It was a day when Pawan Negi could do no wrong. The left-arm spinner and batsman contributed in both departments to be Royal Challengers Bangalore’s standout player against Mumbai Indians. But Negi received little support from his teammates and Royal Challengers Bangalore as a result crashed to their eighth defeat in 11 matches. (MI vs RCB Highlights)
After hitting a quickfire 32 off 23 balls to help Royal Challengers Bangalore put up a fighting total of 162/8, Pawan Negi gave nothing away with the ball, finishing his quota of four overs for 17 runs with two big wickets. (MI vs RCB Scorecard)
Captain Rohit Sharma however used all his experience to soak in the pressure to shepherd Mumbai Indians chase and seal their eighth win with an unbeaten 56 off 37 balls. With 16 points, Mumbai Indians go top of the table and are almost through to the playoffs.
It was a superbly controlled innings from Rohit. Building on the platform laid by Jos Buttler and Nitish Rana’s 61-run first-wicket stand, Rohit first saw off dangerman Negi’s spell.
When 59 runs were needed off 36 balls, Sharma took charge of the chase with two fours off left-arm pacer Aniket Choudhary’s over.
Even as wickets fell at the other end, Rohit stayed calm. His move to promote Karn Sharma ahead of Hardik Pandya paid off and the two put on 29 runs in three overs, with Rohit alone scoring 18.
To the delight of his home crowd, the Mumbai Indians captain milked the RCB bowlers by playing copy-book strokes, with the backfoot punch through extra cover off Shane Watson in the 17th over being the pick of his six boundaries.
The equation was 18 runs off 12 balls when Rohit played his first improvised stroke of the innings --- moving to the off side and slog-sweeping Sreenath Aravind for a six. It was the knockout punch for RCB as Mumbai Indians were left with only seven runs to get in six balls. Rohit sealed the win with a four off the penultimate delivery.
Earlier, Negi played the kind of role he was expected to by his team to give impetus to their innings against hosts Mumbai Indians.
But for Negi’s 54-run partnership with Kedar Jadhav (28 off 22 balls) for the sixth wicket, it was a similar story for the Bangalore side with none of the top order batsmen capitalising on the starts they got.
While bowling, Negi struck with his third ball when he had the dangerous Jos Buttler caught at extra cover to end a 61-run partnership between Buttler and Nitish Rana.
In his next over, he had Rana caught at the fence to have two wickets in six balls for one run. In two overs, Negi had two wickets for eight runs. Most importantly, he had managed to keep Rohit quiet. The left-arm spinner restricted Rohit and Kieron Pollard to just four runs in his third over and Mumbai Indians were 90 for three after 12 overs. The three-over spell had left Mumbai Indians with an equation of 93 off 48 balls. But for Rohit’s assured innings, Negi could have made it tougher for Mumbai Indians.