New Delhi: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And that was evident once again on Monday evening as Mumbai Indians rode on skipper Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 56 to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 5 wickets at the Wankhede Stadium. The win sealed MI’s place in the Playoffs as they now sit atop the points table with 14 points from 10 games.
More than qualifying for the knockouts with 4 games to spare, it is the form of Rohit that augurs well for Mumbai. Even though he had shown sparks of elegance in earlier games, this was the first time when the vintage cuts and pulls were out of the bag. It has been a tough journey in the last year for Rohit, thanks to the injury woes, but he is surely back with a bang.
Chasing 163, Mumbai Indians got off to a disastrous start as Aniket Choudhary sent back in-form Parthiv Patel for a duck off the first ball of the innings. Looking to pull, Parthiv lobbed it straight to Yuzvendra Chahal at mid-wicket.
But Nitish Rana and Jos Buttler looked in fine flow as they immediately took the attack to the RCB bowlers. In fact, they were going all guns blazing and Mumbai were placed on 55/1 after 6 overs as the players went for a strategic break.
Shane Watson came back and bowled a good over after the break as MI managed just 3 runs. And Buttler (33) lost his wicket in the next one off Pawan Negi as the batsman failed to clear Travis Head at extra cover.
Rana (27) too left off Negi’s next over as the slog sweep once again landed in Head’s lap. That was a good catch as Head lobbed it up as he crossed the rope and returned back to finish the catch.
Kieron Pollard joined Rohit in the middle and they kept running the singles and picking the boundaries to keep the run-rate under control. It finally took Chahal to send back Pollard (17) as the latter jumped down the track and failed to clear Head at deep mid-wicket.
Krunal Pandya got in with the score reading 98/4, Mumbai needing 65 off 42 balls. But three balls later, Krunal had to return back retired hurt. Karn Sharma was promoted ahead of Hardik and along with Rohit he kept the scoreboard moving.
Rohit in the meantime started showing his old form as he brought out the vintage drives and pulls as the Mumbai now needed just 38 runs off the last 4 over. But once again, a wicket fell to spice things up and this time it was Karn (9). Hardik came in to join Rohit in the middle.
With MI needing 30 off 18 balls, Kohli turned to Choudhary and he bowled 5 good balls to give away just 5 runs. But, he bowled a wide off the sixth and had to re-bowl it. And the re-bowled one went into the square-leg boundary for a maximum.
MI now needed 18 runs off the last 2 overs and once again Rohit showed his class as he pre-meditated the slog sweep and sent it to the mid-wicket stands. The rest was a walk in the park as MI needed 7 runs off the last over. It was poetic justice that Rohit hit the winning boundary.
Earlier, Virat Kohli won the toss and decided that RCB will bat first. Mandeep Singh and Kohli started well, having picked 21 from the first 3 overs. But Rohit introduced Karn Sharma into the attack and he immediately sent back Mandeep for 17.
Travis Head came in to join Kohli and even before the two could settle down and build the innings, Mitchell McClenaghan got the wicket of Kohli (20). McClenaghan bowled a slower one and Kohli hit that straight to Rohit at short mid-wicket.
Bangalore’s score read 40/2 as AB de Villiers joined Head at the crease. De Villiers looked in good touch as he kept running the singles and picked the timely boundaries. But just when it looked like he would lay the platform for a good finish with Head, Krunal Pandya struck and sent back Head for 12, caught by brother Hardik at the mid-wicket boundary.
De Villiers too left two overs later, as Krunal picked him for 43. A top-edged sweep landed in the lap of Jasprit Bumrah at short fine-leg. The score read 102/4 in the 13th over. Shane Watson came in next and was dismissed for just 3 as last game’s hero Bumrah struck. It was a length ball and Watson hit that across the line, only to see the timber disturbed.
Malinga and McClenaghan bowled two good overs in the 15th and 16th as just 11 runs came and tightened the screws on the Bangalore batting. With Kedar Jadhav and Pawan Negi at the crease, RCB’s score read 122/5 after 16 overs.
With 4 overs left, RCB picked up 10 off the 17th as Kedar managed to pick a boundary off Bumrah. But Negi got stuck into Malinga in the 18th over as he hit the Lankan for two sixes and RCB picked 15 runs to end on 147/5 after 18 overs.
But Bumrah bowled another good one in the 19th as RCB managed just 10 runs and McClenaghan sent back Negi (35) and Kedar (28) off successive balls and Sreenath Aravind was run out for a duck off the last ball in the 20th over as RCB ended on 162/8.