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Match Analysis

Why did Mumbai pick Jayant Yadav for Hardik Pandya?

Also: why did the Capitals leave out Axar Patel, their most economical bowler this season?



Here are the big talking points from the 51st game of IPL 2020, between the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Capitals.
Why did Mumbai leave out Hardik Pandya and pick Jayant Yadav?
Before Saturday's game, the Mumbai Indians were already guaranteed a playoffs spot, and their net run rate was good enough to all but ensure they'd finish in the top two as well. Given that, the packed schedule, the weather conditions in the UAE, and the fact that Hardik came into the tournament after undergoing back surgery, it made sense for Mumbai to rest him.
Hardik's workload has reduced following his surgery and he hasn't bowled at all this season. By picking Jayant Yadav, Mumbai gave themselves a genuine sixth bowling option for the first time this season. They probably picked the offspin-bowling allrounder specifically to bowl to the left-hand batsmen in the Delhi Capitals line-up: Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer and - Mumbai might have assumed before the match - Axar Patel.
Why did the Capitals leave out Axar?
Axar has had an excellent season for the Capitals. He has taken eight wickets in 11 matches while conceding just 6.13 per over - no one in the Capitals squad has a better economy rate - and he has also made a couple of key contributions with the bat, most vitally his unbeaten 21 off five balls, including three last-over sixes, which won a tight game against the Chennai Super Kings.
But in matches against teams with a lot of left-hand batsmen in their line-up, the Capitals have been reluctant to use the left-arm spin of Axar. Against the Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah, he only bowled one over during Yashasvi Jaiswal's 12.1 over stay at the crease, and only two overs in all. More recently, he only bowled one over altogether against the Kolkata Knight Riders, who had at least one left-hand batsman at the crease throughout their innings.
With Mumbai's line-up including Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Saurabh Tiwary and Krunal Pandya, the Capitals preferred Praveen Dubey, a wristspinner unknown to the opposition, to Axar.
Why did Mumbai bowl three overs of spin within the powerplay?
In 12 matches before this one, Mumbai had only bowled 11 overs of spin within the powerplay - in the same number of games, the Royal Challengers Bangalore had bowled 21 overs of spin, and the Capitals 18 overs.
On Saturday, however, half of Mumbai's overs in the powerplay were delivered by the spinners. This, again, was down to match-ups. Dhawan's dismissal in the first over of the match brought two right-hand batsmen together, and Mumbai promptly brought on Krunal Pandya to bowl his left-arm spin to them, in the second over. Trent Boult struck again in the third over, bringing the left-handed Rishabh Pant to the crease, and Yadav came on in the fourth over to target him.
The right-handed Shreyas Iyer was on strike, though, and the same was the case when Yadav continued his spell in the sixth over. In using Yadav, Mumbai were also perhaps throwing a challenge to Iyer, who is capable of hitting big sixes against spin, and offspin in particular. With the Capitals two down early, they were asking him if he wanted to chance his arm against Yadav, and against the long boundaries in Dubai. Iyer hit one six off Yadav in the eighth over, but only scored 14 off 11 balls against him overall, partly because of his own caution stemming from the match situation, and partly because of Yadav's tight control over his line and length.
Why did Bumrah bowl his third over so early?
A stuttering Capitals innings suffered a major blow when Jasprit Bumrah dismissed Marcus Stoinis and Rishabh Pant in the 12th over. The Capitals were 63 for 5 at that stage, and Bumrah had two overs left to bowl.
Normally, Mumbai would have reserved both those overs for the death, but given the Capitals' situation, and also given how much seam movement Bumrah had generated through that 12th over - he had ended it by beating Harshal Patel's outside edge twice in a row - they bowled his third over at the earliest possible moment, giving him the 14th over. They were hoping he could get another wicket, and ensure that the Capitals' last really threatening pair - Shimron Hetmyer and Harshal - didn't build a partnership that could hurt Mumbai. They got their wish, as Bumrah trapped Harshal lbw off the last ball of the over - a review would have saved him, with ball-tracking suggesting the ball would have missed the top of the stumps, but Pant had already used up the Capitals' review.
Should Mumbai continue opening with Kishan even when Rohit returns?
Since his move to the top of the order to fill in for Rohit Sharma's injury-enforced absence, Ishan Kishan has scored 68*, 37, 25 and 72* in four innings, at a strike rate of 145.32. Those are stunning numbers, and Mumbai might be tempted to continue with Kishan in this role even when Sharma returns. A middle-order role wouldn't be new to Sharma - he has only opened in 43 of his 157 innings for Mumbai, though he has not batted in the middle order for them since May 2018.
Whichever way they go, it won't be an easy choice to make. Sharma averages 33.63 while opening for Mumbai, and has a strike rate of 130.27. Elsewhere, he averages 31.07 and strikes at 130.66.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo