and gave up a mere 12 runs.
Is Bumrah's form a concern for Mumbai?
While Jasprit Bumrah was outstanding in isolation in his first three overs against the Kolkata Knight Riders, claiming 3-0-5-2, he has been Mumbai's most expensive bowler overall in IPL 2020, going at 9.75 an over. In 2017 when Mumbai secured their third title, Bumrah conceded only nine sixes in the entire season, in 16 matches. In 2019, when Mumbai won their record fourth title, he conceded 10 sixes in the entire season. Three games into IPL 2020, he has conceded nine sixes already. On Tuesday, de Villiers got on top of him, slamming him for 27 off a mere eight balls. He underpitched his yorkers and leaked two fours and a six off three full balls against de Villiers. The one length delivery he bowled was also smoked for six.
Bumrah erred in round two against de Villiers too, in the Super Over. He raised Mumbai's hopes when he let rip a throat-high bouncer and seemingly had him caught behind, only for de Villiers to overturn the on-field on decision with a review. The fourth ball of the over was another short ball, but with fine leg inside the circle, de Villiers' top-edged hook carried over that fielder for four and tipped the Super Over the Royal Challengers' way. If that was a bluff from Mumbai, it was a high-risk plan that went against them.
These are still early days and dew has also hindered bowlers in chases, but is Bumrah's form a concern for Mumbai? In the absence of Lasith Malinga, who has opted out of the tournament for personal reasons, and Nathan Coulter-Nile, who is recovering from injury, the onus is on Bumrah to shake off the rust swiftly and lead Mumbai's attack.
Did the longer boundary have a big impact on the game?
With one square boundary (82 metres) being bigger than the other (68 metres), it sure did matter in a game of fine margins. Sundar said at the post-match press conference that it was plan from the Royal Challengers bowlers to deny Mumbai's batsmen access to the shorter boundaries. Sundar himself had Rohit caught on the long square boundary and Hardik Pandya couldn't clear it either, holing out for 15 off 13 balls. In the Super Over, too, Pollard was unable to beat the boundary fielder when Navdeep Saini speared a low full-toss at him. If this was the Wankhede or the Chinnaswamy Stadium, these hits may have produced boundaries.
"I think that's how the dimensions are in Dubai," Sundar said. "You need a lot of planning to go in with especially one side is big and one side is not so big. It's fun, as in even bowlers get some purchase and [in] the first innings they [Mumbai bowlers] did get some slowness and even in the first half of the second innings it was slow, but later on dew came on and things became a little difficult for bowlers. Yes, the dimensions will help the bowlers going forward."
With the Royal Challengers needing eight off the Super Over bowled by Bumrah, Kohli told host broadcaster Star that the unusual ground dimensions dictated the choice of batsmen - himself and de Villiers. Earlier in the evening Kohli had laboured to 3 off 11 balls in regulation time, but with Bumrah set to bowl to the longer boundaries, the Royal Challengers captain said his plan was to send in the two batsmen best equipped to run twos.