As a great leader you have to set an example and lead from the front when things are going against your team. After losing six consecutive matches in the UAE, including five in 2014, Mumbai Indians desperately wanted to arrest the slide and break the jinx in the Gulf nation.
The defending champions needed some inspiration and Rohit Sharma rose to the occasion with a spectacular knock of 80 to pilot MI to a strong total of 195 for 5 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The holders were off to a losing start after CSK beat them by five wickets in the inaugural clash. To dismiss the tag of slow starters, MI were searching for a dream start and they got in the form of Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav.
Sharma played a captain’s knock and blasted 80 to take his team near the 200-run mark. Opening the innings, Sharma was there at the centre till 18th over. He cracked three fours and six sweetly-timed sixes in his 54-ball stay at the pitch.
He was involved in a big partnership of 90 runs with Yadav, which provided the right platform. The No. 3 batsman was more aggressive of the two and unfortunate to miss his fifty by just three runs. The 30-year-old Mumbai Ranji team skipper slammed 47 off just 28 balls to give ideal momentum to his side. He was unlucky to get run out while taking a second run for his captain.
It was a day of records for Sharma as he became the highest run-scorer against KKR. The 33-year-old surpassed David Warner (829 runs) to become the top scorer against the Knights. The flamboyant opener had started the tourney five runs (824) away from the record. He opened his account with a six off Sandeep Warrier. He has one hundred and five half-centuries versus KKR over the last 12 years.
Sharma achieved one more landmark during the innings when he hit 200 sixes in the IPL. Only Mahendra Singh Dhoni is ahead of him as far as sixes is concerned in the IPL.
In the last five overs, MI could muster 48 runs despite plenty of wickets in hand. Sourabh Tiwari (21), Hardik Pandya (18) and Kieron Pollard (13 not out) tried hard but could not take their side beyond the 200-run mark.
Mumbai Indians 195 for 5 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 80, Suryakumar Yadav 47, Sourabh Tiwari 21, Hardik Pandya 18, Kieron Pollard 13 not out; Shivam Mavi 2-32, Andre Russel 1-17, Sunil Narine 1-22) vs KKR