Rohit Sharma played under pressure before, but even then he would have felt the heat when he walked out to bat on Tuesday night at the Wankhede Stadium.
Having lost their first three games in IPL-11, the Mumbai Indians had started off on the worst-possible note in their fourth outing, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Scorecard | As it happened
After just two balls, MI found themselves reduced to 0/2 as Umesh Yadav unleashed two cracking deliveries to shatter the stumps of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan.
Struggling with poor form, which saw him manage just 44 runs in three games, the MI skipper found himself facing the hattrick ball first up. He somehow dug that out.
In the next over, Evin Lewis pulled Chris Woakes into the Sunil Gavaskar Stand behind deep square leg for a huge six, and perhaps it was the sort of a shot which generated the spark of a fightback in Rohit.
With typical elegance, he cover drove the ball beautifully for his first four in that same over, and the duo then launched a ferocious counter-attack on the RCB bowlers, adding 108 for the third wicket in 66 balls to completely swing the momentum of the match.
Levis left in the 12th over after blasting a power-packed 42-ball 65 that included five fours and six huge sixes, but having rediscovered his form, Rohit made RCB pay.
Displaying the kind of ruthless strokeplay which makes him one of the most dangerous limited overs batsmen in the world, Rohit scored 94 (52b, 10×4, 5×6) in the final over.
Interestingly, both completed their half-century in 32 balls, but while it was Levis’ first for MI, it was Rohit’s landmark 50th in T20 cricket.
In a questionable decision, MI sent Krunal Pandya ahead of big-hitters Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya, but the latter didn’t miss out on providing the final flourish with a quick-fire 17 (5b, 2×6, 1×4) which ensured that the hosts finished at an imposing 213 for six.
Chasing 214, RCB skipper Virat Kohli found himself playing the lone ranger, as he scored a gallant, unbeaten 92 (62b, 7×4, 4×6) even as the others around him seemed to be in no mood to fight.>