MUMBAI: Captain Rohit Sharma held on resolutely to lead Mumbai Indians to a five-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in a closely contested match at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
Much closer, perhaps, than Sharma would have liked.
Having won the toss, Bangalore’s captain Virat Kohli elected to bat. The struggling Bangalore outfit, whose faint qualifying hopes ended with the defeat, made a modest 162 for eight. But in their last home game, Mumbai had fallen to Rising Pune Supergiant to a similar score and the pitch at Wankhede sometimes tends to be on the slower side, seeking more effort and patience from the batsmen.
With Mumbai losing wickets regularly, and only barely managing to keep up with the required rate, the chase could have gone either way. But Sharma buckled down, resisted the temptation of going for the big shots early on and guided his team to safety, even as things got run-a-ball close in the last over. After four runs off the first four balls in the final over by Shane Watson, Sharma dispatched a low full-toss for four to bring the curtain down on the drama.
He finished with an unbeaten 56 off 37 balls to lead his team’s charge to the top of the table once again. With 16 points from 10 matches, Mumbai are assured of a berth in the knockouts.
For RCB, it was the lesser-known Pawan Negi who shone on the day. His quickfire 35 towards the end, adorned with three massive sixes, is what pushed Bangalore’s score past 150.
Kohli had once again fallen to a soft-dismissal, caught by Sharma at short mid-wicket off Mitchell McClenaghan, at 20. Chris Gayle was still benched but AB de Villiers threatened to score another hurricane innings, like his 133 not out in 2015 the last time he visited the Wankhede with Bangalore.
The South African had struck three fours and three sixes, the last of which came off his signature sweep on one knee. On the very next ball against Krunal Pandya, De Villiers got down on the knee again and swept, but the ball caught the shoulder of the bat and ballooned high before it was safely caught by Jasprit Bumrah.
Possibly the only worry for Mumbai was Krunal retiring to the pavilion with an injury. The Baroda player landed awkwardly on the ball while fielding and seemed to have aggravated it while batting. He had dived to make his ground while runing a single.