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IPL 2017, MI vs RCB: Rohit Sharma's resolute knock to help Mumbai ace a tough chase is SK Turning Point of the match

The elegant right-hander's unbeaten fifty propels MI to the top of the table.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma returned to his sublime best and guided Mumbai Indians to victory

Last month, Rohit Sharma was asked why he did not open the innings for Mumbai Indians. The elegant right-hander responded by alluding to last season wherein Mumbai Indians struggled to get past the finishing line during tricky chases.

Extra Cover: IPL 2017, MI vs RCB – Player Ratings

He vindicated his statements by rising to the occasion and helping his side complete a difficult chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Scoring his second half-century of this edition, the skipper delivered a five-wicket triumph for Mumbai which consequently propelled them to the top of the points table. Here’s how the events transpired at the Wankhede Stadium.

Regular wickets put RCB on top

Earlier in the day, Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bat first on an even-paced surface. Alongside a new opening partner in Mandeep Singh, the skipper got his team off to a breezy start. However, both batsmen fell within quick succession of each other to restore parity.

Coming into this game on the back of some poor form, AB de Villiers looked quite fluent under slightly better batting conditions. But his inexplicable struggles against Krunal Pandya continued as an error in judgment ended a sparkling 27-ball 43. When all-rounder Shane Watson perished immediately, RCB were in serious danger of collapsing in a heap.

Extra Cover: Krunal Pandya claims AB de Villiers for the fourth time; sends him back with a cheeky gesture

A plucky partnership between Pawan Negi and Kedar Jadhav steadied the ship. While the left-hander smashed three sixes in his aggressive knock, the latter pierced the gaps and kept rotating the strike. As a result of their efforts, the visitors were able to reach 162.

Mumbai’s chase began rather shoddily as opening batsman Parthiv Patel tamely perished in the first ball of the innings. On the other hand, Jos Buttler began to lay into the total with a flurry of boundaries. Making his intentions pretty clear, the England star seemed to set a solid foundation. As is often seen, one breakthrough can lead to another and change the flow of the game.

Negi brought the Royal Challengers back into the contest by removing Buttler and the in-form Nitish Rana in the space of 11 deliveries. When Kieron Pollard’s slog found the safe hands of Travis Head and Krunal retired hurt, Mumbai found themselves in dire straits at effectively 101/5. 

Rohit gets himself in

Meanwhile, at the other hand, Rohit was slowly playing himself in. Acknowledging that the situation placed an extra price on his wicket, he remained averse to taking risks during the early part of his innings and instead attempted to manoeuvre the field.

It was hard to comprehend why Kohli did not allow Yuzvendra Chahal to have a crack at Mumbai's captain who might have been vulnerable at the start of his innings. With the right-hander's weakness against leg-spinners coming to the fore this season, RCB missed a trick. Against the likes of Watson and Negi, he appeared quite comfortable at the crease. 

After settling in, Rohit was able to judge the pace of the surface much better. In a pivotal moment of the match, he plundered consecutive boundaries off left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary and managed to bring the required run-rate to a shade under ten as the last five overs loomed. 

The home team’s chase suffered a setback when Karn Sharma pulled a back of length delivery from Watson into deep square leg’s throat. The hard-hitting Hardik Pandya arrived into the cauldron of pressure.

Timing the chase to perfection

With 30 runs required from the last three overs, RCB needed to see the back of Rohit if they were to silence the buoyant crowd. The 30-year-old played the circumstances smartly by formulating to stay till the very end.

Upon getting six runs off the first five deliveries of Choudhary’s final over, Mumbai roared once again when Hardik sent the ball flying past the boundary. The maximum came exactly when his team needed it.

Rohit all but sealed the game for MI with one of the most breathtaking shots in the season thus far. After Sreenath Aravind went a long way in almost telegraphing that he was going to deliver a slower ball, he nonchalantly swept him for a six over square leg’s head.

The skipper brought up his half-century and retained the strike for the final over. With Kohli’s field placements protecting the boundary ropes, he and Hardik looked to take singles. At a stage when two runs were needed from the last two balls, Rohit fittingly scored the winning runs with his trademark scorching drive through the off-side.

He had timed a tough chase to perfection.

Watch Rohit Sharma's match-winning knock here

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