Why did Washington Sundar not bowl early on?
It's a slow, low surface, and offspinner Washington Sundar is at Chepauk, his home ground, where he has played most of his cricket, but he hasn't been used in the first 12 overs of the 2021 IPL opener. The most obvious reasons for this might be all the right-hand batsmen at the top of Mumbai Indians' batting order. However, there is another trend at play here.
Sundar came to prominence with his superb restrictive performances with the ball in the powerplay for Rising Pune Supergiant. Then he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2018 where he is not looked at as that new-ball specialist. So 2017 remains the only IPL in which he bowled more overs in the powerplay than in the middle overs.
Protecting fingerspinners against right-hand batsmen makes sense, but if there is an offspinner you would back against right-hand batsmen, it is Sundar. Before he bowled the 13th over in this match, in all IPL cricket, he had a better average against right-hand batsmen than left (26.4 as against 39.22) and only a slightly worse economy rate (6.9 as against 6.83). Sure enough he took out the threatening Chris Lynn, a right-hand batsman, on 49.
How did Harshal Patel outdo the Mumbai Indians hitting machinery?
Harshal Patel's five-for was the first five-wicket haul against Mumbai Indians in all IPLs. More important than that, his bowling at the death kept Mumbai to just 25 off the last four overs, their lowest in this period since 2016. Harshal took the wickets of the designated death-overs hitters, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya, to go with Ishan Kishan, in his last three overs.
Two things happened, which both had to do with the pitch in all likelihood. The ball reversed for him, and it gripped the surface too. It was probably down to a dry track. It was expected that the bowlers would go for slower balls into the surface to use both the surface and the dimensions of the ground, but the little bit of tail made Harshal even more dangerous. The Royal Challengers bowled 23 slower balls in the last five overs, which accounted for four wickets and just 29 runs.
Why no Jasprit Bumrah against Glenn Maxwell?
Rohit Sharma and Mumbai Indians are big on match-ups. And here was an obvious match-up if ever there was one: Japsrit Bumrah had taken Glenn Maxwell out six times in 58 balls in T20 cricket for just 67 runs before this. Sharma usually brings Bumrah on as soon as Maxwell comes out to bat, but not on this occasion. By the time Bumrah came on to bowl to him, in the 13th over, Maxwell had scored 34 off 21, including his first six in the IPL in his last 172 balls.
It is highly unlikely Sharma was not aware of the match-up. Was he trying to save Bumrah for AB de Villiers? Or did he think a slightly older ball would provide Bumrah's slower balls more grip?
Staying with match-ups, Mumbai played themselves into an unfavourable one. Three overs to go, 34 to get, Bumrah to bowl the 19th, and two specialist bowlers to pick from either side of that. One of them a debutant, Marco Jansen, the other a veteran, Trent Boult. However, Boult to de Villiers in the IPL has not even been a contest: 16 balls, 41 runs, three sixes, four fours.
You could see why Mumbai might have wanted to protect Jansen a little, though. Hope to bowl two really good overs and give him over 15 to defend in the last over. de Villiers, though, got stuck into Boult and changed his numbers to 55 off 21 balls from Boult in the IPL. The Royal Challengers now needed just 19 off the last two.
Given Jansen's lack of experience, Sharma's hand was perhaps forced, but he did have another option: Pollard, who has bowled 33 balls to de Villiers for 33 runs and has got him out four times. Now we don't know if Pollard is bowling-fit or not, but Sharma has tended to use him sparingly as a bowler in the past. With Hardik Pandya underarming throws from the deep on the night, Mumbai might want to look at Pollard as the sixth bowling option. Preferably not in the 18th over, though.