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Talking Points - Did Shikhar Dhawan bat too conservatively?

Also, why did Axar Patel bowl only three overs?

Shikhar Dhawan looks to drive one  •  BCCI

Shikhar Dhawan looks to drive one  •  BCCI

Talking Points from the match between the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Capitals in Abu Dhabi.
Rishabh Pant was injured, but why did the Delhi Capitals leave out Shimron Hetmyer?
The Capitals only have two wicketkeepers in their squad, so Pant's absence meant Alex Carey necessarily had to play. That meant one of their four overseas players would have to drop out, and with Marcus Stoinis, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje un-droppables, the Capitals made the difficult decision to leave out Hetmyer despite him being the top-scorer with a 24-ball 45 in their previous game against the Rajasthan Royals.
Did Shikhar Dhawan bat too conservatively?
With Pant and Hetmyer out, Carey making his IPL debut, and with a bowling allrounder in Axar Patel slotted at No. 7, the Capitals may have been a little worried about their middle and lower order, which might have prompted Dhawan to bat with a little more caution, especially after two early wickets.
There's also a case to be made that Dhawan's low strike rates are a little different to those of, say, KL Rahul. Where Rahul, this season, seems to be playing within himself, Dhawan has a more limited range of shots and can therefore be contained by good bowling. The Mumbai Indians planned and executed excellently against him, diligently keeping the ball away from his strong zones.
But equally, the Mumbai Indians' innings showed what Dhawan could have done to counteract those plans. Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav, in particular, made great use of the crease, moving across their stumps or away from them in order to play with the bowlers' lines and target unguarded areas of the field. There was an example within the Capitals innings too, when Marcus Stoinis gave himself premeditated room to hit Trent Boult for a pair of boundaries either side of mid-off in the 16th over. Dhawan didn't do enough of this, and finished unbeaten on 69 off 52.
How did Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar keep the Capitals so quiet?
Iyer is a noted six-hitter against any kind of spin bowling. Dhawan is a left-hander and should theoretically thrive against left-arm spinners and legspinners. Krunal is a left-arm spinner, Chahar is a legspinner.
Krunal and Chahar bowled the bulk of their overs to these two batsmen and finished with combined figures of 2 for 53 in eight overs, conceding just three boundaries between them. How did they manage it?
This was partly down to the Capitals' cagey approach through the middle overs but also to some good bowling. Chahar - much like the Kings XI Punjab's Ravi Bishnoi against left-handers through this season - bowled from over the wicket to Dhawan and angled the ball across him and away from his natural hitting arc while mostly bowling wrong'uns and sliders. To Iyer, he bowled quickly and slightly short of length, making it hard for him to go over the top - especially with the long boundaries in Abu Dhabi - or step out.
Krunal bowled back of a length and into the stumps, and occasionally fired one in really full against Dhawan.
When Iyer finally decided to go big in the 15th over, he made a bright start, slicing Krunal for a four over point. But the left-armer went back to shorter lengths and straighter lines for the rest of the over, and Iyer couldn't pull off the big hit. After hitting a one-bounce single to long-on, Iyer tried to go aerial again when he came back on strike, and holed out to deep midwicket.
Why did Axar Patel bowl only three overs?
Axar has been one of the Capitals' most valuable players this season - his economy rate before this match was 4.50 - and he bowled two excellent overs in the powerplay, conceding just 12 runs and picking up the wicket of Rohit Sharma. He didn't bowl too badly when he came back for the 13th over, despite conceding 12 runs - one of the two boundaries in the over came via a misfield from Prithvi Shaw in the deep. So why didn't he bowl another over?
Axar could have bowled the 15th over too, but with the Mumbai Indians needing only 47 from 36 at that stage with eight wickets in hand, the Capitals brought back Kagiso Rabada, probably to try and dismiss either Yadav or Ishan Kishan, both of whom are better players of spin than pace.
Rabada went for 14 but sent back Yadav. The Capitals stuck with the medium pace of Marcus Stoinis for the next over, and he did well to get the wicket of the dangerous Hardik Pandya with a cross-seam delivery. With only four overs left thereafter, the Capitals went with the tried-and-tested route of their two best bowlers - Nortje and Rabada - finishing off their quotas in the 17th, 18th and 19th, leaving the 20th for either Axar or Stoinis or Harshal Patel. Stoinis has done the job before this season, so it was he who took the ball with the Mumbai Indians needing seven off six balls.
Did the Capitals use their fielders in the right positions?
Shaw isn't the fleetest of fielders, and the Capitals seemed to station him in the so-called "hot zones" at two crucial junctures late in the game. In the 18th over, he was at deep square leg where Kishan's pull just about cleared him and went over the rope. Shaw was at full stretch, and a taller fielder might have pulled off the catch.
In the final over, with three runs required off five balls, Krunal knocked the ball just behind square on the off side and set off for a quick single. Kieron Pollard didn't want the run initially, and a quicker fielder might have swooped on the ball from backward point and made him pay for the indecision. Shaw, despite going towards his natural right side, failed to make a clean pick-up, and let Pollard off the hook.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo