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Top Performer: The Hitman's Back

Last updated on: April 12, 2023 07:46 IST
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IMAGE: Rohit Sharma's muted celebrations after getting to the half-century mark for the first time in 25 IPL innings. Photograph: BCCI

The most successful captain in IPL history, Rohit Sharma has struggled to impose himself in recent editions.

Last season, he endured his worst run in 14 seasons when he failed to score a single half-century in 14 games, tallying just 268 runs as Mumbai Indians finished bottom of the 10-team standings.

This year too, Rohit and MI didn't have a great start. The captain managed just 22 runs in the first two games, while his team lost both their opening games -- against RCB and CSK.

But Rohit took the onus on himself to lead from the front with the bat against Delhi Capitals on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.

The MI bowlers had done exceedingly well to bowl out Delhi for 172, with the last five wickets falling in the space of 10 balls.

Getting 173 on a slow pitch offering assistance to the spinners was not an easy task.

IMAGE: Rohit dominated with the bat before his dismissal nearly cost Mumbai Indians. Photograph: BCCI

The experienced Rohit knew MI's best chance was in the Powerplay. He went on the attack right from the start, hitting Mukesh Kumar for a six and two fours in the opening over, with opening partner Ishan Kishan slamming Mustafizur Rahman for a hat-trick of boundaries in the next over.

It was Rohit at his aggressive best as he didn't spare South African speedster Anrich Nortje, carting him for a six and a four in the third over.

MI raced past the 50-run mark from just 4.2 overs. They were well placed on 68 for no loss in six overs as the visitors looked set to break their duck in IPL 2023.

But the Delhi spinners changed the script with disciplined bowling in the middle overs. Kishan was run out for 31 after putting on 71 runs for the opening wicket with Rohit.

Rohit picked a single off Kuldeep Yadav in the 12th over to race to his fifty from 29 balls to end his barren spell.

This was the first time in 25 innings that Rohit had gone past the 50-run mark.

IMAGE: Delhi's players celebrate after wicket-keeper Abhishek Porel took a stunning catch to send back Rohit. Photograph: BCCI

Interestingly, Rohit's celebrations on getting to his first IPL fifty in nearly two years were muted as he gently raised his bat towards his team-mates.

He stitched together another good partnership of 68 runs for the second wicket with Tilak Varma (41 from 29 balls) as the duo kept finding the boundaries at regular intervals to ensure MI didn't lose the momentum in the middle overs.

Varma smashed pacer Mukesh Kumar for a four and two sixes in the 16th over before he was caught at deep midwicket off the same bowler.

Mukesh dealt MI another blow off the very next ball as Suryakumar Yadav played his trademark pick up shot off his pads straight to Kuldeep at fine leg for fall for a first-ball duck.

Suryakumar's horror run with the bat continues. He has scored 15, 1 and 0 in the first three games of IPL 2023, after registering a hat-trick of golden ducks in the three-match ODI series against Australia last month.

Young Abhishek Porel showed he is a capable replacement for Rishabh Pant with the gloves as he took a sensational one-handed diving catch to dismiss Rohit.

Cameron Green and Tim David held their nerve in a pressure situation to steer their team to victory off the last ball of the match.

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