IPL 2017: Rohit Sharma stands tall to hand RCB another defeat

Rohit Sharma stood tall in a tricky chase and helped Mumbai Indians clinch a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday (May 1). RCB, with their eighth loss in 11 games, are all but out of the race to make it to the playoffs while Mumbai leapfrogged Kolkata Knight Riders to take the top spot in the points table and strengthened their hold at the top of the table.

Did RCB get a better start?

Yes and No. You don’t often see Virat Kohli smiling after he’s dismissed. Not after an ODI century, not after a Test double ton. However, when he was dismissed by Mitchell McClenaghan for 20, the RCB captain walked off smiling. Kohli was dismissed by an innocuous delivery. Length ball from the pacer, outside the leg stump – that could have been left alone or flicked past short-fine – was chipped straight to short mid-wicket. Everything that could go wrong seemed to be going wrong for RCB.

When Kohli was dismissed, his team had been pegged back after a decent start and found themselves at 40 for 2 in the sixth over. They were, however, propped up by AB de Villiers, who slammed a 27-ball 43. De Villiers came out with intent and took on the bowlers to propel the side while Travis Head (12) played second fiddle.

However, Head smashed a pull straight to Hardik Pandya at mid-wicket in the 11th over while de Villiers, trying to dominate Krunal Pandya – his nemesis, ended up top edging a simple catch to Jasprit Bumrah at short fine. From 40 for 1, RCB had slipped to 108 for 5 and another below par score seemed on the cards.

How did they get to 162 then?

With still more than six over to go, RCB needed a steady stand but had been bogged down by regular wickets. Pawan Negi (35) and Kedar Jadhav (28) steadied the innings and then launched a late onslaught to lift the team over the 160-run mark and give the team a chance. They scored 53 runs in six overs for the sixth wicket to give the team a fighting chance.

How did Rohit find his rhythm again?

RCB, for a change, came out with intent in defense of their total. Aniket Choudhary bounced out Parthiv Patel off the very first ball of the chase to give the team the much-needed positive start. Jos Buttler (33) and Nitish Rana (27) then stitched a 61-run stand for the second wicket to get the chase going before RCB spinners brought the visitors right back in the contest.

Negi dismissed both Buttler and Rana in space of 11 balls to reduce Mumbai to 70 for 3. Kieron Pollard looked threatening during his 13-ball stay but fell to Yuzvendra Chahal in the 13th over with the team still 64 away.

Despite Rohit’s presence, things still looked difficult for Mumbai when Krunal Pandya had to retire hurt. The Mumbai captain kept his team in the hunt and brought the equation down to 59 off the last six over.

Considering a lot of questions have been raised about Rohit’s batting position, his form and his new-found weakness against spinners, this was his chance to make a statement. The Mumbai captain found good support from Hardik Pandya (14 not out) as the duo brought the equation down to 18 off the last two overs and then polished off the chase in the final over.

Rohit ended unbeaten on 56 and showed just why the team has decided to make him bat in the middle-order.

Where do the teams go from here?

RCB, whose forgettable campaign rececived another jolt, will host Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders on May 5 and 7 respectively before playing their final game of the season against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on May 14.

Mumbai now play three away games in their remaining four fixtures. They travel to Delhi and then to Hyderabad to play against Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 6 and 8 respectively. After their home game against Kings XI Punjab on May 11, they play their final league fixture on May 13 in Kolkata.

Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 162/8 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 43; Mitchell McClenaghan 3-34) lost to Mumbai Indians 165/5 in 19.5 overs (Rohit Sharma 56 not out; Pawan Negi 2-17) by five wickets.

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