Knight Riders' tactics not good enough
Old favourites out of fashion
Kolkata Knight Riders dropped Yusuf Pathan and Mumbai Indians continued to leave out Harbhajan Singh for a knockout game. A few years ago, the thought of dropping them would have been preposterous.
In the absence of Andre Russell, Yusuf was expected to play a bigger role in finishing matches but he has blown more cold than hot. Knight Riders made a statement that no one was indispensable.
Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, chose Karn Sharma over Harbhajan for a different reason. This season, Harbhajan has bowled in the Powerplay and has been extremely economical. He has been stingy even outside the Powerplay and so his case is a little more curious. Because Lasith Malinga has been below par and the Pandya brothers are not really wicket-takers, Mumbai might have traded Harbhajan's economy for Karn's wicket-taking ability.
Narine out of his depth
Sunil Narine has done exceedingly well as an opener on two occasions this IPL, and both times it was against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Against better bowling units, he has struggled. So it was interesting that KKR chose to open with him because Mumbai's bowling is among the best in the IPL and the pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium demanded caution in the first six overs. While the chances of Narine succeeding were slim, the absence of Manish Pandey and Yusuf in the middle order might have prompted Knight Riders to take the risk to lengthen the batting order.
Malinga gets the easy job
Malinga isn't the force he once was and his role has changed, but Mumbai stuck with him for the playoffs. He did not complete his quota of four overs despite bowling well in the last game against Rising Pune Supergiant, and against Knight Riders, Rohit brought him on for the relatively easier overs. He bowled the fourth over, when the scoreboard said 13 for 1, then the 10th over at 39 for 5, the 14th over at 71 for 5, and the 19th over once nine wickets were down. Are we witnessing the end of another IPL legend?
Not opening with the best
If you are defending 107, it a 13-14 over game and your best bowlers must open. The idea is to ensure your best bowlers don't have overs left when the game is over. Though Umesh Yadav and Piyush Chawla got a wicket each in the first three overs, Narine and Nathan Coulter-Nile were KKR's best options.
The importance of Krunal Pandya
A T20 team should ideally have six bowling and seven batting options. Whenever Krunal Pandya is available and playing, Mumbai find that balance. He is a capable middle-overs bowler and a two-gear batsman. He has shown the temperament to bat responsibly when needed, and the hitting prowess to go aerial successfully in the latter half of an innings. When he hasn't played, because of injury, Mumbai end up a bowler or a batsman short.
Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash