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DC's blooming bowling options and KKR's moments of bad decisions

article_imageTALKING POINTS
Last updated on 10 Apr 2022 | 05:04 PM
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DC's blooming bowling options and KKR's moments of bad decisions

Significant talking points from Match 19 of IPL 2022 between Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders

Stick to Plan A

KKR were doing fine with their execution of Umesh Yadav. Their thought process looked clear: use him as an outright wicket-taking option with the new ball and in the middle-overs while keeping him away from the death overs. It is the optimum use of his skill set. He is not a death bowler after all. 

Among the 10 bowlers who have bowled over 100 overs during the death overs in IPL, Umesh has the second-highest economy of 10.4 runs per over. There has been no recent improvement either. Since 2018, he has now bowled 19 overs at the death, leaking runs at 13.4 per over. It is the highest among the 40 pacers who have bowled 16 death overs or more since 2018.

KKR were using Andre Russell in that role. He is a ‘blow hot blow cold’ bowler himself but has been the designated death bowler since the last season. 

A solid opening stand and DC’s onslaught during the middle-overs meant Umesh couldn’t be used in the established manner. He bowled two overs in the powerplay and wasn’t called back in the middle-overs. Andre Russell also had his two overs intact for the death overs’ phase. 

However, KKR fell into the trap of recalling Umesh, the death over bowler, only because he had overs remaining in his quota. They had to pay for it. Umesh bowled a handy 17th over, allowing only 5 runs and sending Warner back. In his last over, though, sixes flew all around the park. Umesh was hit for 23 runs by the duo of Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel. 

KKR had pulled things back but that 23-run over put Delhi back on course of a big first innings total. 

DC’s inexplicable batting order 

For the second game in a row, DC’s batting order has drawn eyeballs for the wrong reasons. In the last match, they promoted Rovman Powell to number three on a sticky wicket against a bowling attack loaded with spin options. He swapped positions with Sarfaraz Khan. 

DC did something similar today. While Rishabh Pant at three was a proactive decision, Sarfaraz Khan’s demotion halted them up to a degree. They sent Lalit Yadav and Powell at number four and five respectively. The pair added 9 runs between them from 10 deliveries, enabling KKR to put in a squeeze in the middle-overs. The argument is that Sarfaraz is a more capable player of spin bowling proficient in fluent strike-rotation, exactly the kind of company David Warner required at the other end.

In the end, things worked out well for DC as they reached a match-winning score. But it seems Sarfaraz is given the role of managing disaster if they ever lose an early wicket and are undergoing a collapse. Skipper Rishabh Pant confirmed the same after the 44-run win. “We wanted Sarfaraz to arrest the slide if we lose too many wickets and hence kept him back,” he said. 

It is also vital to note Delhi’s expectations from Powell. Twice, they have sent him with the opposition bowling their main spinners which is the weaker trait of Powell’s batting. There is nothing wrong with trying to maximize his returns. However, right now it appears wise to keep him to target the pacers in the last five overs. 

Blooming bowling options for DC

The mega-auction dynamics threw a severe punch on DC’s bowling arsenal. A pace attack of Mustafizur Rahman, Shardul Thakur and Khaleel Ahmed doesn’t contain the same firepower as that of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Avesh Khan bowling together. Yet, they have found new heroes with the ball this season. 

DC accumulated many pace bowling options, each brimming with potential. A couple of those options have blossomed nicely. The biggest positive has been the form of Khaleel Ahmed. The left-armer has seven wickets in three matches. Earlier known for being expensive, Khaleel has an outstanding economy of 7.2 runs per over, the best among all Indian pacers in the side. He has embraced both roles - taking wickets and keeping the runs in check. 

Mustafizur Rahman has gone wicketless twice but with an economy of 5.8, he has forged a valuable partnership with Khaleel. 

But the biggest deal breaker for DC has been Kuldeep Yadav. The left-arm wrist spinner has found his lost charm. He is the joint highest wicket-taker alongside Umesh Yadav, snaffling 10 wickets at 11.6 runs apiece. The economy sits at only 7.4 runs per over. To put things into perspective, he picked only five wickets across the last two editions. 

Most impressively, he has passed the test on the batting featherbed that Brabourne Stadium has offered this year. In the two matches at the venue, Kuldeep’s figures read 3/18 and 4/35. Like Khaleel, he has picked wickets and ceased the flow of runs. 

These pieces coming together for DC have produced efficient numbers without a similar look of domination. 

Put some thought during the toss 

IPL 2022 has followed the trend of teams opting to bowl first. None once a captain has opted to bat. It is quite understandable in night games where dew may or may not set in. In day games, however, teams are overdoing it by following the same. 

Simon Doull, in his pitch report before this match, stated the team that wins the toss should opt to bat first. It was a batting beauty after all and runs on the board are key when you are expecting a high-scoring game without dew. 

Shreyas Iyer, in the post-match presentation, accepted that the decision of bowling first didn’t work out for them. But Rishabh Pant’s admission that they would have opted to bowl first as well underlines the lack of thinking at the toss and the blatant following of a trend, as we see on social media these days.

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