Rohit Sharma surpasses MS Dhoni as leading Indian six-hitter in IPL history
17 Apr 2021
The Sunrisers Hyderabad failed to break the chain of losing games from positions of strength against the Mumbai Indians and slipped to a third consecutive loss in the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League.
With the win, the Mumbai Indians surged to the top of the points table while the Sunrisers nosedived to the bottom and will have a lot of catching up to do to put their campaign back on track.
There is no end of problems for the Sunrisers with their stronger suit bowling failing to check opposition sides getting scores just around the par score while the batting unit has not come to terms with the slow pitch at Chepauk.
Here, we shall decipher the best and the worst performances of the night.
The Mumbai Indians have a daunting batting line up right from the top of the lower order. However, their dominance has been tamed by bowlers using cutters and lack of pace on very slow pitches in Chennai.
Their five and six have been Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya for the last few seasons and the duo has been the most prolific six hitters in the final phase of the game.
The Mumbai side had struggled to get a rapid-fire finish from both of them in their last two games this season. The struggle prompted a change of batting order for both Pollard and Pandya’s batting position interchanged.
The big man from Trinidad and Tobago walked out to bat when Mumbai were struggling to get going at 98/3 from 14 overs. They needed a big finish from their lower-order batsmen to get to a pars core they could defend.
Pollard started very slowly as the Sunrisers had an over off Rashid against him. There was no sense of rush in his approach as he was aware of Rashid Khan being the most potent threat from the men in orange.
Once Rashid was done, Pollard as at it from the 17th over when Rashid’s countryman Mujeeb Ur Rahman offered him a long hop. Pollard knew Mujeeb would not be as mentally strong as Rashid and he was ready to pounce on the spinner’s nerves. The long hop was dispatched way over the midwicket boundary for the biggest six of the tournament so far (105 metres).
However, the Mumbai Indians were still short of where they would have liked to be after being only two wickets down by the 15th over.
Pandya failed once again with the bat and the onus was on Pollard to take Mumbai to the best possible position. They were 138 at 19.4 overs and Pollard dispatched the last two deliveries of Bhuvneshwar Kumar with absolute disdain to touch the 150-run mark.
Pollard was assigned the role of the sixth bowler as Hardik Pandya has not been bowling this IPL season and he was at it once again with the bowl as well.
The pace of Adam Milne travelled with the new ball and Rohit needed someone to control one end to enforcing aggressive shots against the leg spinner Rahul Chahar. Pollard squeezed his two overs for only 10 runs and Chahar reaped a massive advantage out of it to take a three-wicket haul once again.
Being the premier spinner for a champion side like the Mumbai Indians warrants some respect and Chahar has earned it with all the guile and deception. The deception however has not come in the form of variations in the bowling but in the execution of his tactics.
In a tight game against the Kolkata Knight Riders, he was hit for big six by Shubman Gill. He tossed up the next ball as well and Gill was lured into playing a shot that led to his downfall.
Later while interacting with the host broadcaster, he said that he has been playing with Gill for a long time and hence knew that the right-hander could not hit sixes one after the other and hence played with his ability.
His role was instrumental in the Mumbai defending a mediocre total against the Knight Riders but the Mumbai needed to come good once again on a similar kind of pitch while defending almost an equivalent score.
He was introduced just one over after the departure of Jonny Bairstow, who was threatening to take the game away from Mumbai.
His first victim was Manish Pandey, who has come under the scanner for playing slow innings in the last two games. He has been quite defensive, especially against spinners and Chahar, maybe, knew once again that Pandey would look to dominate him to get going strongly.
A flighted delivery around the off stump tempted Pandey into playing an uppish shot and the man with a bucket hand Pollard did not miss the catch to peg the Sunrisers back.
He was challenged by Warner with a big six on the very first ball of his next over, but the leg spinner recovered quickly to make it only an 11-run over after conceding six runs on the first ball.
Squeezing Virat Singh and Vijay Shankar for runs from there on in, Chahar made sure that the batsmen had to do something drastic to break the shackles. The pressure became enormous for Singh to handle and he attempted to hit his way out of the trouble. But, Chahar was smarter than him and bowled googly pitching on length to deny him any room to swing his arms.
Just three balls later, the young Abhishek Sharma who was brought in the playing XI in hope of quickfire innings in the late middle order, perished in call of duty as Chahar was slower through the air and he could not get enough power behind his slog sweep.
102/3 became 105/5 and the required rate jumped to 9.4 runs per over from 8.17 at the end of the previous over and the job of squeezing the Sunrisers middle order was well done by Chahar once again.
Chahar had said that Rohit Sharma trusts his abilities more than he does on himself at the time, and with two back to back match-turning spells, the leg spinner from Rajasthan is proving he deserves every bit of trust and backing from his skipper.
Jonny Bairstow was coming into the 14th edition of the IPL on the back of the superlative form in the white-ball cricket for England. However, his exclusion from the team last year and Wriddhiman Saha’s success with the bat meant the Yorkshireman had to start in the middle order.
He has aced that slot as well for the England T20 team and hence, did not look out of depth in the middle order as well.
