All-star of the match
Rohit Sharma has played only two meaningful knocks so far this season. Both have led to wins for Mumbai Indians. And they have been the only wins they've mustered up. It is another reminder of the impact an in-form Rohit has on the team.
Like he usually does when in full flow, Rohit made his knock on Saturday against Chennai Super Kings seem effortless. But it's important not to lose sight of the context it came in. With five defeats in six matches, this was a deflated Mumbai side. Another loss on Saturday would've all but drawn curtains on their title defence.
Mumbai's bowlers had already done their bit by reining in Chennai Super Kings after a powerful start. Now Rohit had the luxury of walking out to a solid platform. But with the required rate touching 10, there was a job to do, especially considering Mumbai's batting woes at the death: their run rate of 8.04 during this period, until Saturday, was better only than Sunrisers Hyderabad's. But Rohit meticulously went about the chase, holding tremendous composure despite having to deal with a slow and scratchy Evin Lewis at the other end. It enabled Mumbai to breeze through at a run rate of 9.31 during their second-wicket partnership of 59.
Having begun sedately, Rohit paced his innings to perfection. A brace of sixes off Shane Watson in the 14th over gave him his first boundaries. Thereafter, he kept the score ticking to keep Mumbai on course, before launching into top gear late into the chase - best highlighted by four fours off five balls against Shardul Thakur in the 19th over. All said, this was a classic Rohit innings in every way: timing, placement, elegance, poise, and pacing.
The wow moment
It's remarkable enough when you're able to sweep a medium-pacer. But with Rohit, the awe factor shoots up because of the frequency with which he's able to do it. Moreover, the time he has to get in position and pick his gap makes it seem as though he's doing it against a spinner.
In the 19th over, off Thakur, Rohit had sliced the bowler over point and placed a late dab neatly between backward point and short third man. That meant MS Dhoni had packed his off-side field by the time Thakur ran in to bowl the over's final delivery. It ended up being a fuller one, well outside Rohit's off-stump. Having sussed out the vast gaps in the leg-side field, Rohit read the incoming angle, and got down on one knee to crunch a sweep behind square leg. The shot brought up his half-century, and narrowed the equation for Mumbai to five runs off the last over.
Rohit Sharma's teams have never lost when he has remained not out while chasing in IPL. Rohit has been unbeaten 16 times in chases, and won all the games for his team - four times for Deccan Chargers, and 12 for Mumbai Indians.
Rohit batted at No. 3 for the first time this IPL. He batted at this position five times in the previous season and totaled only 35 runs, with four single-digit scores.
Rohit's strike-rate of 169.69 is his second-best among his 14 fifty-plus scores when chasing in IPLs.
Rohit's Man-of-the-Match award was his 16th in the IPL. AB de Villiers and Yusuf Pathan also have 16 such awards each. Only Chris Gayle (20) has more.
What they said
"Very much alive (laughs). Wanted this win desperately. We wanted to be calm, today was a perfect game. When you want to win games like this, all three departments have to come collectively. That's when you get results."