Talking Points: KL Rahul or bust for Kings XI

Top five reasons why Mumbai beat Punjab (2:08)

Jasprit Bumrah's death-overs prowess, Kieron Pollard's 23-ball 50 and other reasons why Mumbai Indians beat Kings XI Punjab (2:08)

Poor KL Rahul

With 20 runs required off 10 balls, KL Rahul tried to hit a full, wide ball for six over long-off. He miscued it and was out. While walking off, he held in his face in his hands and shouted at himself. Perhaps Rahul was angry that he tried to attack Bumrah, Mumbai Indians' most economical bowler. Perhaps he felt he should have waited for a better ball to hit. If that was the case, Rahul was being very hard on himself.

Through this IPL, no team has been more reliant on one batsman than Kings XI Punjab have been on Rahul. He has now scored a third of his team's total runs off the bat. Given that, he should have been the one trying to stay till the end while the batsmen around him attacked. But, during a crucial 16th over from Mayank Markande, Aaron Finch couldn't time the ball, so it was up to Rahul to attack the last two balls. He hit them both for sixes. Once Finch was out, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel should have gone big from ball one, but they consumed four balls for only two runs before Rahul took strike in the third ball of the 18th over. So Rahul had to go after Ben Cutting. He hit him for three consecutive fours. Now, surely, it was Axar's turn to take some of the pressure off. But again, in Bumrah's over, he managed just a single off the second ball. It was all up to Rahul. He had to go for the big shot.

How Mitchell McClenaghan's season turned around

After Mumbai's match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 1, Mitchell McClenaghan had a smart economy rate of 9.07 and cost his team 8.5 runs over six games. Since then, he's bowled in five innings and gone at a smart ER of 7.42, saving his team 9 runs. He's also picked up five wickets, many of them crucial. The key to McClenaghan's turnaround has been when he has bowled. Till May 1, he was regularly used as a death bowler. He had delivered four overs in the last four and had a smart ER of 17.95 in that phase. Since then, he has become a specialist Powerplay and middle-overs bowler and has been used for only two overs in the final four.

Why Rohit bowled out Hardik

In Mumbai's last four games, Hardik Pandya had been a regular death bowler. But against Kings XI, Rohit Sharma bowled him out before the 16th over, and in the end had to bowl Ben Cutting in the 18th and McClenaghan in the 20th. It was an attacking move from Rohit. He knew how dependent Kings XI were on their top three and wanted to dismiss them early. In the middle order, Kings XI had Marcus Stoinis, Yuvraj Singh and Manoj Tiwary, all of whom have struggled this season. So, Rohit was confident that his back-up bowlers could do the job against them in the death if Hardik, his top wicket-taker, could dismiss Rahul or Finch. He didn't, and having to bowl Cutting at the death almost cost Mumbai.

Why was Yuvraj not sent in earlier?

Yuvraj had been padded up since the fifth over of Kings XI's chase, but when the second wicket fell in the 17th over, it was Stoinis who came out. When he was dismissed off the fifth ball of the same over, Axar Patel walked in, and Yuvraj arrived at the crease with only nine balls left in the innings. There were several reasons for this decision.

First, Yuvraj has never been someone who can get going from ball one. This season, his strike rate off the first five balls he faces has been 77.77. Even over his entire T20 career, he scores at just 86.80 off his first five and 109.32 off his first ten. With 42 required off 23 balls, Kings XI couldn't have someone come in and get 11 off 10. Second, Yuvraj has been in woeful form this season, striking at less than 90. Third, he has particularly struggled against 140-kph bowlers, often bringing his bat down late when playing shots against them, and Kings XI knew Mumbai had two overs from Bumrah and one from McClenaghan to come.

Why didn't Ashwin bowl till the death?

While Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya blazed to a 65-run fifth-wicket stand, R Ashwin stood at mid-off looking tense. But his own figures at the time read 1-0-5-0. It seemed bizarre that Ashwin was not bowling, given Mumbai were four down and had left-hander Krunal and Pollard, who prefers pace to spin, at the wicket.

It turned out Ashwin was saving his overs for the death. Mohit Sharma had gone at 12.82 an over in the death before this game and had got hit for 25 in his first two overs, so Ashwin did not trust him to bowl two overs in the death. That meant he had to bowl from the other end while Andrew Tye bowled the 17th and 19th. Also, Ashwin may have been waiting for Ben Cutting to come in, so he could expose his weakness against spin.

Had Ashwin bowled earlier, Mumbai may have decided to milk him for singles and wait for Mohit, and possibly Marcus Stoinis, in the death. Still, with Mumbai gaining so much momentum in the middle overs, it is surprising Ashwin didn't give himself at least one in that period.

So then why didn't Ashwin bowl the 20th?

Having come on in the death, Ashwin bowled two overs for 13 runs and took two wickets. He was eligible to bowl another, but gave Mohit the 20th - another surprising decision. The only explanation is that he thought pace was a better option than spin to the No. 9 and 10 at the crease.

At the end of Mumbai's innings, Ashwin and Axar Patel had bowled just six overs between them for 42 runs, while the seamers, apart from Tye, had conceded 123 in 10. So Ashwin may be left ruing his bowling changes.