Why did Jofra Archer not bowl his third over in the powerplay?
The TV commentators, including former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop, seemed to be surprised when the Rajasthan Royals captain Steven Smith asked Kartik Tyagi to bowl the fifth over of the Kings XI Punjab innings. The pundits wondered if it would have been a better idea for Archer to bowl his third over instead, especially with Chris Gayle having gotten off to a brisk start.
Archer's economy of 4.58 (minimum two overs) is the best in powerplay this IPL. You could see his impact straightaway as the Kings XI, after three overs, were just 14 for 1 having lost Mandeep Singh, who was totally at sea facing a perfect short delivery from the England quick. The Kings XI managed to finish the powerplay on 53 for 1 with Gayle and his captain KL Rahul making 39 runs in three overs delivered by Varun Aaron (two overs) and Tyagi (one).
So why did Smith not continue with Archer? Andrew McDonald, the Royals' head coach, speaking to Star Sports, admitted that with Archer's pace upfront with the new ball he was always an enticing option. However, Archer has not bowled more than two overs in the powerplay this IPL. That is mainly because he is preserved for the death where the Royals have the worst economy - 12.40 - in the tournament. Archer is the best death bowler (minimum five overs in the phase) for the Royals with an economy of 10.90. And he proved that by nailing the perfect yorker to deny Gayle a century in the final over.
Why did Shreyas Gopal bowl just one over?
Gayle. That is the simple answer. The Jamaican has a phenomenal career strike rate of nearly 188 in all T20s against legspin. Gayle faced Shreyas for the first time in the IPL, but he did not need much time to get acquainted as he slog-swept a six in the first over delivered by the Royals' spinner to make it clear who was in command.
Shreyas would not return to bowl for the rest of the innings. In 11 of the 13 matches this season, he has bowled his full quota. Not bowling Shreyas was even more surprising considering he has a better economy against left-handers in the IPL. Overall, he has an economy of 7.45 (34 innings) as compared to 7.82 (42 innings) against right-hand batsmen.
Why did Maxwell not bowl in the Powerplay?
Four bowlers delivered the Powerplay overs for Kings XI. One name missing was Glenn Maxwell. The Australian has opened the bowling for Kings XI this IPL twice. Overall he had bowled five overs in Powerplay giving away 44 runs while taking one wicket. That was the first-ball duck by Kolkata Knight Riders' Nitish Rana. Maxwell had not bowled much against Ben Stokes and Robin Uthappa in the past, but had not let the pair dominate. One viable reason could be Kings XI wanted their best bowlers to get rid of Stokes, who had scored a match-winning century in Royal's previous match. In the end Royals were 66 for the loss of Stokes, whose quickfire half-century gave Royals an electric start, which played a big winning hand in Royals' victory eventually.
Did Kings XI get enough due the slow approach by Rahul and Gayle?
After 15 overs Royals were 146 for 3. Comparatively Kings XI were 123 for 2 with five overs to go. It was in that 15th over Rahul had got out having made a run-a-ball 46 form 41 deliveries. In a match where batsmen such as Nicholas Pooran, Stokes, Sanju Samson scored at a strike rate of 200-plus, Rahul's lingered at 110 after Powerplay. It remained 112 at the point he got out.
Despite him being the tournament's highest runmaker right through this IPL, Rahul's intent has been questioned, especially him playing at slower tempo which in turn cramps the team's runflow. Even Gayle has to take some blame. Despite Gayle's fiery start and fireworks towards the end it was one of the slowest centuries form the T20 great. The biggest handicap for his batting partner with Gayle at the crease is you can't take the tight singles and convert the singles into twos, which hurts the momentum.
But today Rahul should have taken the initiative. With the likes of Pooran and Maxwell and with Gayle wanting to play till the end, Rahul could have shown more aggression.
Rahul bypassed the query from Bishop after the defeat when asked whether the target was enough. He felt it on a "sticky wicket" Kings XI had done well and it was the dew that robbed his bowlers from getting a grip on things.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo