Match Analysis

Did the Capitals err in not starting with Ashwin against Gayle?

Also, why is Prithvi Shaw struggling after a brisk start to the tournament?

Nagraj Gollapudi
R Ashwin aced his match-up against Chris Gayle  •  BCCI

R Ashwin aced his match-up against Chris Gayle  •  BCCI

Talking points from the IPL 2020 game between the Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab in Dubai
Did Capitals err in not starting with Ashwin against Gayle?
In eight innings before Tuesday, R Ashwin had got Chris Gayle four times for just 49 runs in 59 balls. Ashwin has been the third-highest wicket taker in Powerplay this IPL. And yet Delhi Capitals' captain Shreyas Iyer asked uncapped Indian fast bowler Tushar Deshpande to deliver the penultimate over of powerplay against Gayle, who was new to the crease. Deshpande was playing only his third IPL match. Gayle did not ask for any generosity, but said "thank you, Iyer" by blasting Deshpande for 26 runs, the most expensive over by a Capitals bowler this IPL.
Ashwin was asked to deliver the sixth over. Second ball, he tossed a slider that Gayle attempted to sweep but was beaten in the flight and was bowled. Ashwin was proud. Iyer might have heaved a sigh of relief, but Gayle's onslaught had provided Kings XI Punjab the momentum.
Why is Prithvi Shaw struggling?
7, 0,0, 4, 19. Prithvi Shaw's scores in the last five matches including against the Kings XI. It has been a surprising dip in form for a player who had cracked two half-centuries in the Capitals' first four matches and then hit nearly third against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
During his lean run, both his mindset and his technique have come into question. Bowlers have pulled their lengths back against Shaw which has forced him to fetch deliveries outside his hitting arc. Bowlers who have his number are confident they can trap him; Jofra Archer has got Shaw twice this IPL: bowled him with a fierce delivery that seamed in and then accepted a top edge.
Deepak Chahar has got Shaw six times across all IPLs, including once in this tournament. On Tuesday, Jimmy Neesham pitched back of length and on the fourth stump. Shaw was just playing the second delivery from Neesham, but went chasing the ball, skying it straight to Glenn Maxwell at wide long-off. That Shaw has a technical problem was highlighted in the same over when Neesham bowled to the Capitals' captain Shreyas Iyer. The ball was pitched on length and much wider than the previous delivery that had got Shaw out. Iyer moved his front leg towards the pitch of the ball and with a still head stroked it high over cover for a second-ball six - a difficult shot made to look easy.
Former India opener and captain Sunil Gavaskar on air summarised Shaw's issue: his front foot was on the leg side when he connected the ball thus showing he was out of balance. Gavaskar said Shaw needed to carry out a "lot of work ahead" to "tighten up his technique considerably."
How Dhawan has 'swept' to glory?
There are many things Shikhar Dhawan did on Tuesday that were much better, much smarter than his team-mates. Among them is a shot that fetched him many, many runs. A shot that Dhawan has utilised to maximum effect to accelerate and dominate the spinners in particular.
That shot is the sweep - conventional, slog and paddle. Overall this IPL, nobody has scored more runs off the sweep than Dhawan - 82 off 27 balls at a stunning strike rate of nearly 304. He attacked the Kings XI's legspin pair of M Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi as well Glenn Maxwell's offbreaks with the sweep, blasting 27 runs from just seven balls.
Why did Capitals slow down in death overs?
Despite majestic batting from Dhawan, the Capitals managed just 38 runs in the final four overs. The power-hitting pair of Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer could manage just 19 runs off 16 deliveries, hitting just one boundary between them.
This was one critical phase where Kings XI excelled and it played a significant role in the victory. Coming into the match today, KL Rahul's team had been the worst in death bowling, leaking runs at 13.82 per over. In the nine matches before today, the Kings XI's bowlers had been hit for 417 runs from 181 deliveries.
Credit has to be given to Mohammed Shami who has delivered yorkers willfully this IPL. Last Sunday he held his nerve in the double Super-Over victory against the Mumbai Indians. On Tuesday, Shami bowled two of the four overs at death, filled with yorkers, and gave away just 13 runs while accounting for Stoinis and Hetmyer.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo