Mumbai Indians badly needed a win to get off the blocks in the UAE leg of IPL 2021. And the opportunity presented itself in the form of a game against a wayward Punjab Kings.
And they got it and how!
When Rohit called right at the toss and put Punjab in to bat, his bowlers vindicated his decision.
An astute captain, Rohit gave the ball to Krunal Pandya at the start of the Punjab innings and in his first three overs the left-arm spinner gave only 16 runs while dismissing opener Mandeep Singh inside the Powerplay overs.
Medium pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile bowled economically before Kieron Pollard struck twice with the big wickets of Chris Gayle and K L Rahul to get his 300th IPL wicket and dent the Punjab batting.
Be it Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar or Coulter-Nile, all of them bowled economically. The only over that was expensive was the 15th, when Aiden Markram got stuck into Trent Boult, taking him out for 15 runs.
Although Markram and Deepak Hooda put on a 50-run stand, a slow start meant they were always trying to play catch up and eventually Bumrah and Coulter-Nile bowled well to allow Punjab to put 135 for 6 on the board.
Once Mumbai came out to chase, they struggled a bit as Ravi Bishnoi took out Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav off consecutive balls in the fourth over.
But once Saurabh Tiwary joined Quinton de Kock in the middle, the runs kept flowing. They kept the scoreboard ticking with the occasional boundary or six to keep the run rate in check.
After both batters were dismissed, out came Hardik Pandya and Pollard who seem to bring out their best when batting together. <?p>
With 40 needed off the last 4 overs, Hardik went after Mohammed Shami in the 17th over. Then Pollard took on Arshdeep Singh in the 18th before Shami was taken to the cleaners with Hardik (40 not out) taking Mumbai home.
Pollard's early double strike and then lack of runs, especially after Markram's wicket cost Punjab dearly.
And in the MI innings, Tiwary timed his innings to perfection, scoring in singles and twos before taking on the bowlers when wanted, then Hardik and Pollard finishing it off in style.