Lasith Malinga is a champion: Rohit Sharma

Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Rohit Sharma praised veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga who bowled a spectacular final over in the summit clash of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK), chasing 150, needed nine runs of the 20th over. However, Malinga used his experience to his advantage and bowled a brilliant over to help his team register a narrow one-run win in a thrilling final played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here on Sunday.

“Malinga is a champion, he has been doing it for many years for us,” said Rohit after the match.

The lanky Sri Lankan pacer had conceded 20 runs in his previous over. However, Rohit took the gamble and trusted the experienced Malinga to defend only nine runs with a well-settled Shane Watson at the crease. And Malinga responded to his captain’s call. He got Watson was run out and then trapped Shardul Thakur lbw on the final ball of the match to seal the deal for Mumbai Indians.

“I was thinking of Hardik (Pandya) for the final over, but I wanted to back someone who has been in that situation for us before, and Malinga has been there many times,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

MI coach Mahela Jayawardene also praised Rohit for his tactical brilliance on the field.

Mumbai almost had the game in the kitty when CSK skipper MS Dhoni was run out before Watson brought CSK back with a few lusty blows.

In the last five overs, Chennai needed 62 off 30 balls. Watson then hit Malinga for a hat-trick of fours to trim the equation to 42 off 24 balls.

There was no stopping the veteran Australian as he clobbered Krunal Pandya for three back-to-back sixes in the 18th over which costed Mumbai 20 runs.

However, Rohit kept his calm and handed the ball to his best bowler Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah bowled a brilliant penultimate over, sending Bravo (15) back in the hut after the latter gave Quinton de a simple catch behind the stumps. However, de Kock missed an easy gathering to gift Chennai four byes in the last ball of the over.

“I thought we had the game when MS got out, but then Watto started hitting. Some great decisions by Rohit, going back to experienced bowlers at the death. This is why we wanted to defend,” Jayawardene said.

Meanwhile, reflecting on the IPL 2019 campaign, Rohit said: “Throughout the tournament we played some good cricket which was the reason we qualified at the top.”

“We planned to split the tournament into two parts, every thing we did as a team, we got the rewards for them. We have a squad of 25 players, everyone came in at some stage and did the job; the support-staff as well. Our bowling in particular was excellent. At different stages in the game, the bowlers put their hands up and brought us back. Every bowler who got an opportunity put their hands up, took the responsibility and that’s why we got the rewards for it,” he added.