Rohit Sharma at the Eden Gardens on Saturday was a picture of contrast from Rohit Sharma at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. Four days ago,he was a bundle of anger and had kicked the stumps after the frustration got the better of him,as Chris Gayle hit an unbeaten 82 to make short work of Mumbai Indians’ total of 141. He was reprimanded and fined for his moment of madness. It isn’t clear if being admonished by match officials had an effect on Sharma. The defeat did have.
So,armed with determination and some of his finest timing,Sharma made amends for his duck against Bangalore. The outcome of his fine strokes resulted in Sharma scoring his maiden IPL century to help Mumbai post 182,a total the Kolkata Knight Riders fell short by 27 runs. In the process,Mumbai also broke Kolkata’s seven-match streak and considerably improved their chances of making the play-offs.
Sharma showed that when he puts his mind to it his shots,they can be as effective as they are good to look at. The IPL has been a tournament in which Sharma is a proven match-winner,first for Deccan Chargers and now for Mumbai Indians. However,lack of consistency was growing to become his bane. He was even asked a question on the eve of the game on why he wasn’t at his best. His reply was something to the effect of ‘I’ll let the bat talk,let others talk’. His unbeaten 109 off 60 was a fine repartee to the naysayers.
The hosts were never in the game after Harbhajan Singh won the toss and Sharma and Herschelle Gibbs,added 167 runs in an unbeaten second-wicket stand.
Gautam Gambhir,Kolkata’s in-form captain,was dismissed in the first over of their reply. Kolkata,seemingly,gave up and limped to 155/4. With three more matches left in the group phase,they are still favourites to finish in the top-two. But on Saturday,in spite of handsome contributions from Jacques Kallis and Yusuf Pathan,they fell well short of the asking rate.
Earlier,Sharma was in the zone. After reaching his maiden IPL hundred he tried a Dilscoop. Brett Lee was a little too quick for him on that occasion. But that was the only unorthodox shot he played during his innings. When he was returning to the pavilion,about 70,000 fans gave him a standing ovation.
Sharma showed that even in this format runs can be scored at a great pace by playing proper cricketing shots. The short ball didn’t trouble Sharma. Lee was pulled to the fence when he decided to use the bouncer against Sharma. Sunil Narine did trouble the Mumbai duo but found runs against the mystery spinner and Kolkata’s highest wicket-taker.
Gibbs turns back the clock
Gibbs,the veteran South African,having watched the bulk of the season from the dug-out,at last got an opportunity to show how ruthless he could be. In fact,he was the man to take the attack to the opposition,when he hit Lee for three consecutive boundaries in the second over of the innings. Then Rohit Sharma took charge of the innings.