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The return of Rohit

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Rohit_Sharma_India_cricket_talentRohit Sharma was back in time for the IPL and this provided a huge boost to Mumbai Indians. Sharma was a sensation for Mumbai in the previous editions and turned games around on his own. There was hope of something even better in this edition. Mumbai had a tough task in washing away last season’s disappointment and Sharma was going to be the key.

In the first game of the season against Rising Pune Supergiant, Mumbai Indians had a good start but lost their way in the middle as Rohit failed to add much. As a result, one of the pre-tournament favourites were pushed to ground in their first game itself. But just as big teams do, Mumbai Indians bounced back and brought the high flying Kolkata Knight Riders to ground. But even in this win, Sharma had faltered and couldn’t even get past 5 for 2nd game running. 

While Sharma’s form was worrying, the other, younger players stepping up and taking responsibility was a big positive and something the Mumbai management could smile about. Over to the next game against the Sunrisers, there was hope of Rohit getting back as Hyderabad offered a good batting wicket with ball coming onto the bat, something Rohit relishes. But yet again, Rohit fell early and was trapped by Rashid Khan for 4.

Mumbai’s next game was at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, a venue known to host run fests. But this Chinnaswamy wicket was different. It was a bit on the slower side and held the ball. This was already ominous signs for a struggling Rohit Sharma and as it panned out, it went from bad to worse for him as he failed to even get off the mark. 

 

There were 2 striking similarities in all of Sharma’s dismissals so far. While he failed to get past 5 runs in each of these 4 innings, he fell to spinners and yet again, the debate of his best batting position was rife. While it was a given that Sharma’s presence in the middle order gives them stability, him finding tough to get going against the slower bowlers was a worry and something that the Mumbai Indians’ think tank had to spend time upon.

His batting order didn’t see any change but Sharma’s form took a bit of a turn in the match against The Gujarat Lions. Chasing a stiff target of 178, Mumbai got off to a great start but suddenly lost way in the middle as Buttler and Rana were sent packing. It was now over to Sharma to steady the innings and keep up with the pace of the chase. Sharma played a brilliant knock and ensured Mumbai went over the line. There was a sense of further belief in this Mumbai Indians side now and with their captain seemingly back to run-scoring ways, it looked upwards for them.

But it didn’t last long as Rohit fell prey to leg spinner Amit Mishra on a wicket where seamers were wreaking havoc and his problems seemed to be returning. This could have been forgiven for the pitch didn’t let any batsman really get away. And Sharma did ensure that it was just a little stutter on the way as he struck an envious 58 against the Rising Pune Supergiant in the reverse fixture with his only slight area of worry being him not being able to pull it off despite being in the driver’s seat. But then you got to give to Stokes for a marvelous spell where he hit the right lines and lengths consistently without fail.

Sharma’s biggest success though was yet to come. Chasing a mediocre total of 163, Mumbai Indians erred their way and it was down to Sharma to turn it around and take Mumbai through. Sharma under extreme pressure did just that and his 50 ensured Mumbai won the game.

While Mumbai were top and irrespective would be in the top 2, the big positive for them was not just their captain getting amongst the runs, but also winning the game on his own; something that had gone missing from his game this season. Another great feature about Rohit’s batting this season has been his ability to make his starts count. Whenever Sharma has spent some time at the crease he has either remained Not Out at the end or scored a 50. Ask an expert and he would tell you, it’s a great sign for any batsman.

In the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rohit’s return to match winning form is easily Mumbai Indians’ biggest positive this season.

This season, Mumbai Indians have thrived on each individual contributing to the cause and has seen one hero or the other, quite varied, emerge in each of their games. But with Rohit emerging as one too, this could be a huge push for them. With him leading from the front, this team could go all the way.

 

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