There were only two deliveries that didn’t result in runs when Rohit Sharma was on strike during the Mumbai Indians innings against Otago Volts. Off the first ball Sharma faced he attempted to cut left-arm spinner Michael Beer but didn’t connect as the ball kept lower than expected.
Five deliveries later Sharma hit the ball along the ground,back to Chinaman bowler Brad Hogg. Between these two deliveries,Sharma had scored 13 runs in four balls. This early phase of Sharma’s innings summed up his approach during Mumbai India’s chase of 150. Sharma wasn’t trying to hit every ball out of the Feroz Shah Kotla after Mumbai restricted Perth Scorchers to 149 for six,even if they had to win in 14.2 overs to qualify for the semis.
That task,of opening up,fell on opener Dwayne Smith at the top of the order,as the West Indian smashed 48 off 25,which included 41 off Mumbai’s first 53 runs. Sharma was prepared to knock the ball into the gaps for singles knowing fully well that if the bowlers erred even slightly he could dispatch the ball into the stands. When Ambati Rayudu smashed two consecutive sixes off left-arm spinner Ashton Agar to finish off the game,Sharma,the Mumbai Indians skipper,was unbeaten at the non-striker’s end on 51 off 24 balls. Mumbai chased down 150 in 13.2 overs,well within the stipulated limit to moved ahead of Volts on net runrate and qualify for the semifinal from Group A.
Smith provided the momentum at the top of the innings after Sachin Tendulkar was caught at deep square leg for a duck. However,when Smith was dismissed in the seventh over,Mumbai still needed another 78 runs off 48 balls if they were to progress. If Mumbai had lost another couple of wickets at that point,the pressure of having to score at over 10 an over to qualify could have resulted in a desperate attempt by the lower-order to bail the side out.
That Sharma was in fine touch was evident when he flicked left-arm medium pacer Joel Paris over deep fine leg for a six off the second ball of his innings. His next stroke was a streaky boundary past the slips which was an aberration in an otherwise well-crafted innings.
Once Smith was dismissed,Sharma hit three of his four sixes and two of his three fours. Agar was dispatched over the cover region,while the slog-sweep was used to hit Hogg for maximum. Paris suffered again in the eleventh over of the innings as Sharma hit one six and two fours as Mumbai knocked off 17 runs in six balls.
Kieron Pollard,who played second fiddle to Sharma,contributed by hitting left-arm medium pacer Jason Behrendorff for a six and a four as Mumbai added another 14 runs in the 12th over. When Pollard was dismissed,bowled by Hogg when attempting to hit a boundary,Mumbai were cruising as they needed just another 13 off 11 balls to move ahead of Otago on run-rate,a formality that Rayudu completed.
BRIEF SCORES: Perth Scorchers 149/6 (A Agar 35,S Whiteman 51; N Coulter-Nile 3/19,P Ojha 2/17) lost to Mumbai Indians 152/4 in 13.2 overs (D Smith 48,R Sharma 51*; B Hogg 2/26,J Behrendorff 2/31)