Kieron Pollard — Mumbai Indians' player of value

With 2,526 runs, taken 56 wickets and held 77 catches in the Indian Premier League, Kieron Pollard is a cut above the rest.

Special player: Kieron Pollard has featured in all four finals contested by Mumbai Indians in the IPL.   -  PTI

If Kieron Pollard represents the benchmark for the best all-rounder in the Indian Premier League (IPL) — a tally of more than 2,000 runs, with more than 50 wickets and catches each — it shows he is a cut above the rest.

In nine years of the world’s best Twenty20 league — and so far in the 10th — Pollard has scored 2,526 runs, taken 56 wickets and held 77 catches, including the acrobatic ones against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. In addition, he must have saved about 100 runs on the field. Shane Watson (154 matches, 3966 runs, 116 wickets, 44 catches, and 64 wins), who has so far played for Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Super Kings, is another awesome performer in the league.

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Bought at the 2010 auction by the Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians by USD 750,000 — the highest for the season alongside Shane Bond (purchased by Kolkata Knight Riders) — Pollard appears to have fulfilled his potential. He has figured in all four finals Mumbai Indians has reached — in 2010 (defeated), 2013 (won), 2015 (won), and 2017 (won).

Hence, the team that plays bright cricket in a blue apparel with American gold piping, is satisfied with the investment it made on him 11 years ago.

Terrific impact

On his part, Pollard, having batted mostly at No. 5 and No. 6, has made a terrific impact with his powerful sixes and remarkable fielding and catching. He turned out to be one of the biggest entertainers in the league, but after suffering a dip in form last season (133 runs in nine matches), questions were raised about his form. The Trinidadian’s best years were 2013 (420 runs), 2015 (419 runs), and 2017 (385 runs) — the season in which the side won its third title.

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Zaheer Khan, Mumbai Indians’ Director of Cricket Operations, was not concerned with Pollard’s form or credentials. At a media interaction before the start of the tourney, he had said: “Pollard has played a very influential role as far as [Mumbai Indians’] success is concerned. Anyone who understands the game knows how difficult that position of batting is where people have been identified, who can contribute with greater power which can change the game. A 20-run difference is also huge in this format. Keeping that in mind, the value and faith that we have shown in Pollard is going to be reciprocated. As an individual, he recognises how critical his role will be in this IPL and we are looking forward to him making an impact. We have faith in him and he’s coming in with form.”

Kieron Pollard takes an acrobatic catch to dismiss Suresh Raina. Photo: Sportzpics/BCCI

 

Pollard has featured in 78 wins out of 136 matches he has played — all for Mumbai Indians. The last win was against Super Kings on Wednesday. This season, he scored 21 against Delhi Capitals in Mumbai Indians’ first home match; five against Royal Challengers; and seven against Kings XI.

Coming in to bat at No. 7 on Wednesday, Pollard and Hardik Pandya went after the Super Kings bowling to add 45 for the sixth wicket in an unbeaten partnership. It swung the momentum in their team’s favour. Pollard finished with an unbeaten 17 — a knock that featured two sixes. It was this kind of innings, according to Zaheer, which makes the difference sometimes.

Pollard has electrified the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium with some astounding catches in the deep. The catch he took to dismiss Suresh Raina was breathtaking. As long as he keeps taking such catches and keeps tonking the ball at crucial stages, Mumbai Indians will be pleased.