Mumbai Indians playoff hopes were on the line with KKR needing a very gettable 12 runs from the last over, with Yusuf Pathan – the newer, more reliable version – on strike.
The ever-reliable death bowling of Malinga had deserted them today as he went for nine runs in the nineteenth over. So when Rohit Sharma handed over the ball – and with it, the responsibility to keep Mumbai alive in the competition – to Kieron Pollard, a few eyebrows were raised.
Pollard is a useful bowler and is known to have the knack of picking up wickets with his variations. But Mumbai have not needed him all year. Before this over against KKR, he had bowled a grand total of 40 balls in the entire tournament, picking up just one wicket.
So what does he do? He dismissed Yusuf Pathan, who was well-set on 52, with the very first ball. A horrible Malinga mis-field and a few wild swings from Piyush Chawla later, Mumbai Indians won a thriller of a match at the Wankhede by five runs.
More importantly, Rohit’s men live to fight another day.
In a way, Rohit’s hand was forced. With 21 required from the last two overs, he had no option but to go to his best bowler like captains almost always do. With Malinga finishing his quota, his other options were the young Hardik Pandya or the even younger Jagdeesh Suchith.
So he turned to Pollard, who was not having the best of days. He had played an atypical knock of 33 from 38 balls with just one four and one six. It’s one of those innings that make you sit on the fence. If Mumbai goes on to win, like they did, it becomes a crucial innings that kept the middle order together and allowed Hardik Pandya to cut loose at the end. If Mumbai lose, then Pollard’s painfully slow start - he took eight balls to get off the mark – becomes the anchor that dragged his side down. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.
But with the ball in hand, he proved to be the match-winner for Mumbai. So often in situations like the one that he faced in the last over, the first ball is the most crucial. Get hit for a boundary and the pressure on the bowler jumps. Pollard delivered an off-cutter just short of the length that cramped Yusuf for room and the top-edge was gleefully taken by Parthiv Patel.
Despite an excuse of an attempt to stop the ball at short fine leg by Malinga one ball later, Pollard did not lose his focus. He was helped by Piyush Chawla aimlessly swinging his bat at off-cutters angled away from him. Pollard finished the over with three dot balls.
“It was a gamble, but looking at his body language, his confidence, I knew I could throw him the ball and he would do the job," Rohit said after the match.
The man-of-the-match went to Hardik Pandya for his Pollard-esque innings of 61 from 31 balls that pushed Mumbai to a fighting total. And deservedly so. But Mumbai’s tournament is still alive thanks to their talismanic West Indian Pollard.
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Updated Date: May 15, 2015 20:05:11 IST