Match 37 of IPL 2021, SRH vs PBKS, will be the second game of Saturday. It has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster event, with both teams looking to escape from the bottom half of the table.
Punjab Kings have seen themselves on the wrong side of the result from situations where it takes a lot of effort to mess things up. One such instance was their last game against the Rajasthan Royals where they failed to score 8 runs in the last 2 overs with 8 wickets in hand. Punjab would not be thinking of it as a one-off situation anymore. They would be up and running if they get their team selections right. At the moment Punjab certainly look like a team in disarray with only KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal being their saviors.
PBKS batsmen not finishing the game wasn’t the only thing that led to them losing the game. Blunders in the second innings often tend to shadow the mistakes that took place in the first innings. Rahul and Mayank made the chase look achievable. In retrospection, they could have thought of whether having an experienced batter in Gayle could have saved their day. Another thing that could be on the back of their mind is whether they conceded just too many than they should have in the first innings.
Punjab Kings handed their new overseas recruit and England’s lead spinner, Adil Rashid, his debut in the game against Rajasthan Royals. 3 overs none for 35 is not the kind of figures you would expect from a regular international spinner. Rajasthan Royals batters ran riot in the middle overs scoring 107 runs, with Rashid and Hooda sharing 72 runs among them in the 30 balls that they bowled. If Shami and Arshdeep had not pulled them back into the game with their brilliance at the death, PBKS would have been in a worse state chasing a target that would have been out of their reach.
It is imperative that Punjab give their spin combination a thought. While Harpreet Brar has sealed his spot, PBKS now need a spinner who they can trust to bowl 4 economical overs. In the game against SRH, PBKS would prefer a leg spinner if they go by the numbers presented in the table below. SRH batters apart from Warner seem to struggle to get going against right-arm leg-spinners. While Kane has shown resistance by not getting out, his efficacy hugely depends on how the other batters bat around him. Adil Rashid might have had a one-off game and Bishnoi might not be a better bowler than Adil. But looking at how IPL teams go about their construction, when an Indian spinner can offer what an overseas spinner can, it is better to play the Indian since it gives them leeway on picking the rest of their overseas players.
A glimpse of Bishnoi would tell you how valuable he can be to your side. Young, electric, and highly skillful in his primary role, Bishnoi can offer a lot of balance to this Punjab side and can provide them with a cushion to play an extra overseas batter or a pacer in place of an overseas spinner. However, Punjab doesn’t seem to realize any of these. From a young lad fast-tracked from the Under19 setup, you would expect that they would take their time to get used to the environment and you would look at them as a prospect for the future. But it is not the case with Bishnoi. Punjab, have not bought a raw material intending to refine it. They rather have shipped a finished product.
You are special if you can thrive under pressure and perform against the likes of David Warner, Rishabh Pant, and Eoin Morgan. The praise so far might appear to be of something that has met the eye. But that is not all. Bishnoi has some numbers to back him. Numbers that project why he should make the PBKS side and why he must feature in the encounter against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. As said earlier, playing Bishnoi in place of Adil Rashid would give them a cushion on their other overseas picks. The other reason is how the SRH batters have fared against the right-arm leg-spin. The most important of all is how Bishnoi has fared against SRH’s premium batter David Warner.
A leg spinner bowling to a left-handed batter is always considered to be an unfavorable matchup given that left-handers find it comfortable to hit balls that turn into them. Add to it bowling to a batter like David Warner, who has struck at a rate of 147 against right-arm leg-spin since IPL 2020, it becomes even more challenging. Surprisingly, David Warner is one batter Ravi Bishnoi has enjoyed bowling to. He has bowled 4 balls to him conceding 5 runs while dismissing him twice. That is a phenomenal record to have against a batsman who has the ability to snatch the victory away from any opponent when given a chance.
It might come as a surprise to many that Bishnoi, who is just finding his feet at the IPL level is able to crack David Warner. What makes him successful? Before trying to understand what makes him successful against Warner, let us put ourselves into the shoes of a leg spinner. I take the ball, I start my run-up knowing that I am an unfavorable match-up bowling at a batsman who scores at close to 9 runs an over. My top priority at this moment is not going to be restricting Warner. I would rather want to get rid of him quickly so that I don’t get to bowl more at him.
At this moment, I analyze what is something that I can do so that I get to see the back of Warner. Data says Warner might not struggle against the googly but that’s the best weapon to get him out. Since IPL 2020, Warner has faced 39 googlies scoring 62 runs. Might look like you are going to get thwacked if you bowl the googly. But here is the catch. Warner has got out 5 times facing 39 googlies, which makes him average a meager 12.5 against this type of delivery. Having cracked how you bowl at David Warner, we come back to Ravi Bishnoi. Again the same question. What makes him successful against Warner?
Bishnoi has bowled just 402 balls in this league. When we analyze what has been his go-to weapon. we can see from the graph below, that he has bowled 197 googlies, which accounts for a massive 49 percent of his deliveries. Bishnoi does bowl a lot of googlies. But how well does he do it? Bishnoi has shown immense control bowling the googly. He concedes at a paltry rate of 5.91 runs per over while having a dot ball percentage of 48 bowling the googly. He has also induced a false shot 29 percent of the time. It doesn’t end here. Out of the 16 wickets that he has picked up so far in the IPL, 12 have been of a googly. By now, it would have been evident as to how and why Bishnoi has fared well against David Warner and why it is important to make sure that Bishnoi starts in the XI against SRH.
Bishnoi making it to the XI ahead of Adil Rashid gives the management a chance to alter their overseas combination. They can either look to play an overseas pacer in place of Porel or they can bring in their veteran batsman Chris Gayle and the latter seems to be a plausible option. If Punjab prefer to play an overseas pacer they can drop Markram for Gayle or else they can drop Hooda for Gayle if they prefer to give Porel a long run. Either way, it is imperative that Punjab try and fit Gayle in their XI especially in the game against SRH. Rashid Khan is the biggest threat that SRH can offer when they meet PBKS and there is no better combination than Gayle and Pooran to overcome this threat.
KL Rahul has been the pillar of the batting lineup so far. Looking at his matchup against Rashid Khan, there rises a bit of skepticism on whether he would be able to take the team through like he usually does. He has got out to Khan thrice facing 30 deliveries bowled at him having scored only 18 runs. Agarwal on the other hand also seems to be defensive against Rashid playing at a strike rate of 100 having got out once in the 23 balls that he has faced. This record suggests that they need a bankable player to follow and there is none better than Gayle in this regard.
Gayle has scored at a rate of 138.96 against leg spinners since IPL 2020 at an average of 26.75. Gayle has a favorable matchup against Rashid Khan where he has scored 52 runs in 29 balls having got out twice. A leg spinner’s lethal weapon, the googly also doesn’t seem to trouble Gayle much. Since 2020 Gayle has made 51 runs in the 31 googlies that he has faced without being dismissed even once. Pooran on the other hand has been lethal against leg spinners averaging 52 and scoring at a rate of 173.33. Pooran like Gayle has loved facing the googlies. Since 2020, he averages 56 and strikes at 186.67 having faced 30 googlies. If the Gayle-Pooran combo can neutralize the Rashid threat, PBKS can heave a sigh of relief.
PBKS when they encounter SRH, the focus should lie on the two of their biggest threats, David Warner and Rashid Khan. PBKS need to make some tactical changes as stated in order to counter them and emerge on the victorious side.
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