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Mumbai Indians all-rounder says playoffs are a fresh start for every team
By Akshay Manwani
Bengaluru 23 May 2012
Mumbai Indians’ all-rounder, Kieron Pollard, exuded an air of confidence ahead of his team’s crucial encounter against the Chennai Super Kingsin the DLF IPL 2012 playoffs. Knowing very well that the team that loses the Eliminator, will crash out of the competition, Pollard said that the pressure was on ever since the IPL began. The Trinidad & Tobago native also said that his team will look to execute the basics and hope not to be the first side to crack under pressure in the much-anticipated contest.
iplt20.com had an exclusive chat with the dazzling all-rounder on the eve of the match between CSK and MI.
You are through to the playoffs, but you have to win every game from here to win the title. Does that put extra pressure on the team?
Anytime you start a tournament like this, the pressure is on [and] so it’s just another game for us. It is very important that we win this game so that we don’t come fourth in this tournament and enter the semi-finals [Qualifier 2] of the IPL. We have to go there, play to the best of our abilities and once we do our basics right, we can come out on top.
You have beaten CSK on both the occasions in the league stage. Does that give you an edge?
I think all that comes to nothing at the end of the day. We have beaten them twice. They know that and so they will come hard at us. So, it is very important that we stick to our guns. Whatever we have done, in the tournament so far, is history. We just need to win all the games and go forward from here.
Any particular plans against CSK’s middle order, which includes MS Dhoni, Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo?
We have played against them before, so we will have plans. It’s a new game on a new surface. The coaching staff and the management have some plans, and hopefully, the players can go out there and execute them. But they are true world-class players. They can take the game away from you in a second. It’s just a matter of who plays better on that day. It’s a knockout game and the pressure is on. Whoever does the small things right and whoever does not crack under pressure first will come out on top.
CSK has always done well when the wicket is slow and has got some spin. Bengaluru, on the other hand, has given some high-scoring games. Does that give you an edge?
I don’t think so. As I said, they are world-class players, they will be able to adjust to all sorts of conditions. I’m sure they’ve done well on wickets, which haven’t turned as well. They are going to back themselves and back their abilities so it does not give us an edge or advantage. What will give us an advantage is that we do what we can control. We can’t think about what the other team possesses or stuff like that. You will be happy with your batting as about six of your players have scored more than 200 runs in the competition.
It’s good to know that guys have actually scored runs. Each and every guy in our team has a match-winning score and the ability to go out and produce a big score. It is just a matter of putting it together. We have played enough cricket together to know what is needed and what is required. So hopefully, we can go there and put things right.
You were first noticed in the inaugural edition of Champions League Twenty20 in 2009. MI have now qualified for that competition. Are you happy to get back to that stage?
Obviously, qualifying for Champions League [Twenty20] is something good. That’s where I actually started and got my IPL contract. It’s a great platform for young players playing for their clubs. Trinidad and Tobago is a country, but we consider it a club because it is a part of the West Indies. Hopefully, more young players can come out like Sunil Narine, Kevon Cooper came out of the Champions League [Twenty20] as well and they have done well in the IPL. It’s another stepping stone for each and every individual, and I’m sure each one of us is looking forward to it. The aim was to get into the top four in order to qualify for CLT20, and we have done that.
When the Royal Challengers Bangalore were chasing a modest 133 against the beleaguered Deccan Chargers, the Chennai Super Kingsturned from cricketers to fans for a day. Crammed in a hotel room, they cheered their hearts out for the Chargers. There was pandemonium in the room and emotions flowing in abundance. The sharp brains that plot the demise of their opponents on the cricket field, gave in to superstitions. Coach, Stephen Fleming, was shut out of the team room because the players thought he brought ill luck for the Chargers.
In the end, CSK got what they were desperately hoping for – a very unlikely DC victory and with it a berth in the playoffs of IPL 2012. They now play the eliminator against the Mumbai Indians in Bengaluru.
Ahead of the knockout game, iplt20.com caught up with CSK’s highest run-getter in the tournament, Faf du Plessis. The amicable South African admitted the team was “very lucky” to still be in the tournament and said it’s now imperative for them to make the most of their fortune and lift the trophy for the third time. He revelled in the fact that it was two South Africans – Dale Steyn and JP Duminy from DC – who knocked RCB out to give CSK a playoff spot. Does the team consider itself fortunate to be here?
Very lucky, to be honest. I did not think it would be possible for us to get through. When it is one result going in your favour, it is asking for a lot; but to have three results going in your favour, it is next to impossible. Destiny wants you to win the third IPL in a row.
Well, that’s what we are thinking now because we shouldn’t be here but we are here. You have to think that someone is on our side to push us to get another trophy.
Did the team watch the DC v RCB match closely?
We were watching all three games. We were watching the RR game, which they lost and we were cheering for MI – which we never do – and then, the RCB one. To be honest with you, I saw the first two matches, but the third one I just said, “I don’t see DC beating the powerhouse that RCB has”. The previous day, Albie [Morkel] and I had sent out a Tweet to Dale Steyn saying “Please do us a favour and just get some early wickets,” and he was just unbelievable. He took three wickets for eight runs. Another South African, JP Duminy, too scored big runs. It was the two South Africans who came to the party to see CSK through. We heard that the team had sent coach Stephen Fleming out of the room during that match?
Yeah, it was really funny. The whole team was sitting there and cheering. Fleming went out and RCB started to struggle. He returned after while to join the whole hype of watching the game. As he entered the room, everyone shouted, “Get out” and he was like “I don’t know why should I get out”. He went to his room and things started to go well for DC again. He tried to come in once again, but we denied him entry into the room. He was only allowed in when the last ball was bowled. CSK has lost both their league matches to MI. Will that play on your minds?
No. In fact, I think something that CSK has done very well as compared to MI is crossing the final hurdle. MI has been fantastic always in the round robin, but sometimes they haven’t gone past the knockout stage. We have been there, we have done it and we know how to do it. So, for us the important thing now is to understand that everything that has happened up till now is gone. The inconsistency is gone. In the past, we have been the better side in the big games, so that’s what matters in this game. What is the biggest threat from MI?
To have someone like [Lasith] Malinga is a great boost. He plays a key role in the bowling department and how we play him is going to be very important. He has done well in the matches against CSK. They have got good finishers and so do we; the only difference between the two teams is Malinga, who’s the best T20 bowler in the world. For us, [Ben] Hilfenhaus has been doing well with the new ball, which is something we lacked until he came. That adds strength to our team.
CSK’s game in Bengaluru was washed out, whereas MI beat RCB here. Will they have better knowledge of the conditions?
It is a really good wicket and we have got a really strong batting line-up. It was unfortunate that we missed out on the game because of the rains. There is a true bounce on the wicket, which the batsmen will relish. Hopefully, our powerhouse batting will put some runs on the board. Hilfenhaus and Michael Hussey have put you on the brink. What do you think are your chances of getting a game?
That’s up to the selectors. I was sick for two games; I had bad viral fever. That created a chance for Michael to come back in to the setup and he has done well. Now, it’s a difficult one for the selectors, because I have been doing really well and so is Hussey. Luckily, I don’t have to make that decision. But it’s not easy to leave out your highest run-scorer of the season.
That’s the theory. In the previous game, they went for Michael and the thinking behind that was that he has been doing well and I was sick and 90 percent fit. Now, I am back to 100 percent and I obviously want to play. But it’s up to Fleming and MS [Dhoni] and what they think will be the best team on that day.