We’ve seen IPL produce nail-biters one after the other, but there are only a few that remain stuck in one’s memory. Mumbai Indians’ win against the Chennai Super Kings today was one such game that kept everyone on the edge of their seats. The kind of hitting, the kind of power, the kind of aggression and to cap it off, the trademark mandatory Pollard finish of the season, there was hardly any possible action that Mumbai’s highest ever run-chase didn’t have.
In pursuit of the 219 run target, Mumbai began well with the bat. Both the openers, Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma, despite the edges flying to all parts of the ground, did extremely well to make the most of the powerplay giving the team a good start. The Chennai bowlers were in the game with the edged and the mis-hits but hardly any of them could reach the fielders. The success for them only came in the 8th over when Rohit Sharma was caught off Shardul by Ruturaj. It was the only time that Chennai had their heads upfront in the contest as they also managed to pick up crucial wickets of De Kock and Suryakumar Yadav in consecutive overs. Reaching the halfway stage in the run-chase, the score read 81-3, Mumbai still needing 138 of the last 10.
Then came the entry of the big man Kieron Pollard with literally no time to access the situation and adjust the conditions. But as it turned out, he didn’t need much either. Five balls into his innings, Pollard hit Jadeja for three sixes in an over and opened the floodgates. Every single over between the 12th and 16th included a minimum of two boundaries, indicative of Pollard being set out rolling. One of Pollard’s sixes off Shardul Thakur sent into orbit recorded a record 103m distance and there was literally no stopping the big-man from Trinidad thereafter. The sheer strength, confidence, and belief in his abilities had bolstered Pollard to play a gem of an innings for Mumbai. He brought his fifty of just 17 balls and nonchalantly continued the onslaught on the Chennai bowlers. The Pandya brothers coming to his support from the other end also struck a few meaty blows in their short cameos at the crease.
MS Dhoni and CSK had no counter to the geniuses of Kieron Pollard but they still put forward their best foot with Sam Curran trusted with the bowling duties in the 17th over. He made good use of his angle, pace variations, and the field to keep MI batters to only 2 of his six balls. The due process he also picked up a pricy wicket of Krunal Pandya bringing back a glare of hope to the Chennai set-up. He also came back to pick up the junior Pandya an over later after being hit for two sixes of the first two balls. Curran’s overs also sandwiched between the Shardul Thakur over – the one that gave perhaps the deciding moment of the match. Faf du Plessis missed a straightforward catch off POllard in what is now regarded as the most decisive moment of the game. Post Hardik’s dismissal, even Jimmy Neesham was dismissed in pursuit of hitting a sixer leaving the big West Indian to get 16 of the Ngidi over.
Pollard was clear in his head to finish the game off for Mumbai by any means. He refused a single of the first ball of the over but came back hitting the next two for boundaries. He again refused a single off the fourth ball of the over but this time went for the full monty in the next ball hitting it away for a maximum – his 8th of the evening. With just two needed of one delivery, Pollard placed the ball towards long-on and completed the double to mark one of MI’s greatest victories of all time. CSK, as Dhoni also exclaimed in the post-match, failed to execute their plans and ran onto a mammoth wave that strangled them back for all value.
It was a kind of knock from Pollard that took away all the might and impressions from Chennai’s first innings. The likes of Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, and Ambati Rayudu were fantastic in the middle overs for Chennai consistently scoring in excess of 10 every over. Rayudu in fact made the likes of Boult, Bumrah, Kulkarni, and everyone else look like a mockery hitting them to all parts of the ground with his. It was due to his innings of 72 of just 27 balls that propelled CSK well beyond 200. It certainly is a pity that the knocks from the CSK batters early on would not be remembered for the right reasons.
Having said that, the mandatory seasonal knock from Pollard signifies MI’s return to form. We’ve all witnessed what the champion Mumbai side is capable of when it comes to performing under pressure and Pollard’s knock is the only initiation of what is to follow.