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IPL 2021: Rohit Sharma heaps praise on Hardik Pandya after MI defeat PBKS
- MI defeated PBKS by 6 wickets in Abu Dhabi
- Hardik Pandya scored an unbeaten 40
- With the win, MI have jumped to fifth place in the table
Rohit Sharma heaped praise on Hardik Pandya, saying "the way he understood the situation was very crucial from a team's perspective" after Mumbai Indians (MI) defeated Punjab Kings (PBKS) by six wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 on Tuesday.
The five-time champions, MI, struggled during their chase of a mere target of 136 against PBKS in Abu Dhabi. They lost Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav inside powerplay overs and were 16 for 2 in 3.4 overs. Quinton de Kock and Saurabh Tiwary shared a crucial 45-run stand for the third wicket to bring MI's chase back on the track. After their dismissals, Hardik and Kieron Pollard took the charge and finished the job for Mumbai.
After the six-wicket win at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, MI skipper Rohit admitted that his side did not play to their "potential" but he also praised Hardik, Pollard and Tiwary for their vital contributions against PBKS.
"We do agree that we didn't play to our potential, but it's a long tournament and we need to stick to our plans and reading the situations is very important and we can take a lot of confidence from that. It is important not to lose the guard. The way he (Hardik) understood the situation was very crucial from a team's perspective, it's important for him to spend the time in the middle as he's coming back from an injury," Rohit said at the post-match presentation.
Hardik struck four fours and two sixes in his match-winning knock of 40 off 30 balls.
Speaking about MI's decision to drop Ishan Kishan and instead pick Tiwary, Rohit said," It's a tough call (on dropping Ishan Kishan) and he seems very confident and the reply you get from him was very boosting as well. Saurabh has played the perfect role today and he's done well to nudge around in the middle overs. We are going to back him (Ishan Kishan) as he's a very important player for us. The ball was coming off when we started off and the grass is coming off the surface in the middle overs and we need to adjust to the conditions."
Pollard, who was named the Player of the Match, produced a decisive all-round performance on Tuesday. He picked up two wickets in the first innings before scoring a seven-ball 15. By bagging those two scalps, Pollard became the first ever cricketer to aggregate 10,000 runs and 300 wickets in T20 cricket. His victims of the day were PBKS captain KL Rahul and fellow West Indian Chris Gayle.
"He (Pollard) is one of our key players. He has been a crucial part of MI for so many years. He will be happy with taking the 'Man of the Match' for his bowling performance," added Rohit in the interview.
The win over PBKS on Tuesday was MI's first victory in IPL 2021's UAE leg. Before this game, the reigning champions had suffered three losses on the trot – vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
With 10 points, MI are currently placed fifth in the IPL 2021 table, while PBKS are one place below them.