Pollard’s blazing innings burned the Royals
The Rajasthan Royals were handed their first loss of the 2012 IPL, after an absolutely scintillating innings from Kieron Pollard.
Pollard, who has seriously improved his Twenty20 skills from participating in different tournaments around the world, showcased just why he should never be underestimated in any game.
Mumbai fans were a little disappointed when Rajasthan captain, Rahul Dravid won the toss and chose to bowl first.
Mumbai openers, Richard Levi and Tirumalasetti Suman, were looking confident as they walked out to the middle to face the Rajasthan bowling attack.
Levi and Suman, posted 28 runs from three and a half overs, at a run rate of eight an over, before Suman was dismissed on 10 runs after falling to a fantastic catch at mid-on by Siddharth Trivedi.
Rohit Sharma joined Levi at the crease, and together, the pair repaired the early damage done by racking up 31 runs, at an astounding rate of 9.30.
However, Sharma was completely bamboozled by a delivery from Brad Hogg, as he expected the ball to spin away from him, but it ended up spinning into him and took out his off stump, which brought an end to his innings of 21 from 13 balls, during which he hit two boundaries and one six as well.
Nine runs later, it was Richard Levi’s turn to walk back to the pavilion, after Levi was bowled between bat and pad by Brad Hogg, which ended his innings on 29 off 22 balls, that included four boundaries and a huge six.
Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu played some brilliant shots, as they worked extremely well to pull Mumbai back into the game.
Pollard, started to completely dominate the partnership he and Rayudu were putting together, and Rayudu, was perfectly happy to keep the big West Indian on strike.
The fifty partnership between the pair soon blew by, and there seemed to be no signs of them slowing down, especially Pollard, who looked to be a man on a mission.
Pollard brought up his own half century after only 29 balls with an absolute cracking stroke down the ground, which almost took umpire Aleem Dar with it.
As the partnership was within striking distance of the century mark, Pollard got out after trying to clear the boundary one time too many, and ended up hitting a delivery straight down the throat of Ajinkya Rahane at long-on.
Pollard’s 64 runs off just 33 balls, in which he blasted six boundaries and four massive sixes, had played a vital role in helping Mumbai get on track to post a total of 200 or more.
Pollard, was easily voted as the Man of the Match for his fiery innings, and said: “The team needed that impetus. Royals played really well, but we knew 10-11 runs every over would be difficult, fantastic atmosphere. You can say that (Mumbai my second home).”
Nine runs after Pollard had departed, Dinesh Karthik was out, after trying to paddle sweep one delivery down to the fine leg boundary, but instead, found Trivedi waiting at short fine leg to complete the catch with no problems whatsoever.
One over later, James Franklin failed to pick up on a slower delivery by Amit Singh, and ended up spooning a simple catch to Rahane at long-off.
Mumbai, were given a major boost by captain Harbhajan Singh and Rayudu, as the pair hammered 20 runs from the last eight deliveries in the innings to end just three runs shy of 200.
Amit Singh and Brad Hogg took two wickets each, while Ankeet Chavan and Kevon Cooper both picked up a wicket each as well.
Facing a truly challenging total of 198 to win, the Rajasthan Royals opening pair of captain Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane, looked to get off to a blistering start, in order to have any hopes of achieving their target.
However, it was the opposite that happened, as seven runs into their innings, Dravid was dismissed, when he got a top edge off a delivery which landed straight into the hands of Suman at mid-off.
The very next delivery, Mumbai were rewarded with another wicket, as Shreevats Goswami, got an inside edge of a delivery from Munaf Patel that Karthik did well to hang on to.
Ajinkya Rahane and Owais Shah, pulled together and started to dispatch the Mumbai bowling attack all over the ground, as they started to make up for the early loss of wickets.
With some excellent stroke play and maintaining a healthy run rate at the same time, the pair looked to single-handedly give Mumbai a run for their money.
The fifty partnership between Rahane and Shah, came up in almost no time at all, and from then on, it looked as if the pair were going to be unstoppable.
But, just as the partnership had entered the eighties, Pollard got the big wicket of Rahane, when he holed out to long-on.
Rahane’s innings of 40 from 31 balls, during which he smashed four boundaries and two sixes, had helped put a spark of life back into the Rajasthan chase.
Owais Shah meanwhile, was growing more and more confident, and even brought up his own half century off 32 balls with a massive six over deep square leg.
Shah and Ashok Menaria, quickly built up another solid partnership, during which the most damage had been by Shah.
However, just as the partnership had hit 45 runs, Shah had his off stump knocked to the ground after failing to pick up one of Malinga’s deadly accurate yorkers.
Shah’s 76 runs off 42 balls, included five boundaries and five sixes as well, as he had tried to get Rajasthan as close to the required run rate as possible.
Three balls later, Johan Botha, was dismissed when trying to clear the on side region, but was caught by Kieron Pollard.
Kevon Cooper, made a quick 14 runs from six balls, in which he thumped only two sixes, before getting comprehensively bowled by slower delivery from Munaf Patel.
In the 18th over, Pollard took three wickets to effectively seal the deal for the Mumbai Indians.
First to go was Menaria, who scored 20 runs from 15 balls, which included two fours and a six, until he skied a delivery straight into the waiting hands of Rohit Sharma in the covers.
The very next delivery, Ankeet Chavan, was beaten by the uneven bounce Pollard got off the surface, and ended up edging the ball behind, where Karthik claimed a very comfortable catch.
Pollard was unlucky not to get his hat-trick, but he did get a wicket on the next delivery after his hat-trick ball, when Amit Singh was clean bowled after leaving all of his stumps exposed.
The Royals were finished off on 170, after Brad Hogg was caught by James Franklin at deep midwicket.
Munaf Patel and Kieron Pollard both took four wickets, while Lasith Malinga chipped in with two of his own, as Mumbai emerged victorious by 27 runs.
Rajasthan captain, Rahul Dravid, felt as if his team should not have given away so many runs, and said: “We thought we had a chance. We were under the pump a little bit. Little panic among the youngsters. There are positives.”
Mumbai captain, Harbhajan Singh, was pleased with the all-round effort of his team, and said: “Malinga you can bring him any time. If Shah had batted three more overs the game would have finished. The dew was a problem, but when you have 197 on board, the opposition still has to keep the score moving.”
With Mumbai thrashing the Rajasthan Royals, thanks to an incredible display from Kieron Pollard, they will be hoping to continue their winning streak when playing against the Delhi Daredevils on April 16.
Rajasthan on the other hand, will be looking to refocus and rethink their strategy a little bit before heading into their next match, where they will face the Kolkata Knight Riders on April 13.