Rohit Sharma played a captain's innings and was backed up ably by his bowlers and fielders as Mumbai Indians beat Kings XI Punjab by 4 runs in their Pepsi Indian Premier League at the Wankhede stadium on Monday.
Mumbai's cricketers put up a superb effort in the outfield taking some brilliant catches to restrict Punjab to bowl out 170 from their allotted 20 overs.
Punjab came very close to winning, but missed it by a whisker. For the visitors, David Miller was again the star, top-socring with 56. His innigns was studded with 5 sixes and one boundary.
For a change, the Wankhede Stadium crowd was not chanting ‘Sachin-Sachin’, but ‘Rohit-Rohit’ as the Mumbai Indians skipper slammed an unbeaten 79 in just 39 balls.
Earlier, Sharma smashed a blistering unbeaten 79 off 39 balls to power Mumbai Indians to a challenging 174 for three after a sluggish start.
Sharma, standing in for regular skipper Ricky Ponting who opted out for the third match running, struck six sixes and as many fours in his devastating knock to take Mumbai from 43 for two in the eighth over to a big score.
The innings will be long remembered by the Mumbai stalwart since it was played on the eve of his 26th birthday. His childhood coach Dinesh Lad was present (for the first time at the venue) to witness his ward’s IPL performance.
“He sent tickets for my entire family and insisted that I make it to the ground. I generally don’t go whenever he is playing,” Lad told MiD DAY after watching Rohit’s knock.
Rohit, who struck his fourth half-century in nine matches, was in ominous touch as he cut, pulled and drove with elan. Mumbai Indians were slow off the blocks, but were on track thanks to Rohit, who played some memorable strokes along the ground as well as over the ropes. It was a perfect mix of power and style.
Till the 11th over, MI were scoring just below six runs an over at 65-2. But Rohit single-handedly upped the tempo. Punjab were shoddy in the field. Had they not dropped catches and missed a stumping, it would have been a different story. A few half-hearted efforts further hampered their revival chances.
MI once again lost Sachin Tendulkar (9) early on as the batting icon got an inside edge onto the stumps off Praveen Kumar. Mumbai’s two in-form batsmen Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik tried to build on after losing the first wicket on 11. But Karthik lost his wicket just like Tendulkar and perished to Manpreet Gony for 25.
Smith, who didn’t look at his best, just seemed to get his eye in when he struck Gony for three fours in the 12th over. In the first ball of the next over, he struck leggie Piyush Chawla for a brutal six to bring up 100 runs for MI. Smith couldn’t come up with something similar off the next ball and was caught by David Miller for 33.
Rohit was particularly ruthless in the final over bowled by Punjab’s stand-in skipper David Hussey, hammering 27 runs. If the two sixes over long-on were a treat to watch, his six over mid-wicket that landed in the second tier of the Divecha Pavilion brought the crowd to their feet.
In reply, Punjab managed 170 runs to hand MI a four-run win as the hosts maintained their 100 per cent win record at home in the sixth edition of the Pepsi Indian Premier League match yesterday.
Credit to David Miller for his 34-ball 56 that helped Punjab come close to the target. But the match wasn’t over until Praveen Kumar’s 14-ball 24 cameo, which provided some anxious moments in the final over, came to an end. Needing 17 off the last over bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen brought it down to five off the last ball with a huge six on the penultimate ball. However, the maverick pacer, trying to slice, was caught by Tendulkar at point off the last ball.
Punjab’s fate was more or less sealed once stand-in skipper David Hussey was dismissed for 34. But Miller, maintaining his calm, kept attacking even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. The southpaw was eventually dismissed in the 18th over caught by Sachin Tendulkar off Mitchell Johnson.
Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the bowlers, claiming three wickets for 14 in his four overs.