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Every time Mumbai Indians fail to post a winning total or falter in a chase, voices from various corners demand the batting order promotion of Kieron Pollard higher than the No.6. They find it difficult to fathom how and why the most marauding hitter of the cricket ball in the team is often left with very little time to make an impact.
In MI’s second game of Pepsi IPL 2013, against hosts Chennai Super Kings, the Caribbean T20 specialist showed everyone what he could do if given the opportunity to plan and pace his innings. With MI having lost their top four batsmen, including Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, Pollard was at the crease as early as in the ninth over.
He took that rare opportunity to prove his worth as a match-winner with the bat and smacked an unbeaten 57 off 38 balls. However, the strapping Trinidadian refuted all claims of making a statement.
“I have a role in the team to play and it’s the management’s role to decide that. I am happy doing whatever I am asked to do,” he said after helping MI to a nine-run win. “It was just the matter of playing for my team and myself, trying to get a score against my name and getting into the groove of the tournament.”
Besides Pollard’s big hits, one of the most entertaining part of his knock was his ‘exchange of words’ with fellow Trinidadian and West Indian, Dwayne Bravo. The banter started by the Super Kings all-rounder culminated in Pollard hitting Bravo for a last ball six.
“He started by it trying to throw the ball back at me,” pollard said in jest when asked how the battle ensued. “It’s always been a fun rivalry between both of us. We’re fellow countrymen and very good friends off the field. In fact, we’re as close as brothers. On the field it’s a job and entertainment and we have to do our part. He’s trying to win and so am I,” Pollard said.
Another interesting incident involving Pollard that he likes to call “sportsmanship”, happened during the 18th over of the second innings when he was bowling to MS Dhoni. The CSK captain had already scored 10 runs off the first two balls. Pollard ran in for the third and pulled out. “I was trying to slow it down a bit because he was going berserk,” he admitted in a chat with iplt20.com after the match.
When he did prepare to release the ball in the second attempt, Dhoni backed off from his crease to “give it back” to the bowler. Dhoni took it one step further when he removed his pads and sat down to tie his shoe laces.” Then I had to come up with something but the captain was telling us to hurry up, so I just had to rush through the over,” and that’s when the mind games between the bowler and the batsman ended.
However, Pollard had the last laugh in the ultimate contest when he converted what looked like a six, into a stunning catch in the deep to dismiss the rampaging Dhoni. The CSK skipper was dismissed for a 26-ball 51 and it proved to be the final nail in CSK’s coffin. With CSK needing 12 runs from six balls at that time, the catch proved to be the turning point of the match. Pollard, however, chose to play it down.
“You can look at it as one of the important moments in the match but having said that, we played well as a team. Mitch (Mitchell Johnson) bowled well the over before and so the pressure was on Dhoni. He went for the big shot and the ball came to me,” he said.
We ended the chat by asking him who was the biggest hitter of the cricket ball. Pat cam the answer, “Chris Gayle”.
245: The number of sixes hit by Kieron Pollard in Twenty20 format – 18 more than the number of fours he has hit!
65: Number of runs added by Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh – highest seventh wicket partnership in IPL history. The pair obliterated the previous record stand of 60 between Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Warne for Rajasthan Royals against Kings XI Punjab at Cape Town in 2009.
50: By dismissing Dwayne Smith, R Ashwin completed his 50 wickets in the IPL – in his 50th match!
4: The number of times MS Dhoni has reached his fifty off 25 or fewer balls in the IPL. Only Virender Sehwag has done this more often- 5 times.
4: Number of ducks made by Sachin Tendulkar in the IPL. Interestingly Mumbai Indians went on to win all of these four games!