IPL 2020: Rohit Sharma pulls Kolkata apart as Mumbai Indians canter to victory

Mumbai captain scores 80 from 54 balls as Knight Riders fail to catch fire

Rohit Sharma captain of Mumbai Indians  plays a shot
 during match 5 of season 13 of Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians held at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi  in the United Arab Emirates on the 23rd September 2020.  Photo by: Pankaj Nangia  / Sportzpics for BCCI
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Of all the things IPL fans have craved during the lockdown blackout, the Rohit Sharma pull shot will have been right near the very top of the list.

Yes, Andre Russell’s power-hitting. Jasprit Bumrah’s death-over wizardry, sure. The coolness of Jofra Archer.

Even the anticipation that comes with Ravichandran Ashwin stepping in to bowl when there is a batsman with itchy feet at the non-striker’s end.

But there are few things, anywhere in the sport, as easy on the eye as Rohit picking up a short of a length delivery and dispatching it over the mid-wicket fence.

Mumbai Indians’ captain might have arrived in Abu Dhabi for this delayed season of IPL a tick over his ideal fighting weight, but he has quickly found his feet at the batting crease.

And he gave the vast television audience exactly what they wanted during the course of his innings of 80 from 54 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi.

It included six sixes, the majority of which were crisp pulls on to the grass banks square of the wicket at the Zayed Cricket Stadium. It took him past an IPL career haul of 200 sixes in the process.

It set his side up for a comfortable 49-run win over a Kolkata side who have suffered much pain at the hands of Mumbai over the years in this competition.

Rohit shared a stand for the second wicket with Suryakumar Yadav worth 90 in a little over nine overs.

Kolkata were out of the game from that point onwards. Even their $2.1 million signing Pat Cummins was unable to stem the flow of Mumbai runs.

In fact, the Australian suffered a chastening start to this event in the UAE, as he was taken for 49 in just three overs.

After Mumbai signed for 195-5 from their 20 overs, Kolkata were never in the chase.

They have enviable firepower in their middle order, in the form of Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell.

But the task was too large, and the bowlers too skillful, even for them.

Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, James Pattinson and Rahul Chahar took two wickets apiece as Kolkata were kept to 146-9.

The landslide win was a fine way for Kieron Pollard to celebrate playing his 150th match for Mumbai.

The Trinidadian was not especially needed with the bat, but he did take a catch to remove Shubman Gill, and picked up his first wicket since the 2015 IPL.

“Some people might want to play it down, but over the years, you watch the amount of auctions that are taking place,” Pollard said in a TV interview between innings.

“Guys are moving from team to team. For me to be able to stay at Mumbai for 11 years and play 150 games, me being a guy from a small town in Trinidad, I think it’s a great achievement for me and my family.”