Rohit Sharma has shown once again why he is one of the best batsmen in the limited formats of the game as Mumbai Indians skipper played a flawless 54-ball 80 runs knock on a surface that wasn’t easy to bat on as Mumbai Indians registered their first win in the Indian Premier League at the cost of Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
While every other batsman from the team found it hard to build their innings on the Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch that wasn’t easy to bat on, Rohit was in a class of his own as the MI skipper took time to set his eyes before upping the ante.
Suryakumar Yadav also chipped in with a solid 47 off 28 as well, especially after MI lost their opener Quinton de Kock (1 off 3) early to put on a 91-run stand for second wicket. Surya was unfortunately run out while looking for a tricky two with 98 runs on board. But star of the show certainly was Rohit who stayed at the pitch till the 18th over – hitting six maximums and three boundaries — making a 200-plus score mandatory. He was aptly assisted for the third wicket by Saurabh Tiwari, who managed 21 off 13 before falling prey to Patt Cummins.
Following Rohit’s departure, none of the power-hitters in the likes of Hardik Pandya (18 off 13), Kieron Pollard (13* off 7) could clear the fields in their customary fashion as MI settled at 195/5 at the end of innings.
Chasing 196 was never going to be easy on this pitch and KKR realised it from the word go. Skipper Rohit’s plan to give the opening four overs to Trent Boult and James Pattinson was right on the spot as the duo, along with some tight field set-up, didn’t allow openers Shubman Gill and Sunil Narine to open up their arms.
With the pressure of rising run rate, the duo soon perished with Gill (7 runs off 11 balls) hitting an uppish delivery by Boult straight to Keiron Pollard while the scoreboard read 14/1. 11 runs later Narine (9 off 10) followed as he knicked one to Quinton de Kock, who made a brilliant jump to take a one-hander, off James Pattinson.
The situation wasn’t pleasing for KKR captain Dinesh Karthik who was asked to rebuild the innings with southpaw Nitish Rana in at no. 4.
The right-hand left-hand combination steadily built a partnership of 46 runs in the next 5 overs but rising asking rate, which crossed 12 per over at one point, meant the two were willing to take more risk with a flurry of power-hitters waiting in the dugout.
Rana (24 off 18) took a more aggressive approach while Karthik (30 off 23) waited for bad deliveries to bank upon. The partnership ended in the 11th over after wrist spinner Rahul Chahar caught the skipper lbw with 71 runs on board.
Rana — who was joined by Eoin Morgan at no.5 — was the fourth wicket to fall 6 runs later after his attempt to clear the fence was caught by ever-athletic Hardik Pandya, who covered a lot of ground, on the boundary line to present Pollard his first wicket of the game.
Ther pressure of the target on that surface was already looking tough on the KKR’s proven finishers as Andre Russell (11 off 11) and Morgan (16 off 20) soon departed with just 101 runs on the board as the game seemed well out of reach.
But it was too little too late as KKR finished their innings at 146/9 At the end of 20th over.