Match Analysis

Talking Points - where did the power in Sunrisers' play go?

David Warner & Co took the scoreboard only as far as 27 for 1 in the Powerplay, but the Australian champion structured a wonderful innings by the end of it

At the end of Sunrisers' Powerplay, David Warner was on 9 off 17, and Jonny Bairstow had been dismissed for 1. There was no collapse, but Sunrisers Hyderabad got off to their slowest start in this season's IPL, by a distance.
Here's the sequence that led to it.
  • Kings XI won a good toss on a dewy night in Mohali, and picked Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Ankit Rajpoot in place of Murugan Ashwin and Andrew Tye based on the "opposition and the conditions", in the words of captain R Ashwin.
  • Ashwin used Mujeeb as a wicket-taking option against Bairstow, who has now been dismissed six times out of six in the IPL to wristspinners and mystery spinners, and held him back for later after that.
  • Ashwin, who has bowled in the Powerplay in four of their five games before this one, held himself back for the middle overs, where he has been most successful. Bairstow's early dismissal and the discipline from his pace bowlers only made that decision easier.
  • Rajpoot mixed up his cutters and hit the deck early on, as was Ashwin's plan, while Mohammed Shami refused to offer an inch to Warner outside his stumps, a plan that had worked for Kagiso Rabada earlier in the tournament against Warner. The quicks' preferred channel of attack to Warner (7 runs in 10 balls) was the short one going across the batsman, just outside off, not too wide, and cramping him for room.
  • Plan A falling into place, Kings XI didn't need to bring in their swing-bowling option Sam Curran until the ninth over.
All of which meant there was added pressure on Warner to go the distance, with an off-colour middle order to follow.
Warner, playing according to the team's needs
After that slow start, Warner had to bat through, there was no option for him.
So far this IPL, he has attacked the bowlers early on, played second fiddle to Jonny Bairstow when needed, and on Monday night, with Bairstow gone early on a tricky pitch, he ensured he stayed till the very end.
Warner's innings was a pundit's delight, a classic example of playing according to the situation.
In that sense, Warner's situation was similar to that of Virat Kohli against Delhi Capitals on Sunday - the team's best batsman starting slow and having to carry them all the way through, bat deep and launch a late attack. Kohli fell going for one too many big hits against Rabada. Warner, on the other hand, was prepared to do the hard yards when the boundaries dried up.
He had just one four by the end of the 10th over, and on a big ground, picked gaps and hared across for as many as ten twos, an underrated feature of his batting - his team-mates, put together, had only seven. It was his slowest IPL fifty - off 49 balls - but Sunrisers would have been relieved that he stayed on.
With the middle order not delivering once again, Warner's knock was a lesson in not getting bogged down, a man in form backing himself to go deep in the innings and finding ways to score runs when most of his usual routes had been blocked. His first 31 balls fetched him 21 runs. In the next 31 balls, he hit 49. He was at his speediest in the last 23 balls of his innings, when he scored 37 runs.
An inspired call to throw Rashid in against Gayle?
Rashid Khan has dominant head-to-head records against most T20 batsmen going around, but Chris Gayle isn't one of them. Gayle strikes at nearly 180 against Rashid, and had been dismissed by the spinner just twice in seven innings before Monday.
Most tellingly, he had pasted Rashid for 42 off 16 balls the last time the two had faced off in Mohali: Gayle made a match-winning 104 in that game. Given these, and the fact that Mohammad Nabi has done the job in the Powerplay in earlier games, Bhuvneshwar Kumar's move to get Rashid in for the fourth over was an inspired one in many ways.
First ball, Gayle clobbered one flat down the ground, which would have fallen some distance short of the boundary, but a diving Deepak Hooda snaffled a fantastic catch at long-on. Rashid rarely bowls inside the first four - this was only his third time in IPLs - and for the second time this tournament, he struck gold for his side. The previous instance was against Rajasthan Royals, another side that is heavily dependent on the openers, where he got rid of Jos Buttler second ball.
Can Sunrisers' fielders stop dropping catches off Bhuvneshwar, please?
Kings XI needed 37 off 27 with nine wickets in hand, when Agarwal presented a rare chance. A short one from Bhuvneshwar, that was sent soaring into the Mohali sky, landed in Yusuf Pathan's palms. Only, an off-balance Yusuf couldn't latch on to the simplest of chances.
Agarwal added 13 more runs to his total, a number that will haunt Sunrisers given how Kings XI suffered a mini-collapse in the end to add some drama to the game.
Yusuf is not the first fielder to fluff a chance off Bhuvneshwar this season: Nabi, Rashid, Sandeep Sharma and Kaul have all put down catches off him. Together, these drops have cost Sunrisers 61 runs, and potentially the match against Mumbai Indians, when they could have had Kieron Pollard for 5. And who knows how things would have shaped up had Yusuf held on here?
Bhuvneshwar has endured a difficult start to the season, and as per Luck Index, is the third unluckiest bowler in the tournament so far.

Srinath Sripath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo