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Match Analysis

How Lucknow Super Giants' trump card Mohsin Khan outfoxed Rishabh Pant

The 23-year-old left-arm quick bests Capitals' captain with a clever change in length

Nagraj Gollapudi
In just four deliveries on Sunday, Mohsin Khan created the turning point which paved the way for Lucknow Super Giants disrupting Delhi Capitals' surge towards their target of 196. In those four deliveries, which unfolded in the 13th over of the Capitals innings, Mohsin bowled with intellect and showed why he has been one of the stories of this IPL.
Capitals needed 83 runs from 48 balls when Mohsin returned to the attack. Rishabh Pant was on strike. At the other end was Rovman Powell. Two of the hardest hitters of the ball. Pant had started mercilessly attacking all bowlers: he had raced to a 9-ball 27 to help Capitals recover from 13 for 2 after three overs to 66 for 2 at the end of the powerplay. Powell, too, had started aggressively, scoring an 11-ball 22.
When Mohsin was recalled for the one-over second spell, he also had to factor in the shorter boundary, which was to Pant's off side and the leg side for Powell. Pant had already used the short boundary to cut ruthlessly while Powell has shown this IPL that no boundary is too long for his power-hitting. Mohsin could not afford any margin for error.
The four deliveries we are talking about were all to Pant. The first ball was pitched short of length, on the fourth-stump line, which Pant tried to pull but missed. The next ball was on length, slower, but wider of off stump and called wide. Next ball Mohsin once again banged on the hard length, sticking to a similar wide line. It was a dot ball again. Pant was getting impatient. He had been charging at the bowlers but failed to find the boundary, which was the only thing he wanted to deal in, despite the inherent risk involved. His dot-ball percentage increased. Mohsin grasped that quickly. The next delivery, too, was just short of length, on the off stump which Pant picked a single off. Against Powell, Mohsin attempted a short-pitched delivery, but the ball did not rise above the hips, allowing the Capitals' batter to pull an easy four. Two balls later, Pant was back on strike.
Expecting another length ball Pant skipped out of the crease. His intention might have been to slog over the midwicket. Except Mohsin had a totally different plan to the first part of the over. Mohsin pushed the length fuller. And pushed the accelerator to nearly 145kph on that delivery, the last ball of the over. As Pant charged out, the ball seamed in upon pitching and rushed through to break the stumps. An embarrassed Pant jogged past Mohsin, who was on his follow through, back to the Capitals dugout.
Pant had played out just two dots in the powerplay. But in the middle overs, where he played 21 balls, he managed to score just 17 runs ,including 11 dots. Mohsin, thus knew, that he had the advantage to impose the pressure on Pant and dry up the runs. One key factor to do was to cut down on the speed, forcing to batter to go hard instead. And if he was successful in doing that, then he could go for the kill. He did that exactly by improvising his lengths and then surprising Pant. Mohsin later revealed that the plan to pitch the ball fuller to Pant was suggested by Super Giants' captain KL Rahul. Pant was one of the four wickets Mohsin took, but he said the Capitals' captain was his favorite wicket only because of the "set-up".
This is the second match in a row where Mohsin has picked up the big opposition wicket. If it was Pant on Sunday, Mohsin had outfoxed Liam Livingstone in the previous match against Punjab Kings.
Rahul explained why Mohsin is a dangerous bowler. "[I] played him in the nets for the first time a month ago. Didn't want to face him," Rahul said during the post-match briefing with the host broadcaster. "Seriously. He was sharp. He is scary at times in nets. It's not just the pace. He has good brains, has a bit of skill as well. Has a great slower one and knows when to use it. Eager to learn. Eager to play. He has been a confident guy even under pressure. He has bowled some really big overs for us."
By choice and instinct, Mohsin said he is a pure fast bowler. But he is also becoming a good listener.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo