On a batting-friendly surface at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, Mumbai Indians won the toss and decided to continue the prevailing tournament trend of chasing. With the in-form Manan Vohra unwell, Kings XI Punjab bolstered their top-order by bringing in Shaun Marsh.
Riding on a sterling century from the ever reliable Hashim Amla as well as an ultra-aggressive cameo from skipper Glenn Maxwell, Kings XI cruised to a competitive total of 198 for the loss of just 4 wickets. However, Mumbai Indians responded by batting at an even better pace.
Powerful half-centuries from Jos Buttler and Nitish Rana ensured that they hunted down the target with ridiculous ease. With their 8-wicket triumph, Rohit Sharma’s team stormed back to the top of the table.
Here are five things that went wrong for Kings XI Punjab in this match.
#5 Wriddhiman Saha’s sluggish batting
With their supple wrists allowing them to manoeuvre the field placements, Marsh and Amla had given Kings XI a strong start. The former fell almost at the same time as the Powerplay came to an end. Having compiled 46 runs from nearly six overs, the need of the hour was to keep the momentum going.
As the likes of Eoin Morgan and David Miller had been inexplicably dropped, they did not have any dynamic batsmen for the middle-overs expect captain Maxwell.
Instead, Saha strode out to join Amla at the crease. Struggling to time the ball and find the boundary, the wicket-keeper batsman operated at a snail’s pace to allow Mumbai’s bowlers to sneak in a few quiet overs. He managed just 11 from 15 balls and the innings appeared to meander around the half-way mark.
#4 Glenn Maxwell‘s dismissal and the inadequate finish
Walking in at 80/2 during the 12th over, Maxwell breathed fresh life into the Kings XI’s innings with his typical belligerence. While Amla was motoring on at the other end, the Australian batsman batted without any inhibition.
In particular, his assault against Mitchell McClenghan yielded the second most expensive over of this IPL season thus far. As the final phase of the innings loomed, the stage was set for a grand finish.
However, Mumbai turned things around by prising out the key wicket of Maxwell in the 17th over. After Jasprit Bumrah outsmarted the attacking right-hander with a slower ball, Punjab came unstuck in the death overs. Despite having wickets in hand, they were able to score only 35 runs from the next 21 deliveries.
#3 Lack of proper bowling plans
Right from the outset, Mumbai’s opening duo of Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler remained intent on laying into Punjab’s bowling attack. Acknowledging that the chase required a fiery foundation, they showed no mercy to the seamers.
Kings XI’s seam attack comprising of Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma paid the price for erring in length. With the surface allowing no margin for error, the bowlers had to stick to their plans and stay away from the hitting zone. However, the three fast bowlers were lacklustre in their approach. Even as the openers carved away at the target, they appeared to be bereft of ideas.
#2 Not bringing spin in Powerplay overs
After watching Sandeep and Ishant concede as many as 51 runs from the first four overs of the innings, Maxwell could have immediately switched to spin. Most modern-day skippers have looked to take the pace off the ball and force the batsmen to take risks in the Powerplay overs.
In such a situation, Axar Patel’s stump-to-stump line could have gone a long way in arresting the early onslaught. Instead, Mohit Sharma was brought into the attack. While the right-arm seamer can minimize the damage in the death overs with his slower deliveries, his optimum speed and preferred line are right in the batsmen’s arc during the early stages. His first over yielded four boundaries for Mumbai Indians.
#1 Absence of a wrist-spinner
A look at all successful T20 teams across the globe can lead to a common denominator. Wrist-spinners have time and again proved to be the difference with their ability to pick up wickets.
From Rashid Khan for Sunrisers Hyderabad to Kuldeep Yadav for Kolkata Knight Riders and Samuel Badree for Royal Challengers Bangalore, most teams depend on their wrist-spinners to bring them back into the game.
On the other hand, Kings XI fielded two conventional left-arm spinners in this match. In place of Swapnil Singh, they could have retained KC Cariappa or brought in Rahul Tewatia to partner Axar Patel in the spin department. Possessing a leg-spinner in their attack could have brought them wickets during the middle-overs.