A familiar tale unfolded in Wednesday's IPL clash in Abu Dhabi as Mumbai Indians continued their dominance over Kolkata Knight Riders with skipper Rohit Sharma being the destructor-in-chief. While rustiness was an issue, the two-time champions were not helped by captain Dinesh Karthik's decisions.
One of the most glaring instances came right at the start of the contest as Sandeep Warrier and Shivam Mavi were entrusted with the new ball instead of record purchase Pat Cummins. While Mavi did have a good day with the ball, both Indian pacers afforded Rohit the time to settle down. His IPL record over the last couple of years has shown that he is vulnerable to pace and swing early on in his innings.
Warrier gave him a couple of short deliveries to get his confidence going and by the time Cummins was introduced in the fifth over, both Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav had already got their eye in. His ploy of bowling short of a length backfired as Rohit, Saurabh Tiwary and Hardik Pandya clattered him all over the ground.
It was clearly not the Australian pacer's day as Karthik did not let him complete his full quota of overs as well, conceding 49 in three overs. "It is very unfair to judge him (Cummins) right now," Karthik said after the match. "He is just off quarantine, he got permission to come and play the match at 3.30-4pm. We are just happy to have him and I don't think this is a game where we need to judge him at all."
But the KKR skipper will know this is a result-oriented business and with big money comes a certain degree of expectation. The skipper will also be under pressure with many experts coming out in the media and saying that Eoin Morgan should be entrusted with the captaincy considering his pedigree of lifting the World Cup.
Even in last year's tournament, there was a call to promote Andre Russell higher up the order so that he could get his eye in before unleashing himself later on. But that was clearly not the gameplan as the Tamil Nadu cricketer came in to bat at No 3 with the big Jamaican getting his chance at No 6 with KKR needing 120 in 50 balls. The four-time champions had held back their three pacers keeping this in mind and the plan worked to perfection.
While CSK had also lost while chasing a big total against Rajasthan, MS Dhoni had ensured that the margin of defeat would not hurt their chances later on. However, KKR inexplicably went gung-ho even when the loss was more or less confirmed and that resulted in a NRR of -2.450. The only positive for the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise is the fact that they faced their bogey team in the first match itself.