Maximum city’s maximum joy

Rohit Sharma had all the reasons to gloat over his romance with the venue as he pulled off an encore by leading his side to victory at the same venue and against the same opponent, CSK.

Cup of joy… Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma receives the Indian Premier League trophy from the BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya. A second wicket partnership of 119 runs between Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons (below) virtually took the match away from Chennai Super Kings.-PICS: PTI Cup of joy… Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma receives the Indian Premier League trophy from the BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya. A second wicket partnership of 119 runs between Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons (below) virtually took the match away from Chennai Super Kings.

The period between the second and the 12th overs of the Mumbai Indians’ innings, during which Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons ran riot, proved crucial. This phase of the innings completely broke the resolve of Chennai Super Kings, writes Amitabha Das Sharma.

“I have always taken good memories from here,” Rohit Sharma reflected on his ‘love affair’ with the Eden Gardens after shepherding Mumbai Indians to its second Indian Premier League title on a hot and humid evening in Kolkata on May 24.

Getting the middle and end games right!  

The Mumbai Indians skipper had all the reasons to gloat over his romance with the venue as he pulled off an encore by leading his side to victory at the same venue and against the same opponent, Chennai Super Kings. (Mumbai Indians had to wait for six seasons before Sharma took over the reins of captaincy and led the team to its maiden IPL title when Eden Gardens hosted its first final in 2013.)

Apart from this, Sharma has also achieved a few individual milestones like the ODI world record of 264 (against Sri Lanka in 2014) and the 177 on his Test debut (against West Indies in 2013) at the Eden Gardens.

“It has been a great journey, and I cannot ask for anything more as we won it (the IPL crown) coming from nowhere,” said Sharma.

By ensuring a second title for Mumbai Indians, which completely dominated Chennai Super Kings, one of the most successful outfits in the League, Sharma was quietly relishing his elevation as one of the most successful captains in the IPL. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the skipper of the vanquished Chennai Super Kings, though, continues to remain the most successful leader in the tournament, having seen his team to six of the eight IPL finals and winning two of them (in 2010 and 2011). However, the victory in IPL-8 puts Sharma in the exclusive league of captains — Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir of Kolkata Knight Riders are the others — who have won the title more than once.

Hailed as one of the most technically accomplished batsmen in the game, Sharma has been the key factor behind the efflorescence of Mumbai Indians. The team’s victory was essentially driven by its philosophy of showing character during crisis.

Savouring the triumph... Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting (left), owner Nita Ambani along with mentor Sachin Tendulkar (second from right) and Harbhajan Singh (right) celebrate with the trophy. The involvement of legends like Ponting, Tendulkar and Anil Kumble brought the best out of the Mumbai Indians players.-

“We always thought it important to show character when under stress.

“The victory is definitely the result of it when we could put everything together and make a turnaround in crisis,” said Sharma, referring to the initial phase of the IPL when his team lost four consecutive matches to sink to the bottom of the standings.

Giving a leg-up!  

Inducting the masters of the game into its support staff was a move that seemed to help Mumbai Indians bring the best out of its players. The involvement of legends like former Australian captain Ricky Ponting as the coach, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble as mentors, gave Sharma the necessary backing to script a spectacular turnaround and come up with an exceptional performance in the final.

Sharma, whose unbeaten 98 went in vain against Kolkata Knight Riders in the opener, ensured that his form helped the overall performance of Mumbai Indians and did not remain secluded as an individual effort.

New venues, new avenues  

Lendl Simmons, who joined the team as an injury replacement midway through the season, was an ideal foil to Sharma. The West Indian was one of the key performers in Mumbai Indians’ turnaround and the eventual triumph. Sharma provided the thrust with an outstanding 50 that was aggressive as well as technically brilliant. Simmons was his perfect partner, scoring 68 in a second wicket partnership that was worth 119 runs. The association virtually took the match away from Dhoni & Co.

Chennai Super Kings failed to come up with any kind of cricketing sorcery, as Sharma and Simmons, and later Kieron Pollard (36) and Ambati Rayudu (36 not out) batted with similar intensity to help Mumbai Indians post a mammoth 202.

The period between the second and the 12th overs of the Mumbai Indians’ innings, during which Sharma and Simmons ran riot with some lusty hitting, proved crucial. This phase of the innings completely broke the resolve of Chennai Super Kings.

Dhoni & co. went back ruing another defeat in the final — the team’s third in four seasons — that came on the back of a strange batting debacle.