Rohit Sharma. Photograph:( AFP )
'Malinga is a champion, he has been doing it for many years for us,' said Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma has explained why he picked Lasith Malinga over Hardik Pandya in the last over of the Indian Premier League 2019 final.
Rohit's side defeated Chennai by one run to lift the glorious trophy on Sunday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Chennai's Shane Watson almost took his team over the line. In the last over, Watson got run out which ended his knock of 59-ball 80. With two runs needed off the final ball, Lasith Malinga trapped Shardul Thakur leg-before to secure Mumbai's win by one run.
Rohit was ready to carry the cross had the decision to use Malinga backfired but had a gut feeling that the Sri Lankan will be able to pull it off as Mitchell Johnson did in the 2017 IPL final.
Malinga repaid the faith his skipper showed in him defending nine runs off the final over.
Rohit said, "Malinga is a champion, he has been doing it for many years for us. I was thinking of Hardik 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."
"When the decision comes off, it looks all nice. It can backfire also. At that stage, I wanted to go with experience and Malinga has been in that situation a million times," the four-time IPL champion skipper said at the post-match media interaction.
"I am learning in every game, every time I take the field. I have to credit the team as well, it is up to the boys to step up otherwise the captain is made to look foolish," Rohit added.
The situation was eerily similar to Rohit had faced in 2017 final when Mumbai beat the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiants by one run in another thrilling finish.
Then it was former Australian pacer Johnson, who defended 11 runs in the final over to pull-off a one-run victory.
It was that deja vu moment for the Rohit Sharma.
"I clearly remember when we won here in 2017, it was Mitchell Johnson who bowled that last over and defended only 10 (sic) runs. So yes, sometimes you've got to go with only instincts, sometimes you've got to go a little backwards and think what these experienced players have done and what they bring to the table," Rohit said.
(With inputs from PTI)