Ever since Rohit Sharma has taken over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting for the Mumbai Indians, his batting has gone up by quite a few notches. On Monday, Sharma gave the latest illustration of his abundant talent, coming up with a sensational knock to doom a fighting Kings XI Punjab, who were playing without their out of form skipper Adam Gilchrist, at the Wankhede Stadium. Sharma has played some awesome knocks in this year’s IPL so far, but his splendid innings against Punjab should go down as one of his best ever in the T20 format.
Sharma’s knock stood out in the sense that most of the other batsmen in the Mumbai batsmen failed to score at a desired pace. While Sachin Tendulkar had another failure, the in-form Dwayne Smith managed to score at just over a run-a-ball, Dinesh Karthik was only slightly better in this aspect and the big-hitting Kieron Pollard in fact maintained a run-rate of just under 100. These figures clearly demonstrate how well Sharma batted. While he managed to find the boundaries with ease during his innings, it was his last-over antics, in which he continuous slapped his opposition number David Hussey into the stands that will remain the fondest memory of the match.
Although Mumbai ended up with an above par score, Punjab bowlers were actually on top of the opposition batsmen for a significant portion of the innings. Praveen Kumar stifled the Mumbai innings during his spell whilst also claiming the big scalp of Sachin Tendulkar. Parvinder Awana was in top form, conceding only four runs an over, but it were the shabby performances by Piyush Chawla and David Hussey, which pretty much nullified the excellent effort by the others. The poor bowling efforts of the duo ultimately hurt Punjab.
Chasing a challenging total, Punjab needed a fiery start. They were hoping for a lot from Mandeep Singh and Shaun Marsh, both of whom have played incredible knocks over the years in the IPL. But, this wasn’t to be their day. To put it in fairer words, the Mumbai bowlers never allowed the innings to get off to the desired start. Lasith Malinga was all over Mandeep, Pragyan Ojha undid Shaun Marsh while Manan Vohra was sent back by Mitchell Johnson. Having lost their big three cheaply, Punjab were always going to struggle, but they did incredibly well to stage a fightback.
David Hussey made up partly for his terrible last over, coming up with a smashing cameo to give Punjab a semblance of hope. Hussey, however, fell before Punjab could progress much further. Once again though it was David Miller, who displayed his incredible talent in this format, single-handedly keeping Punjab in the hunt with some incredible strokes. Even after Miller departed, Praveen Kumar kept up the fight for Punjab, using the long handle to great effect. However, the continuous loss of wickets, meant they were always playing catch up.
Turning point of the game: The 27-run last over bowled by Hussey during Mumbai’s innings, which effectively cost Punjab the clash.
--By A Cricket Analyst