Rohit Sharma loves two grounds- the Wankhede, which is the home ground of the Mumbai Indians and the Eden Gardens. His performance in beautiful Eden Gardens in the City of Joy has always been good. He scored his first century in this ground on his Test debut. He also scored 264 runs against Sri Lanka in a One-Day match here. He even loves playing T20 here. His IPL records show 418 runs in 11 T20 innings with a strike rate of 146.67 and an average of 52.25.
In this IPL, the defending champions Mumbai have had a hard time surviving. From here on, they will have to win each game convincingly, keeping their net run rate high enough to be considered for the playoffs in case of a tie. If other teams have a dwindling performance, they could actually make it to the semis and play like champs.
The pressure is mounting on the team every day. They are sitting on the fifth spot of the points table with 8 points. They have half the points as top-seeded Sunrisers Hyderabad. While Chennai Super Kings have 14 points, troubled teams like Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders have 12 and 10 points respectively. To move past these teams, the Indians have to depend on a miracle, which could be their very own skipper Rohit Sharma.
He has made 231 runs in the game so far, which doesn’t look like an admirable record for a player of his repute. His only shining glory came in a match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore where he scored an unbeaten 94 runs. The rest of the innings have been less than spectacular, even disappointing. In such high-pressure situation, his mettle as a player and as a captain could be tested.
JP Duminy believes that Sharma should be judged on the basis of the knocks he has played under pressure. He said, “Rohit’s performance hasn’t been as high as he has set the standard but for me it’s about performances when the team has needed it… He stood up when the team needed it.”
He went on to say, “Those are crucial moments from a team’s point of view. When adversities hit the team, that’s when leadership mentality comes through. That’s when the team follows you when they see that our captain is standing up so I’ve got to follow him.”
The team will also be looking forward to Hardik Pandya, whose performance against KKR last time helped the team register a very important win. Duminy called Pandya an ‘exceptional talent’, suggesting that he too, does really well under pressure situations. He said that under the current circumstances, these players can stand up and bring a cheer to their fans.
In the past 21 contests between the two teams, the Indians have won 17. The record is even better at Eden Gardens as Mumbai has beaten KKR six out of eight times in their home ground. KKR, which is just two points ahead of Mumbai will want to retain their lead so their position at the playoffs remains unchallenged.