Mumbai, Apr. 11:
Captain Kieron Pollard’s incredible 31-ball 83 trumped KL Rahul’s unbeaten century as Mumbai Indians edged out Kings XI Punjab in a thriller at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Stepping in for the injured Rohit Sharma, Pollard promoted himself to No. 4 and took it upon himself to chase down the stiff target of 198, which MI crossed on the final ball. His innings, studded with 10 sixes and three fours, proved to be the difference on the night which saw Rahul (100* off 64) and Chris Gayle (63 off 36) also play big knocks.
Pollard walked in the eighth over and took charge from a situation which saw Mumbai needing 133 from the last 10 overs, and fell with only three balls remaining.
Mumbai’s chase started with debutant Siddesh Lad hitting a six and a four off his first two balls, but Mohammed Shami ensured there would be no fairytale when he bowled him with a full ball.
Suryakumar Yadav and Quinton de Kock enjoyed early reprieves when David Miller and Rahul dropped catches, but neither batsman could make use of the chance. Mumbai got 50 in the Power Play but slowed down in the next four, adding only 15 runs and losing Suryakumar and de Kock. At the half-way mark, they were 65 for 3 with two new batsmen in the middle.
One of those batsmen, though, was Pollard. He changed the course of the game from that stage, beginning with an onslaught against Sam Curran in the 12th over hitting two sixes and a four. Ishan Kishan was run out in the same over, but Pollard carried on, smashing R Ashwin for two sixes two overs later.
Mumbai added 70 runs in the five overs between overs 11 and 15, going into the last five needing 63. It was a serious possibility, but they had a hurdle in the form of Shami.
Shami had the Pandya brothers in the 16th over, leaving Pollard with all to do. The Mumbai captain showed tremendous game awareness, picking the right bowlers to target. He played out Shami, who finished with figures of 4-0-21-3, but had a go at Curran and later Ankit Rajpoot.
Mumbai needed 32 from the last 2, when Curran bowled a terrible penultimate over, feeding Pollard length balls with pace. The batsman accepted the offerings, smashing two sixes and a four. Curran ended with figures of 4-0-54-1 while Rajpoot conceded two runs fewer.
Rajpoot, who had injured his finger earlier, had the task of defending 15 in the last over. He began with a no-ball which went for six, and followed it up with a boundary ball. There was more drama when Pollard holed out to a bouncer – something the bowlers refused to try earlier – in the third ball, bringing the equation to 4 off 3, and ultimately 2 off 1, with two tailenders.
Alzarri Joseph and Rahul Chahar kept their nerve to wrap up the thriller.
Punjab’s innings started slowly, had a high, then suffered a low before finally reaching a peak.
The first four overs produced only 20 runs. Gayle scored just three off his first seven before he tore into Jason Behrendorff, smashing him for three sixes and one four in a 23-run fifth over. Rahul was steady at the other end, as Punjab scored 50 in the Power Play.