IPL 2021: Knight-mare of a chase
Rohit Sharma has always been a master at tactics and game plan, especially in close matches in the limited -overs version. On Tuesday, he once again proved why Mumbai Indians can never be written off in the IPL.
Run-making has been tough on the slow wickets in Chennai as Kolkata Knight Riders failed to chase down 153 during another gripping contest. In the end, what stood out was Rohit’s handling of the bowlers and his astute leadership qualities.
The five-time champions thus returned to winning ways after losing the opener. Eoin Morgan’s men had everything going in their favour but lost out against some superb bowling from Rahul Chahar (4/27) and Krunal Pandya (1/13).
KKR needed 22 from the last three overs with Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell at the crease. Anyone would have fretted but Rohit stuck to his plan. Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult restricted the batsmen with a disciplined line, KKR ended 10 runs in arrears.
Chahar picked the first four wickets to fall in the KKR innings with sharp turn from a leg stump line. Rahul Tripathi failed in his attempt to nudge it away for a single while Eoin Morgan paid the penalty for stepping out to one that pitched wide. Nitish Rana was left stranded outside the crease by the wrong one.
The openers gave KKR a rollicking start with Rana setting the pace for the chase with a boundary off the first ball of the innings. Shubman Gill played the supporting role until opening up against Marco Jansen with three boundaries in the sixth over of the innings. He hit a six off Chahar but failed while attempting an encore off the next ball.
Only weeks back, Rana had become the first player to test positive for Covid-19. With a Man of the Match-winning performance versus Sunrisers Hyderabad and another near-perfect showing on Tuesday, he will certainly bring some smiles back in the faces of thousands in these bleak times.
Rana was disciplined, waiting for the loose deliveries and picking the gaps with aplomb. The other batsmen just needed to bat around him, providing the support.
On a wicket where the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat, KKR relied on their spinners for the first five overs. Harbhajan Singh and Varun Chakravarthy started off well but Suryakumar Yadav broke the shackles with three boundaries off the senior pro in the third over.
The reliance on spinners did pay off with Chakravarthy cramping Quinton De Kock for room on the big hit only to hole out in the deep. But Suryakumar looked determined to make his mark. It was not that he was comfortable against the slower bowlers only.
Pat Cummins was mercilessly whipped over square leg for six as Suryakumar (56 off 36 balls, 7x4, 2x6) completed his half-century. Prasidh Krishna too didn’t escape his savage strokeplay with Rohit content playing the second fiddle during their 76-run partnership.
For Suryakumar, this IPL could prove to be a watershed in his career. Having made the most of the T20Is versus England, a consistent showing in the IPL could provide the breakthrough if he has to gatecrash into the Team India XI. The competition, ahead of the T20 World Cup, will be stiff given the plethora of riches on offer.
The Mumbai Indians innings never really got the momentum once Suryakumar departed. The innings disintegrated into a litany of mistakes and injudicious strokemaking which propelled their end.
Even Rohit (43 off 32) wasn’t good enough to provide the momentum in the middle overs before dragging an off-cutter from Cummins on to the stumps. It was mainly because of Krunal Pandya’s late assault that they crossed the 150-mark.
On this slow surface, the KKR pacers made the difference sharing eight of the 10 Mumbai Indians wicket to fall. Cummins certainly made the difference with his extra pace but it was Russell’s day.
The 32-year-old Jamaican’s five-for stiffled Mumbai Indians’ progress in the death as he craftily did the damage in the space of 12 balls, including three wickets in the final over. From 115 for 3, they lost their last seven wickets within a space of 29 balls, adding only 37 runs.