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Talking Points: Why bowl Dale Steyn and Shivam Dube at the death?

What worked well for Kings XI Punjab, and where Royal Challengers Bangalore erred

Dustin Silgardo
Virat Kohli walks back for 1  •  BCCI

Virat Kohli walks back for 1  •  BCCI

Why did Kohli leave Steyn and Dube for the death overs?
With the Kings XI at 100 for 1 after 12 overs, Virat Kohli brought back Navdeep Saini for his third over. Saini had been easily RCB's best death bowler since the beginning of last season, going at 8.85 runs an over in the last four overs as compared to 12.52 for the rest of the team. So why not leave two overs for him for the death? At that stage, Kohli had used three overs of Yuzvendra Chahal and wanted to keep one back for Glenn Maxwell, whom Chahal had dismissed five times in eight previous meetings. Saini was the next most likely to get a wicket, so Kohli was, perhaps, looking to be aggressive.
That decision left Dale Steyn with two overs at the death, and Shivam Dube with at least one. Kohli had done something similar in the previous match - against the Sunrisers Hyderabad - and it had worked out well, as Dube managed to bowl three overs for just 15 runs and two wickets. But that was the first time Dube had ever bowled in the death in the IPL, so asking him to do it again was always going to be a gamble. Steyn, meanwhile, has not had great numbers at the death of late. The Kings XI played it smart by playing out Saini and Chahal and then looked to go big against Steyn and Dube at the end. However, had Kohli held on to his catches, his strategy may have worked out well.
Why was Philippe promoted ahead of Kohli?
Josh Philippe opened for the Sydney Sixers in the previous season of the Big Bash League and averaged 37.46, so the move was designed to get the best out of him, as Kohli said after the game. The idea was also to have him play a pinch-hitter's role and leave Kohli and AB de Villiers to finish the innings.
"He's batted at the top of the order for Western Australia. He's done well in the Big Bash as well," Kohli told the host broadcaster. "[It's still] early days in the tournament, so we thought we'll try and maximise his ability, and see how we go from there on because I know I can bat at [No.] 3 [if I need to], [and] we have a solid opening partnership.
"So we just thought chasing a big total tonight we'll give ourselves a bit more depth in the middle overs ... and Josh can go in and play a counterattacking knock, then AB and myself can really put pressure in the middle overs. But [it] just didn't come off."
That said, Philippe is not a particularly fast starter - he struck at 117.93 in the powerplay in the BBL, less than Kohli's 126.72 in the same period in the 2019 IPL. And, his early dismissal here meant Kohli came in with the team already in big trouble, and by the time de Villiers arrived, the game was all but gone.
The Royal Challengers seem to have too many batsmen in the XI best suited to playing in the top three. One way to fix this would be to play Moeen Ali for Philippe. They may even consider playing Kohli at the top - where he averages 48.72 in the IPL - and pushing Finch or Paddikal down one place.
"Chasing a big total tonight we'll give ourselves a bit more depth in the middle overs ... and Josh can go in and play a counterattacking knock, then AB and myself can really put pressure in the middle overs."
Virat Kohli explains the thinking behind promoting Josh Philippe
Why have the Kings XI being leaving out Gayle and Mujeeb?
Mujeeb-ur-Rahman finished the recent Caribbean Premier League season as the second-highest wicket-taker and Chris Gayle, well, is the Universe Boss. So why did the Kings XI leave out both? Gayle's declining strike rate recently may not have worked in his favour: since 2018, he strikes at 137.44, which falls short of Glenn Maxwell's 148.59 and Nicholas Pooran's 142.80 in the same period. Also, a settled opening pair of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal makes it further difficult for Gayle to sneak in.
The equation for Mujeeb, though, is slightly complicated. The Indian fast-bowling reserves for the Kings XI are a bit thin, with the young Ishan Porel the only option apart from Mohammed Shami. Hence, they have played two overseas seamers: Sheldon Cottrell in both matches, and Chris Jordan and Jimmy Neesham in one each. Against the Royal Challengers, they opted for two legspinners in Ravi Bishnoi and M Ashwin to target the right-handed pair of Kohli and de Villiers. K Gowtham was left out for a lower-order hitter, for which they picked Jimmy Neesham. It worked out well for the Kings XI though, as Ashwin dismissed de Villiers and the legspinners took a combined haul of 6 for 53 between them.
Where is Yadav going wrong?
Umesh Yadav has gone at 11.85 runs per over this season without having taken a wicket. Things weren't much better last season either, when he went at 9.80. Yadav's biggest issue seems to be bowling too many balls on the pads. Since the start of last season, he has bowled 37% of his balls on the stumps and 12% down the leg. As a result, he has been taken for runs on the leg side; more than 60% of the runs he has conceded this season have been scored square or behind square on the leg side. In the 2018 season, though - which has been Yadav's best IPL so far - he had bowled 59% of his deliveries outside off, a clear sign of his success.

Dustin Silgardo is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo