Hardik Pandya, whose late cameo of 37 not out guided Mumbai Indians to a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday, wanted to prove himself a point with the bat and ball, his captain Rohit Sharma said.
“His [Hardik’s] hitting has been helping the team and him as well to move forward. This is something he wanted to do because he didn’t have a lot of time before coming to the IPL,” Rohit said after the match.
“So he wanted to prove a point with bat and ball, to himself than anyone else. The way he is hitting it gives us confidence as a team that there is someone who can hit that well at the end and win crucial games.”
Talking about veteran Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga who took four wickets to restrict RCB to 171 for 7, Rohit said, “Lasith’s performance matters a lot to us. We missed him for a few games. His form is very critical for Mumbai. Trust me, with all that he has done over the years, bowling at the death at the Wankhede is very difficult.
“Credit goes to the bowlers in general for restricting a good RCB batting line-up to 170 odd.”
On the Wankhede track, Rohit said, “To be honest, I still haven’t figured out the pitch here this season. Normally it’s safe to chase here, but today no one expected it to play this way.
“If the pitch plays like that I don’t want to chase,” he said with a smile.
Hardik, on his part, praised openers Rohit (28) and Quinton de Kock (40) for the the start the team got in the run chase.
“Hats off to both the openers. It was not easy to bat on this wicket but they made it easy for us in the end. I felt RCB didn’t bowl well in the Powereplay and that’s where I thought they lost the game,” he said.
“We began well and had the bowlers who hit the deck hard and got some purchase off the wicket. The way the wicket started playing, even AB found it difficult but they both [AB and Moeen] played well.
“It’s always good to win at home. We are on the road and hopefully we can continue the winning momentum.”
RCB and India captain Virat Kohli defended the move to use left-arm spinner Pawan Negi in the 19th over from which Hardik smashed 22 runs to end the match.
“At the end, we had to take the risk with the left-arm spinner, with two right-handed batsmen. Giving pace was risky, especially with a bit of dew. Unfortunately, it didn’t come off,” said Kohli.
“We played a pretty good game I guess. With the ball, we weren’t that great in the first six overs but the guys fought hard in the middle overs and came back well.
“We just have to enjoy ourselves, play the way we did in the last two games. Need to keep our composure under pressure. Need to take half-chances.”