If Mumbai Indians' slump in the death overs was the talking point heading into the final innings, Kolkata Knight Riders, who were at a comfortable position of 31 off 30 to chase with Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell remaining, slumped lower, losing three wickets for 21 in the last five overs to fall 10 runs short of the target. Mumbai Indians hence extended their supremacy over KKR, winning for the 10th time in the last 11 encounters and consolidating their lead to 22-6 in the head-to-head tie.
Spinning through the PowerPlay
Pat Cummins was the first pacer to be introduced into the KKR bowling attack, coming in the sixth over. All five overs since the start of the game were delivered by the spinners - Harbhajan Singh, Varun Chakravarthy and Shakib Al Hasan - with the veteran Indian bowling two overs. According to CricViz, 12 times have IPL witnessed spinners occupying the first three overs of the game, five of those games were where the variety continued until the fifth over. Tuesday was the sixth instance of the first 24 balls being bowled by spinners.
However, Mumbai Indians pulled off 37 runs in the first four overs which included three boundaries off Harbhajan by Suryakumar Yadav. Quinton de Kock was the only victim, falling to Varun Chakravarthy in the second over. Mumbai's PowerPlay score was 42 for one, only a run more than what they had scored against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opener.
Mumbai's slump in the death overs
Mumbai Indians were the best team in the death overs last season, with a colossal scoring rate of 12.74 and a boundary every 3.2 balls. The Pandya brothers along with Kieron Pollard played a major role in Mumbai's daunting death-over numbers with the veteran and Hardik having a strike rate of over 220 in the death overs while Krunal operated at a strike rate of 176.
Two games into IPL 2021 and Mumbai's scoring rate in the death stands 7.12 - 24/5 against RCB and 33/6 against KKR - with a boundary rate of six. Krunal and Pollard batted in the death in both the matches, scoring 22 off 16 and 8 off 13 respectively while being dismissed on both occasions. Hardik scored 4 off 2 balls and was dismissed once.
The trio has also been kept quiet in both the matches, scoring 62 off 60 between themselves with a combined boundary rate of 6 which doesn't include a single six.
Is Russell KKR's death over specialist?
Russell was introduced in the game in the 18th over where he picked the wicket of Kieron Pollard and Marco Jansen. He returned for the final over to dismiss Krunal Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah in successive deliveries before completing his maiden five-wicket haul in the final delivery with the dismissal of Rahul Chahar. In a space of 12 balls, Russell picked five wickets for just 15 runs which included two boundaries.
In the previous game this season, Russell was brought back in the 18th over, after being introduced 10 overs earlier. He conceded 16 runs while picking one wicket to deny SRH of a late comeback.
Since IPL 2020, he has bowled 23 overs in nine appearances, 14 of them were in the death overs, and on six occasions he bowled twice in that phase. He has picked 11 wickets in the death with an economy rate of 10.14 and a strike rate of 7.6, fourth-best during the period among bowlers who have at least delivered 40 balls in the death.
Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya's commendable spell
Heading into the game, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, in an exclusive conversation with India TV Cricket, pointed out that Mumbai's spin attack has been their weak link, with the other seven teams having a far better attacking comprising this variety.
Although at a cautious rate, KKR looked patient in their batting approach, scoring 62 runs without a loss until the end of the eighth over, before Chahar was introduced. He picked the wicket of Shubman Gill in his first over, Rahul Tripathi in the second Eoin Morgan in the third and the dangerous Nitish Rana in his final over to finish with his best figures in IPL of 4 for 27.
KKR were still in the game with 31 required off the final five overs as Dinesh Karthik walked in. Rohit Sharma brought back Krunal and he dismissed Shakib Al Hasan in the second ball, but the delivery has cleverly bowled. He released it well behind the crease while being close to the stumps, leaving Shakib puzzled as he pulled off an ugly sweep shot to hole out.
In walked Andre Russell next and Mumbai deployed an aggressive fielding setup with silly point and slip in place. Krunal leaked only a single in his over where Russell faced three balls, all dot. Krunal returned an over later to concede just three more singles and three more dots off Russell, one of which included a huge miscued shot that Bumrah spilled at mid-wicket. Nevertheless, Krunal's brilliance helped MI keep the equation at 19 off 12. Trent Boult eventually wrapped up the game for Mumbai with a mix of slower and yorker deliveries to keep KKR 10 runs short of the target.