But, as Saha struggled to keep up the pace at the top of the order, the Sunrises had no option but to switch to the dazzling duo of Bairstow-Warner for the game against the Mumbai Indians.
The walk he took along with Warner while coming to bat must have sounded like a sound of redemption for the right-hander.
The task was cut out though in the pursuit of 151 runs on a sluggish pitch that was not going to get any better with each passing over.
He could face only two deliveries out of the first 12 bowled by Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah. Warner could not get going and the Sunrisers were tottering at just five from the first couple of overs.
The course of the game needed to change and Bairstow took it upon himself to bring that upon the Mumbai bowling line up.
Boult missed his line on two occasions and Bairstow made sure to make him pay for that. The Kiwi then switched to round the wicket to cramp him for the room, but Bairstow stands at the leg side of the ball all the time only to allow his hands to go freely at the ball.
Boult put up a fuller ball in his slot, and the right-hander put that in the Sunrisers dugout to send a string gesture that things were under control till he was at the crease. A frustrated Boult tried a yorker at the stump but executed a full toss and Bairstow was in the mood to stabilise the innings after three consecutive shots to plunder him an 18-run over.
Rohit brought the pace of Adam Milne that allowed Warner some breathing space but Bairstow was at the forefront once again. The New Zealander tried to test his backfoot game and got a top edge of his bat in an attempt to pull. A ferocious bat speed carried the top edge once again towards the Sunrisers camp.
Milne tried to play smart and pitched the next ball to see if Bairstow is up to the task. To his dismay, the next ball was dispatched over his head for a six and the Sunrisers’ chase was underway by the fourth over although it started timidly.
It needed Rohit to bring Bumrah to check Bairstow’s juggernaut and his bad luck forced him back to the pavilion.
The chase derailed after his downfall but on a pitch where batsmen like Warner, de Kock and Pollard struggled for timing, his 22-ball 43 gave the Sunrisers a perfect start in pursuit of 151 runs.
Like Bairstow, Bhuvneshwar Kumar too was at the top of his game in the ODI and the T20I series that preceded the IPL. He was prolific for India with both the new and old ball to help the men in blue win both the series against a very strong England side.
His return from injury and excellent rhythm with the ball had raised expectations of him for the Sunrisers in the IPL. He was ruled out very early in the last season and the Sunrisers were banking on him to bring his international form to the IPL.
However, his returns in the three games for the Sunrisers have been abysmal, to say the least. He has been searching for swing with the new ball while the cutters and knuckle ball have not pitched on perfect line and lengths.
He was coming into the game against the Mumbai Indians with two middling performances and needed course correction as soon as possible. He started well in the first over but de Kock was at him from the word go.
He started his second over on a better line against Rohit Sharma but could not find a sparkling delivery to provide the Sunrisers with an early breakthrough that has been his hallmark.
The first two overs yielded 17 runs for the Mumbai Indians and Warner could only hope he would come handy in the latter part of the innings after digesting another failure with the new ball.
The success did not come in the end over as well and instead, the two sixes he conceded against Pollard on the last two deliveries of the innings turned out to be the difference between the two sides at the end of the game.
In the three games, he has played this season, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has picked up only two wickets at an abysmal average of 60 runs per wicket and at an economy rate of 10 runs per over which is so unbecoming for a bowler of his pedigree.
Ishan Kishan appears to have weighed down by the expectations of him after a browbeating IPL season with the bat last year. He was the batsman with the mist number of sixes and his domination of the bowling attack from number position were not allowing oppositions to get in the game at any phase.
His prowess and power game caught the eyes of national selector who were on the lookout for an enforcer in the middle order. Sanju Samson’s inconsistency played right into Kishan’s hand and the left-hander announced his arrival on the big stage replicating his IPL performance on the international stage.
Coming into the ongoing edition of the IPL, Kishan has the form, the confidence to take his game one level up from where he was in the last season.
However, the numbers have started to dry up for the man from Jharkhand. He was unlucky to find a fielder at fine leg on a nearly-perfectly executed pull shot in the game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
However, what would hurt him more will be the innings against the Sunrisers. The pitch was slow at Chepauk and his partners were struggling to get going against spinners.
Kishan has played a lot of domestic matches but he appeared to be all at sea against Rashid Khan and could barely manage to rotate strike. The match situation against the Sunrisers was the perfect one for a batsman like Kishan to stamp his authority on the game. He could have shown a lot more intent than he showed albeit it was fraught with risk.
But, what good is an enforcer if he can’t throw caution to the wind and attempt to change the course of a match?
Maybe, he understood his presence at the crease was more important than attacking shots and that runs can come later. But, none of that worked for him and had it not been for a marvellous innings from Pollard, Mumbai would have been defending a lot lesser target on the board.
The win would be pleasing for the Mumbai Indians as they finally cracked the code of Chepauk. On the other hand, the Sunrisers have a lot of soul-searching to do before their next game.
Before the game, both the think tanks had suggested they were not expecting any different pitch and conditions than the ones they had played in the games before the one on Saturday night, and that they were well-prepared with hard lessons from previous games.
In the end, though, only the Mumbai Indians could translate their learning into performances while the Sunrisers faltered right from picking the playing Xi to execution of tactics on the field.