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IPL 2014: Kieron Pollard’s return to form augurs well for struggling Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians batsman Kieron Pollard in action during the 16th match of IPL 2014 between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Darede (2)
Kieron Pollard played a blistering innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 7  © IANS

 Kieron Pollard’s blistering knock in the previous game showed that the old adage “the match isn’t over till the last ball is bowled” still holds true, especially in the Twenty20 format. While Mumbai Indians weren’t able to pull off the victory, Pollard’s innings could be just the shot in the arm it needs. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the impact Pollard could have on the struggling Mumbai.

Kieron Pollard is one of the few foreign stars to have played for the same team in every edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) they have played in. In the 67 matches he has played in the IPL, he has scored 1,191 runs with an average of 27.06 and a strike rate of 144.53 to boot. He also has 51 wickets at an economy rate of 8.31. These are very respectable figures, but they are by no means outstanding.

Why is it then, that Pollard plays such a huge role in the Mumbai set-up? He has been an integral part of their playing XI ever since his debut in 2010. In fact, Lasith Malinga and Pollard were two constants in Mumbai ever-changing line-up of foreign cricketers. Since 2010, the foreign players to have appeared in the Mumbai squad include — but are not limited to — Richard Levi, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Davy Jacobs, Clint McKay, and the two leading run-scorers of IPL 7 so far, Glenn Maxwell and Dwayne Smith.

The reason that Pollard is so indispensable is perhaps the fact that he brings a lot to the table. If he doesn’t perform with the bat, you can expect a quiet over or two with the ball. And in the event that he doesn’t do too well with either bat or ball, you can be sure that he’ll be an asset in the field, barring that one inexplicable match against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) when Pollard forgot how to catch a cricket ball and dropped Michael Hussey three times in three balls, each catch being easier than the last.

 

Barring that abomination, Pollard has been excellent in the field. And then there’s that intangible factor about him that is unquantifiable by any rational unit of measurement. Somehow, when Pollard is in the middle, the match is never truly over. It’s the same feeling one gets while watching MS Dhoni, or in recent times Maxwell. Dhoni has proven time and again that as long as he is at the crease, no chase is out of his grasp. Maxwell showed the same in first two matches for Kings XI Punjab this year. Pollard seems to have an affinity for the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), against whom he scored his highest IPL score of 78 a few days ago. He was severe on all the bowlers especially the leg-spinner, Amit Mishra. It shows that he has worked hard on his batting, as he was never considered a good player of spin. In the 2013 IPL, he helped Mumbai chase down 62 runs from four overs against the Sunrisers, to end with an unbeaten 66 from 27 balls with eight sixes, five of which came off successive deliveries.

Pollard may not be Mumbai’s most reliable batsmen. He isn’t even their best batsman. But at a time when everyone else has struggled, Pollard has stood tall. Perhaps he is the talisman Mumbai need to progress in the tournament. His knock in the last match definitely proved one thing: MI are not dead and buried. As long as they have a fighter like Pollard, they have to believe that anything is possible. After all, the match isn’t over till the last ball is bowled.

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(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

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