His fluent half century made the chase look effortless in the IPL final but Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma said it was his bowlers who set up the crushing win over Delhi Capitals, which fetched an unprecedented fifth title for the side. New Zealand pacer Trent Boult snared the dangerous Marcus Stoinis and Ajinkya Rahane while off-spinner Jayant Yadav dismissed the in-form Shikhar Dhawan to leave Delhi Capitals reeling at 22 for three, early setbacks from which the team couldn't quite recover.
"We got a wicket on the first ball and we got a couple more after that. We just wanted to keep the pressure, the execution was perfect from all the bowlers," Rohit said at the post-match press conference. Set a target of 157, Mumbai sailed home in 18.4 overs and with five wickets in hand. Rohit's classy 68 off 51 balls was the highlight of the chase.
"We knew Stoinis and Dhawan are Delhi's key batters, so we wanted to bowl our key bowlers at them, getting early wickets was the key, we wanted to take early wickets, when you have the best new ball bowler in your squad, why not go with that?" he said.
Rohit applauded each and every bowler for his contribution in the team's success throughout the tournament. Boult (25) and Jasprit Bumrah (27) were at their lethal best the entire season.
"Boult has been fantastic for us this season and so has Bumrah. They are the ones who kept us in the game throughout. (James) Pattinson, (Nathan) Coulter-Nile, (Rahul) Chahar, and Krunal Pandya also did their job."
Coulter-Nile was brilliant during the slog overs on Tuesday. He got rid of Rishabh Pant at a crucial juncture and also sent back Axar Patel, crushing Delhi's hopes of posting an imposing total on the board. The captain, who missed a few games due to a hamstring injury, led the chase with a master-class. Asked if it was his strategy to attack off-spinner R Ashwin, Rohit said, "There was no strategy as such. I just wanted to be positive in my thought process."
"Ashwin is their key bowler and I just wanted to put pressure on their key bowler. He is a quality bowler, it came off. "When you are chasing a target like that, you want to get off to a good start, you want to make sure there is no pressure at the back end, we just wanted to capitalise on the first three-four overs," he explained.
Young batsman Ishan Kishan (516 runs) and Suryakumar Yadav (480 runs) scored heavily in MI's winning campaign. Rohit praised both of them heartily. "Surya and Kishan have been superb with the bat, we saw the results on the ground, they played with a lot of freedom, they are very talented in shot-making.
"It was important for us to give them freedom, the owners also gave them real confidence to go out there and express themselves."
The organisers pulled off a successful league amid a raging COVID-19 pandemic and MI skipper was pleased with the way it went off. "Firstly we are very happy to be on the ground, everyone did a good job to get the tournament going, the safety of players was taken care of.
"I would like to congratulate all the franchises as well regarding no hiccups in terms of the bio-bubble created, all franchises were very disciplined in order to make IPL this year a huge success.
"I hope this championship we have won is something that brings joy to people back home," he signed off.
"I should have sacrificed my wicket for him," said Rohit Sharma as he regretted rising batsman Suryakumar Yadav's dismissal in the IPL final while attempting an improbable single that was actually called by the Mumbai Indians skipper.
I should've sacrificed my wicket for Surya: Rohit
"The kind of form he was in, I should have sacrificed my wicket for Surya. But throughout the tournament he has played some incredible shots," Rohit said of the mix up in which Yadav crossed him just in time to save his captain.
Yadav, who accumulated 480 runs this season averaging 40 with a strike rate of 145, said he didn't mind the sacrifice as he knew the skipper would lead the team through. The 30-year-old had said no to the run when Rohit called for it in the 11th over but crossed over nonetheless when he realised that the captain would be dismissed if he didn't.
"...he was batting really well. Most importantly, he's been anchoring well since the first game. I don't mind sacrificing for him at all," he said.