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Pooran, Kuldeep, his wrong'un, and its ripple effect

Kuldeep's wrong'un to dismiss Pooran for duck changed the course of an entire match

Sometimes, one ball can shape the course of an entire match. Kuldeep Yadav bowled such a ball on Friday night in Lucknow.
You've probably already watched it, so there isn't too much need for a description. It was a wrong'un landing on the perfect length to bowl Nicholas Pooran for a golden duck. If a batter isn't quite able to pick the wrong'un out of the bowler's hand, a ball on this sort of length is dynamite. Pooran pressed forward to defend, survival probably his only thought. Everything about the way he played the ball suggested he was guessing which way the ball would go. He guessed wrong.
It was a moment like a pebble dropped in a lake, sending ripples that reached every corner of this match between Lucknow Super Giants and Delhi Capitals.
Ripple 1: Axar continues to bowl from the end opposite Kuldeep's
Axar Patel had bowled the over before Kuldeep's introduction, but there's every chance he would have been taken out of the attack had Pooran survived his initiation. Most captains are reluctant to bowl left-arm orthodox spinners to left-hand batters as a rule, and it's almost unthinkable they'd bowl one to Pooran, who came into this game with this record against that style of bowling in the IPL: 127 runs off 66 balls, one dismissal.
Pooran is a little less certain against left-arm wristspinners, though, with 138 off 144 balls against them in all competitions (we're widening the net here because it's such a rare style of bowling) before this game, while being dismissed 10 times.
It's 11 times now, and the wrong'un through the gate was the fifth time Kuldeep had dismissed Pooran in 57 balls, while conceding just 52 runs.
Pooran needed to survive three balls of Kuldeep to force Capitals into a potentially tricky tactical decision. Surviving three balls isn't always straightforward when Kuldeep is the bowler.
Ripple 2: LSG are forced to change their Impact Player strategy
In two balls, Kuldeep had removed Marcus Stoinis and Pooran. LSG had slipped from 66 for 2 to 66 for 4, with 12.2 overs of their innings remaining. LSG still had Ayush Badoni and Krunal Pandya to come, but both are death-overs specialists. In all their matches for LSG, Krunal and Badoni have struck at below 115 in the middle (7th to 16th) overs, and at above 159 in the last four. LSG decided, then, to try and delay their entry, and made an early impact substitution to have Deepak Hooda walk in at No. 6.
It didn't work on the day, but there was some logic to the decision. Kuldeep's quick wickets had left LSG with the choice of trying to make up with either bat or ball, and they went for the former. There was some vindication in Badoni's efforts - he tonked 25 off 12 balls in the last three overs, when he cashed in on his preferred match-up of pace in the death overs, to finish on an unbeaten 55 of 35 - and his innings ensured LSG finished with 167.
We all know what they do when they post 160-plus totals.
Ripple 3: No Siddharth
While defending totals in IPL 2024, LSG have typically brought on M Siddharth as their impact substitute at the innings break, and given him the new ball. They couldn't do that here, though.
It left them a bowler short. It left them short of an important bowler at the start of their defence. Before today, Siddharth had bowled eight powerplay overs in IPL 2024 - the most by any LSG bowler in this phase - and gone at 7.75. Only Krunal, who had only bowled two overs in the phase, had been more economical.
Without Siddharth, LSG had to work out a new powerplay combination, which also included Arshad Khan, who was playing his first game of the season. LSG are excellent at defending totals, but this wasn't the typical LSG attack to begin with.
Ripple 4: Force LSG to bowl Stoinis or Krunal at Pant
LSG like to have a wide range of bowling options at their disposal - six usually, but often seven. It allows them to control match-ups effectively. Against this Capitals team, who have three left-hand batters (David Warner, Rishabh Pant and Axar) in their top seven, there's a chance they may have brought on the offspinner K Gowtham as their impact sub rather than Siddharth had they not needed to bring in Hooda so early.
That was moot now. Now they only had five frontline bowlers, unless you counted Stoinis who had only bowled one over in IPL 2024 before this game. This meant a lot less flexibility in dealing with tricky match-ups. Pant came to the crease at the start of the eighth over, and LSG had a choice to make over whether they would use Krunal's left-arm spin against him, or turn to Stoinis instead, and when they would do this.
Pant took his time early on, scoring eight off his first 10 balls. The target wasn't forcing him to go hard early, and he also knew LSG had this choice ahead of them.
LSG waited until the 12th over, by which time Pant had shifted gears, charging Ravi Bishnoi and hitting him for back-to-back fours. They went to Stoinis, and when Pant got on strike, he played one of those shots that only he can, a reverse-scoop of incredibly fast hands to deposit the ball over short third. He ended the over with another audacious hit, a falling swipe over short fine leg.
These two shots were worth the ticket price by themselves, but there was a moment earlier in the game that was worth even more. And they were all intricately connected. Without Kuldeep's wrong'un to Pooran, there may have been no Pant reverse-scoop off Stoinis.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo