IPL 2021: Rohit delighted with MI win in low-scoring game Filed on April 13, 2021
Mumbai Indians players celebrate after winning the match against Kolkata Knight Riders. (BCCI)

We can take a lot of confidence from this game. There were lots of positives, captain Rohit said

You don’t become the most successful team in a tournament as intensely competitive as the Indian Premier League by not knowing how to win ugly.

Mumbai Indians, the five-time IPL champions, have a history of winning low-scoring affairs.

And it was that ability to stage a fightback from the most hopeless of positions that came to the fore again on Tuesday night as they beat the Kolkata Knight Riders by 10 runs in Chennai.

A team that have built a culture of winning tight matches, Mumbai Indians never stopped believing even after the Knight Riders, chasing 153, had raced to 72 for no loss in 8.4 overs, with openers Nitish Rana (57, 47 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes) and Shubman Gill (33, 24 balls, 5 fours and 1 six) looking in fabulous touch.

Having suffered at the hands of the KKR spinners in their own innings, the Rohit Sharma-led team turned to leggie Rahul Chahar in the ninth over of the innings for a breakthrough.

Chahar (4/27) struck in his first over, deceiving Gill in the air before taking one wicket each from his next three overs.

The 21-year-old spinner ended his magical spell by deceiving Gill’s partner, Rana, with a short ball in the final ball of the 16th over, giving Quinton de Kock a simple stumping chance and putting the Mumbai Indians firmly back in the hunt.

But it was not about Chahar alone. Krunal Pandya (4-0-13-1) was outstanding too, never allowing the free-flowing KKR batsmen to free their arms.

Then Jasprit Bumrah (0/28) and Trent Boult (2/27) brought all their experience and class in the final two overs.

The two fast bowlers left Dinesh Karthik (8 not out off 11 balls) and Andre Russell (9 off 15 balls), who had taken five wickets in the KKR innings, clueless with their change of pace and teasing length to help the champions earn their first points of the season.

“It was a great fightback considering where the game was while they were batting. Anyone who came to bowl at different stages wanted to put their hands up and do something for the team. We can take a lot of confidence from this game. There were lots of positives,” captain Rohit said after the match.

“The way KKR started, they batted brilliantly in the first six overs. But once the powerplay was gone, the way Rahul came and got wickets was crucial. And Krunal at the end was also crucial. I can praise all the bowlers, honestly. Good signs for the team moving forward.”

Earlier, the Kolkata bowlers also fought back brilliantly after Suryakumar Yadav (56, 36 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes) produced a fantastic exhibition of shot-making to lay the foundation for a big total.

But captain Eoin Morgan’s clever bowling changes, backed by their bowlers’ nagging line, restricted the Mumbai Indians to 152 all out with Russell (5/15) taking three wickets in the final over of the innings.

Morgan (7), however, was distraught after he blew his chance as a batter to help the team reap the rewards of their bowlers’ hard work, with the England World Cup-winning captain becoming one of the four victims of Chahar.

“Yeah, it's disappointing. A lot of the time we played good cricket, certainly the first half and a majority of the chase. We made mistakes, hopefully we can iron them out,” Morgan said.

And Chahar, who deservedly won the man-of-the-match, said he was confident of helping his team defend a small total on a pitch that had something for the spinners.

“They had started well, I knew that on this pitch it was the spinners who had to do it. I've played 2-3 seasons so I had confidence to get Gill out, and I know him since the U-19 days and I knew what to do,” said Chahar, who also had the dangerous Rahul Tripathi (5) caught behind with a beautiful leg-spinner.

“My strength is to turn it quickly, at speeds of 90kph. I think Tripathi's caught behind was my favourite wicket,” said Chahar before revealing how he plotted Rana’s downfall.

“I also had an idea that Rana would give me a chance and so I pushed a flipper outside off.”


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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