IPL 2022: Why Punjab's new batting template suits them? Were Mumbai a batter short? Burning questions from MI-PBKS clash

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IPL 2022: Why Punjab’s new batting template suits them? Were Mumbai a batter short? Burning questions from MI-PBKS clash
© Provided by Firstpost IPL 2022: Why Punjab’s new batting template suits them? Were Mumbai a batter short? Burning questions from MI-PBKS clash

Mumbai Indians suffered their fifth successive defeat in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 with a 12-run loss to Punjab Kings on Wednesday. Despite a valiant attempt at chasing down a target of 199, Mumbai struggled to sustain the momentum they built in each phase with the loss of wickets and a lop-sided line-up and ended up on the losing side again. Here are a few burning questions from the game.

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Why this is Punjab Kings’ best batting template?

Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal put on 65 runs in the powerplay and then finished with an opening stand of 97 in 57 deliveries. Even after Mayank was dismissed after his maiden fifty in the season, Dhawan batted on until the 17th over. While the opener scoring just 20 runs off his last 14 balls is questionable, one of the top three batters batting deep might just be Punjab’s best mantra this IPL.

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Despite a team full of hitters, Punjab have the lowest strike-rate (140.59) and average (18.93) after the powerplay overs in IPL 2022. The strike-rate crossed 140 in the post-powerplay phase this game with the team showing an improved performance. Among batters to bat from No 4 to No 7, Punjab Kings have the second-worst average after Mumbai Indians (MI) this year. Given all of that, Punjab’s best bet is to have one of Dhawan, Mayank, or Jonny Bairstow bat deep enough to give the other hitters license to just play their natural game.

Why holding back Jasprit Bumrah is doing Mumbai Indians no good

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In a game that saw scores near 200, Jasprit Bumrah had the lowest economy rate (7.00) and made his mark despite a first over that leaked 13 runs. Mumbai Indians did not start with Bumrah upfront despite his excellent record against Mayank Agarwal in the IPL — prior to this game, Bumrah had dismissed Mayank three times in 14 deliveries. Dhawan too hasn’t scored at a great rate against Bumrah.

Given the matchup, it was surprising to see Bumrah not take the new ball and then not brought back into the attack despite the partnership growing in stature. After bowling the third over, Bumrah only came back after the opening stand was broken and delivered a seven-run over. With Mumbai Indians needing wickets to break Punjab’s momentum, it was surprising to see Bumrah being held back, especially when his powerplay and middle overs record is incredible for a pace bowler.

Bumrah gave just 12 runs in his last two overs and restricted Punjab Kings to a total less than 200.

Why Jitesh Sharma is turning out to be one of the best buys of the season?

It isn’t often that a local finisher becomes available at the auction without a huge hype around him. Jitesh Sharma had done the hard yards in domestic cricket and identified that to cut it to the big leagues, he had to reduce the competition and play a role few other Indian batters did. He went from an opener to a middle-order batter and the returns were exciting.

In 2022, he finished the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with the most sixes by any batter (18) and struck at a rate of 235 with the bat. That form carried over to the IPL with Jitesh playing three outrageous cameos: 23 (11) v Gujarat Titans, 26 (17) v Chennai Super Kings and an unbeaten 30 (15) v MI. Walking in after the 10th over, Jitesh has impressed with his range and game awareness this season so far.

Sold for his base price, Jitesh is turning out to be a brilliant buy for Punjab Kings. Even with the likes of Odean Smith and Shahrukh Khan in the Punjab line-up, it is Jitesh who has stood out with a strike-rate of 183.72 in the season so far.

Did Mumbai Indians miss an extra batter?

With Jaydev Unadkat at No 7 and Basil Thampi at No 8, Mumbai Indians struggled with their batting depth on Wednesday as Suryakumar Yadav, not for the first time this season, carried them through the final few overs. That Mumbai’s batting has been shoddy further makes it bizarre that they went bowling heavy. Kieron Pollard has struggled for form, averaging 14.25 after five innings, and Mumbai have chosen to bench Tim David, whose numbers in other leagues in recent times have been incredible.

The entire lower middle-order and lower order have struggled for Mumbai and this is reflected from the combined batting average of players from No 5 to No 11 — a meagre 8.50, easily the worst among all teams in the IPL. That they have an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old in the top four further makes this stat a bizarre one. With this in mind, it was odd that Mumbai Indians chose to go with just six batters. The lack of an extra batter hurt them as Pollard struggled and Suryakumar Yadav was left short of reliable partners and holed out.

Mumbai went in with three overseas players when they had Fabian Allen and Tim David on the bench. Even if they thought David wasn’t fitting their plans after the two games, which by itself doesn’t quite make sense given the amount they paid for him, Allen was a great fit for this game with him turning the ball away from right-handers and PBKS having no left-handers in their middle-order. Allen also adds batting firepower in the death and could have been more than handy last night.

Is Odean Smith as the fifth bowler a sustainable plan?

Punjab Kings have two terrific seamers in Kagiso Rabada and Arshdeep Singh, and a promising youngster in Vaibhav Arora. That’s three of the five bowling slots filled with bowlers who can fill in during the powerplay and death overs. Rahul Chahar, save for that one odd over against Dewald Brevis, has been impressive in the IPL this year. But Odean as the fifth bowler has conceded runs at a rate of 12.14 in 14 overs, the second-worst for any bowler to bowl 10 or more overs this year.

Against Mumbai, he picked up a four-wicket haul, but three of those came in the final over when the Mumbai tailenders were looking to slog their way to the target. Liam Livingstone bowled the one over Odean couldn’t complete, and cost them 11 runs. In short, Punjab Kings have struggled with their fifth bowler and it has cost them at least one game.

They have benched Bhanuka Rajapaksa for Odean and Bairstow to play in the XI in the last couple of games despite the Sri Lankan’s good form, but now it’s difficult to bring him back in because that would lead to a double change with Bhanuka not being able to contribute with the ball. Someone like Rishi Dhawan would then have to come in, but there’s no batter you can bench from in that line-up.

For now, Punjab Kings will be forced to continue with the same plan and hope Odean does not cost them too much. But they might want to turn their attention to Benny Howell, whose bowling stocks have gone up immensely if Odean’s bowling returns continue to flounder big-time.

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