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Feature

Why did Kings XI hold back Maxwell?

And have Kolkata Knight Riders finally found their No. 4? More on talking points

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
10-Oct-2020
Here are the major talking points from the IPL 2020 game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi
Why did Prabhsimran bat ahead of Maxwell?
Kings XI Punjab needed only 21 from 16 balls when their second wicket fell, with captain KL Rahul at the other end, and Mayank Agarwal and Nicholas Pooran back in the dugout. The stage was set for Kings XI to send Glenn Maxwell and give him the confidence to win them the match, or just give the strike to Rahul. But they decided to send an inexperienced Prabhsimran Singh ahead of both Maxwell and Mandeep Singh.
Prabhsimran, 20, had played only two IPL games before this one with a high score of 16 and was facing Sunil Narine at a crucial stage. Narine, in his remaining four deliveries of the 18th over, spun a web around Prabhsimran with his offbreaks and carrom balls and happily conceded a single on the last ball which gave the strike back to Prabhsimran for the next over. That over, in which Narine conceded just two, turned the match and Kings XI had a batsman like Maxwell sitting in the dugout.
One possible reason, but not a convincing one, behind Prabhsimran batting ahead of Maxwell could be the way the 20-year-old had batted in the previous game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. In his eight-ball stay, he crunched two boundaries with authority and had even middled the delivery which got him out, but it went straight to cover point. Maxwell's dry run of 48 runs from six innings and his match-up of 70 runs off 61 balls with two dismissals against Narine probably made Kings XI take that decision, but it was not at the right stage of the game or the tournament.
How is Ravi Bishnoi so successful against left-hand batsmen?
Bishnoi's left-hand victims this IPL include Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, David Warner, and now Eoin Morgan. He's a legspinner on paper but he hardly bowls a legbreak to left-hand batsmen. Bishnoi, when bowling to left-hand batsmen, uses his angle very well from wide of the crease over the wicket and keeps bowling a mix of wrong'uns and sliders that keep beating the outside edge and make him an atypical legspinner.
In the first game, Pant kept missing his slog sweeps against Bishnoi, expecting the ball to come in, but it never turned into him and he eventually chopped on. On Saturday, Morgan was quick to adjust to Bishnoi's lack of legbreaks and even tried some reverse sweeps to play with the angle. But when he tried to loft a wrong'un on the off side, he changed the shot at the last moment and ended up holing out to long-on because he was early into the shot. Bishnoi has eight wickets so far this IPL of which four are left-hand batsmen.
Why did Nitish Rana bowl and not Andre Russell?
The Knight Riders have plenty of bowling options but they had to turn to the part-time bowling of Rana after Russell injured himself while fielding in the second over of the chase. While running backwards from mid-off to catch a skier from Rahul, Russell got both hands to the ball but failed to hold on, and then put in a slide while trying to save a boundary that ended in him ramming into the ad boards at the boundary. Russell went off the field immediately and since he has been bowling crucial overs in the death, the Knight Riders thought of using an over from Rana to keep the other bowlers for the end of the chase. Rana's over also cost them only seven runs.
Russell returned to the field briefly but went out again while clutching his dodgy right knee, for the rest of the chase.
How is Arshdeep bowling so well against top batsmen?
Medium-pace bowler Arshdeep Singh had impressed so much in the death overs against Sunrisers that he was given the new ball with Mohammed Shami on Saturday. Bowling to Rahul Tripathi, he bowled a dramatic maiden that included two edges that didn't carry and beat the opener three other times in the same over. He extracted good seam movement, used the angle from over the wicket very well and even surprised Tripathi with a bouncer.
In the death overs he often comes around the wicket and stifles right-hand batsmen with his cutters and the angle. He also showed against the Knight Riders how smartly he changes plans. Bowling to Russell in the 19th over, the leg-side boundary was much shorter than on off, and Arshdeep decided to go back to over the wicket. It meant Russell would have to hit against the angle to target that shorter boundary. Arshdeep bowled two full and wide deliveries well out of Russell's arc, and even though the first was hit for four, Russell only managed an outside edge to the keeper off the second when he went for a big swing.
Why do Knight Riders keep changing their No. 4?
The Knight Riders' No. 4 batsmen this season have been: Rana vs Mumbai Indians, Dinesh Karthik vs Sunrisers, Russell vs Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals, Narine vs Chennai Super Kings and now Morgan against Kings XI. Halfway into the league stage, it is possible that the Knight Riders are slowly settling down on their ideal XI with a better idea of whom to bat where.
Earlier in the tournament they were opening with Narine and tried sending Russell at No. 4 and Morgan at No. 6, with Karthik in between to separate the two hard-hitting overseas batsman. It is always argued that batsmen like Russell are not sent in early enough but it comes with the danger of sending him too early if they lose two early wickets. Since Morgan is a more all-round batsman with his technique and not just a finisher, it's possible that the Knight Riders have decided to send him at No. 4, followed by Karthik and Russell, that still makes for a solid and power-packed middle order.
Why didn't Kings XI bowl Mujeeb in the powerplay?
It's clear that Mujeeb ur Rahman's strength in T20s is bowling in the powerplay, but on Saturday he bowled only after the first six overs. It's possible that Mujeeb was in Kings XI's initial powerplay plans but they made a change after seeing how Shami and Arshdeep tied the Knight Riders top order down. With some assistance on offer for the seam bowlers, Shami dismissed Tripathi and conceded only 12 in his first two which might have tempted Rahul to give him a third over and Shami bowled the sixth over too.
At the other end, Arshdeep sent down an impressive maiden to Tripathi and then conceded only two in his second over, as he and Shami were bowling just short of good length which was making it tough for the batsmen to score. The fifth over went to Chris Jordan, for just four, and the powerplay finished at only 25 for 2, but Mujeeb ended up bowling the 12th and 14th overs, especially taken apart by Morgan and Karthik to finish with 0 for 44.
It was only the sixth time in IPL that Mujeeb ended up bowling all his four overs after the powerplay and Kings XI will be wondering if those extra runs in the end cost them dearly.

Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo