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Ice-cool Rohit seals Mumbai’s top-four spot

Wisden India logo Wisden India 01-05-2017
© AP Photo

It was another scrappy batting performance from Royal Challengers Bangalore. Their bowlers were spirited in their defence of the 162 for 8, taking it down to the wire, but Rohit Sharma remained calm under pressure to complete a five-wicket win for Mumbai Indians off the penultimate ball.

Mumbai thus reached the top of the table and ensured themselves a top-four spot, while Bangalore were pushed to the brink of elimination.

Pawan Negi had a day to remember at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday (May 1), conceding just 17 in picking up two wickets after adding a vital 23-ball 35 to lift Bangalore to a respectable total. He however ended on the losing side; even a stream of new partners at the other end didn’t deter Rohit, who anchored Mumbai’s chase with a 37-ball 56.

The Bangalore bowlers were tight, but Rohit found those one or two loose balls every over to attack. Shane Watson was left with seven to defend off the last over, and two off two when Rohit brought up the winning runs with an off-side four.

Mumbai’s chase got off to an ominous start when Aniket Choudhary got the better of Parthiv Patel off the first ball of the innings. Nitish Rana, however, needed little time to settle down. He took the attack to Chahal while Jos Buttler greeted Adam Milne with consecutive fours.

The Mumbai fifty came within the Power Play overs and it took the Watson-Negi combination to pull things back.

Negi struck twice in consecutive overs, sending back both well-set batsmen. Buttler (33 off 21) was caught at extra cover and having faced 14 deliveries without getting a boundary, Rana was tempted to go over midwicket, where he was caught expertly by Travis Head.

Chahal ensured there would be no repeat of the Kieron Pollard heroics that had buried Bangalore in the reverse fixture. Krunal Pandya, who had been hurt while fielding, hobbled for a couple of balls and exacerbated his injury diving to make his ground before he was forced to retire hurt.

Hardik Pandya, unbeaten on 14 off nine balls, including a vital six, helped Rohit past the death overs as their side finished on 165 for 5.

Earlier, Negi and AB de Villiers, who smashed a 27-ball 43, helped set up Bangalore’s total.

They didn’t have the best start despite batting first on a flat track. Bangalore lost their openers inside the Power Play and couldn’t build significant partnerships.

Mandeep Singh began with intent, hitting a couple of fours off Mitchell McClenaghan before working a slower yorker off Malinga through the fine-leg boundary.

Spin was introduced as early as the fourth over, through Karn Sharma, who replaced an injured Harbhajan Singh. Three quiet overs later, Kohli finally found the gaps with a lofted six over long-on.

Mandeep’s inexperience came to the fore when he attempted to slog a fuller delivery off Karn, only to hand a simple catch to deep midwicket. And Kohli had no one but himself to blame when he chipped a wide delivery from McClenaghan straight to Rohit Sharma at midwicket.

De Villiers came in keen to make amends for recent showings, warming up with a cut past backward point and a slog-swept six into the stands. But despite the boundaries, Mumbai’s bowlers did well to keep Bangalore to 80 for 2 at the halfway mark.

While Head played the anchor before falling to Krunal, de Villiers didn’t take his foot off the pedal, racing to 43 off 27 balls. However, hopes for an ABD special were quashed when Krunal (2 for 34) got de Villiers to top edge a sweep to Jasprit Bumrah at fine-leg.

Watson returned to the hut as quickly as he came, before a 54-run fifth-wicket stand between Kedar Jadhav and Negi saved Bangalore the blushes. The scoring rate crawled with two new batsmen at the crease but the change in tempo came from Negi, who hit a couple off sixes off Malinga and then another off Bumrah as Bangalore breached the 150-run barrier.

Both Jadhav (28 off 22 balls) and Negi (35 off 23 balls) fell to McClenaghan (3 for 34) off consecutive deliveries in the final over, while S Arvind was run-out off the hat-trick ball to end Bangalore’s lacklustre effort. They were left to rue those few missing runs.

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