Rohit does it for MI, knocks RCB out of IPL playoff race

The Mumbai Indians captain leads from the front to help his side pull off another victory. The defeat dashes struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore’s hopes of making it to the playoffs.

Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten half-century guided Mumbai Indians to another convincing victory.   -  AFP

Over the first nine editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rohit Sharma has established himself as the undisputed king of chasing down targets. However, the magic seemed to have been missing so far in the 10th edition. The Mumbai Indians captain regained his silken touch by leading the Mumbai Indians to a five-wicket win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

Thanks to Rohit’s unbeaten 55, Mumbai Indians overhauled the target of 163 off the penultimate ball after a tense last over by Shane Watson. The result also ensured Mumbai Indians of a place in the top four and evaporated whatever minuscule arithmetic chance Royal Challengers had of making the cut.

When Rohit joined lefty Nitish Rana at the crease in the eighth over after Jos Buttler failed to build up on yet another good start, the home team required 102 runs off 75 balls. The MI captain, entering the IPL on the back of a prolonged injury layoff, has struggled against the leg-spinners in the tournament.

Perhaps the Royal Challengers captain Virat Kohli missed the trick by not re-introducing Yuzvendra Chahal into the attack straightaway. Even with left-arm spinner Pawan Negi getting rid of Rana and Chahal forcing a mistake from the big unit of Kieron Pollard, Rohit had set himself up to stay there till the end.

Despite losing partners at the other end, Rohit, having become only the fourth batsman to cross 4,000 runs in IPL early on in his innings, continued to rotate the strike and target an odd boundary to ensure the required rate doesn't pile on.

Hardik Pandya brought down the target to well within reach with a six over deep square off Aniket Choudhary in the 18th over. Rohit then swept a slower one from S. Arvind from outside the off-stump into the stands over square leg to ensure his team required just seven runs off the last over.

Watson started off with a wide but then restricted both the batsmen to two singles each for the next four balls. With two off two required, Rohit caressed him through the covers for a four to seal the win.

Rohit’s effort washed out the efforts of A. B. de Villiers and Negi with the bat, which helped the Royal Challengers to put on its first respectable total in four outings. While de Villiers's quick-fire 43 was cut short with a top-edged sweep off left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya, Negi's cameo ensured that the Royal Challengers had a total to bowl at. However, the Royal Challengers lost three wickets off the last three balls, which eventually turned out to be a knockout blow for the team.