Kieron Pollard hit a blistering 83 off just 31 balls on his captaincy debut in the Indian Premier League to help Mumbai Indians beat Kings XI Punjab by three wickets on Wednesday. Batting first KXIP scored an imposing 197/4 in 20 overs, courtesy of KL Rahul’s unbeaten 100 off 64 deliveries. In a thrilling run chase, Pollard overshadowed Rahul’s feat as MI cantered to victory on the last ball of the match.
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Toss: MI stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard won the toss and elected to bowl against KXIP. Rohit Sharma, who was injured, was replaced by Siddhesh Lad. Mayank Agarwal was replaced by Karun Nair while Hardus Viljoen came in place of Mujeeb ur Rahman.
First innings: Batting first on a flat deck, Rahul and Gayle forged a 116-run stand in 77 for the first wicket to put MI on the backfoot. Gayle’s innings came to an end in the 13th over when he was caught at deep mid-wicket off Behrendorff. However, that did not slow down the tempo of the innings as Rahul kept punishing the bowlers by finding gaps at will. He was particularly destructive against Hardik Pandya whom he hit for three sixes and a four in the 19th over. In the process, he registered his first IPL century.
Second innings: Chasing at nearly more than 10 runs per over, MI failed to get off to a good start losing their first three wickets for 62. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals but Pollard, who came in at number four, kept the scoreboard moving with lusty blows. But after the departure of Krunal Pandya in the 15th over, he went all guns blazing and smashing sixes for fun. Pollard’s powerful innings comprised just three fours and 10 towering sixes.
Gamechanger: Pollard’s impressive batting was undoubtedly the gamechanger of the match. Mumbai seemed down in the dumps at 140/6 in 15.4 overs. The required rate went past 13 runs per over but the big Jamaican did not flinch and hit 14, 8 and 17 in the next three overs to take MI to the brink of a memorable win.
R Ashwin: “It is a hard defending ground. I thought we pretty good as a bowling unit. Somehow we could not close the game out. Sam was under the pump. It is one of a kind experience for him. He will get better. Sometimes with the dew you can miss the yorker like it happened to Sam. Quite a lot of positives. We showed a lot of composure with the bat. Rahul batted through and closed out the inning We could have been a little more steelier and smarter with our plans. He (Gayle) said he twisted his back. We have to go check and how he is.”
Kieron Pollard: “I would like to thank God. Need to thank him for giving strength to me for doing the things that I do. Also love to thank my wife, it’s her birthday today and I want to dedicate this to her. I went up the order because I enjoy batting at Wankhede. Plan was to attack Ashwin as spin wasn’t doing great. Unfortunately it didn’t happen but it was about staying calm. Was a difficult pitch to bowl on and good to bat on, so we did well with the ball after the start they got. Obviously, Rohit is the captain of the team and it was only a precautionary measure for the team. He should be back in the next game. I would gladly give it back to him and field at the boundary, while also thinking of what to contribute to the team.”
Scorecard: Kings XI Punjab: 197/4 in 20 overs. (KL Rahul 100 not out, C Gayle 63; H Pandya 2/57).
Mumbai Indians: 198 for seven in 20 overs. (K Pollard 83, M Shami 3/21).
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