It seldom happens that Rohit Sharma shows his skills in back-to-back matches. But the Mumbai batsman, taking confidence from his previous innings (74*), made another important contribution for his side, helping his side register a 41-run win over Pune Warriors at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
Sharma (62 off 32) used the launch pad set by Dinesh Karthik (41 off 29) perfectly and took the side to a massive total, along with Kieron Pollard (19 off 14). Although Sharma used the latter overs to full effect, it was Karthik who once again provided the Mumbai innings the much-needed impetus.
Chasing a mammoth 184 to win, Pune got off to the worst possible start, losing three wickets for 13 runs. Mitchell Johnson was the wrecker in chief, getting Aaron Finch off the first ball of the innings and then cleaning up Robin Uthappa (7 off 9) with another inswinging delivery.
Ross Taylor (4 off 5) was unlucky to get run out. Tirumalasetti Suman (23 off 15) played some attacking strokes but departed in order to increase the scoring rate. Yuvraj Singh too looked extremely fluent for his 15-ball 23 before he was caught by Rishi Dhawan off Pollard. Mitchell Marsh, with his 26-ball 38, tried his best to take his side closer to Mumbai's total, but it was not enough to take it over the line.
Only a few batsmen can match the form that Karthik is in at present, and he displayed that again on Saturday. Mumbai lost the wickets of Ricky Ponting (14) and Sachin Tendulkar (44) in quick succession, but Karthik, with his smooth timing, kept the scoring rate up.
Having a torrid time since they started opening together, Ponting and Tendulkar gave Mumbai a solid start (54) this time. While Ponting was still subdued in his approach, Tendulkar was determined to make up for early his earlier failures. He took a special liking to Ashok Dinda - who was the costliest bowler from both sides, giving 63 in his four overs - hitting the medium-pacer for four boundaries in one over. He was also a bit lucky when Yuvraj, standing at mid-on, misjudged a chance, and he made Pune pay, launching Rahul Sharma over deep midwicket for a big six.
Tendulkar, however, perished when he tried to go for back-to-back boundaries against part-time spinner Aaron Finch. Karthik then took the charge, hitting his first boundary behind square leg. He continued his fabulous touch, four boundaries and one six, before Mitchell Marsh trapped him leg before.
But by the time he left, the team had already got the momentum, which was increased further by Sharma and Pollard.