On a day where the fortunes swung from one team to another almost incessantly, it was Kieron Pollard’s sterling partnership with Krunal Pandya which settled the game for Mumbai Indians. Despite reducing their opponents to a dire situation, Royal Challengers Bangalore ran into a resolute stand and lost by four wickets. Let us take a close look at how the events unfolded in the latter half of the engrossing contest.
Mumbai in the doldrums at 33/5
Even though the target of 143 was not a massive one, the slow and low pitch was making life increasingly difficult for the batsmen. As he has so often done in his career thus far, Samuel Badree sent down the first over.
All-rounder Stuart Binny shared the new-ball and prised out the key wicket of Jos Buttler with a seemingly harmless delivery. The wheels well and truly came off for Mumbai when Badree began to weave his magic.
The leg-spinner picked up an amazing hat-trick to leave the visitors reeling at 7/4. While a nicely floated googly accounted for Parthiv Patel, the experiment to promote pinch-hitter Mitchell McClenaghan up the order did not work. Unlike Sunil Narine’s blazing knock yesterday, he fell without troubling the scorers. Things soon turned to worse when skipper Rohit Sharma perished in the very next delivery.
With the side in a quagmire, Pollard joined Nitish Rana in the middle. Just when the duo were slowly getting the chase back on track, Badree struck again. In an attempt to pull off the difficult cut shot against the googly, the left-hander sliced a catch to backward point. At 33/5, Mumbai were all but out of the game.
Pollard and Pandya stitch remarkable comeback
Alongside Krunal, Pollard once again began the painstaking process of resuscitating the chase. Even though Mumbai still had hard-hitter Hardik Pandya up their sleeve, this was the pair which was required to do the heavy-lifting. Another wicket and the lower-order would have to be on their toes.
However, Pollard and Krunal played smartly. Instead of looking for the big shots, they shifted their focus onto piercing the gaps in order to keep the scoreboard ticking along. When the inevitable bad balls presented themselves, both batsmen capitalised to maintain control over the required run-rate.
Even as captain Virat Kohli continued to opt for a combination of spin from one end and pace from the other, the batsmen read the lengths precisely and pulled Mumbai closer to the target. Along the way, Pollard became only the fifth batsman to complete 7000 T20 runs after Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge and David Warner.
When 73 runs were needed from the last seven overs, the burly Caribbean veteran sensed the urgency necessitated by the situation. The inside-out six against Pawan Negi’s tricky stump-to-stump line signalled the change of the tide.
RCB’s expensive recruit Tymal Mills surprisingly struggled on a surface wherein his variations in pace should have been effective. He conceded two boundaries in the 15th over to allow Mumbai Indians to take the ascendancy.
The next over pretty much indicated the direction that the match would eventually take. Despite trying different types of deliveries, Negi saw Pollard nonchalantly dispatch him beyond the fence on consecutive occasions.
The pressure was showing on the home team. Mills let slip a boundary due to a shoddy piece of fielding. Although Yuzvendra Chahal induced a mistimed stroke and managed to send Pollard back to the dressing room, it was too little too late for Bangalore.
The Trinidadian had smashed 70 from 47 balls to help turn the game on its head. Alongside Krunal who gave him solid company from the other end, he put on 93 runs for the sixth wicket. With a 30-ball 37, the southpaw remained unbeaten and saw his brother Hardik score the winning runs in some style.