Stayed calm under pressure, says Pollard

Kieron Pollard smashed 83 off just 31 balls as Mumbai Indians pulled off its highest successful chase at the Wankhede Stadium and registered its third win on the trot.

Kieron Pollard plays a shot during the match against Kings XI Punjab.   -  Sportzpics/BCCI

Kieron Pollard admitted that it was important to stay calm in the middle and seal the deal after he captained Mumbai Indians for the first time and hammered a 31-ball 83 to guide the team to a win against Kings XI Punjab in Mumbai on Wednesday.

“For me, the most important thing was to win the game. I was able to stay calm under pressure and finish the game, which I wanted to do,” Pollard said.

When the West Indian big-hitter was dismissed, young Alzarri Joseph kept his cool to score two runs in the last ball and Pollard lauded the youngster, saying, “Alzarri kept a calm head at the back end. We’ve got a couple of overs in the game after a couple of (wickets) fell and keeping that calm, in the end, was good.”

READ | Pollard heroics help Mumbai clinch a humdinger

But would he rate this innings as one of his best? Russell smirked and replied: “You can say yes, you can say no…”

Despite winning the toss, Mumbai chose to bowl — a decision that initially backfired as Kings XI openers Chris Gayle and KL Rahul went on a rampage.

“The start that they got in the first 10 overs, they went over 10 runs an over. We knew we needed to get a couple of wickets to pull them back, which we actually did. We were looking at 180 but in the last two-three overs we could not execute (the plans),” Pollard said.

“Having said that, we knew that we had to go and chase. We got a good start, 50-odd runs in the Powerplay. It was a matter of keeping calm and finish the game. Again, well done to the boys and it was a very good batting track. Some people complain but I think this one was brilliant and the guys showed their mettle.”

While chasing a mammoth target, there was a time when the required run-rate skyrocketed. Did Pollard actually feel that it would be possible for the team to bounce back?

“Anything was possible once your power-hitters, Krunal or Hardik and myself were there. When we needed 94 off 48, we had to break it down to two big overs and there were a couple of bowlers who we had to target. Every day you can’t chase 180 or 190 but today we did and got the much-needed two points for ourselves,” the stand-in skipper said.

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Last year, Pollard had a rather disappointing outing, but he has moved on. “It is what it is. 2018 is gone and obviously, when you are losing, people tend to have all sort of opinions. Even people who have not played the game or people who have played have opinions, you can’t stop them from that. I am a cricketer, 31 years of age and have a lot of cricket left in me. People who are close to me have backed me, that’s most important,” he said.

“It did not work last year, but last year is gone. It’s a matter of me coming out, enjoying my game and that’s what I am doing.”

With the World Cup a month away, he is just concentrating on using every opportunity he gets to make his case for being a part of the Windies squad. “Every day I get the opportunity to play, I need to use them. The utmost I can do is score runs on the board every time I am on the field.” The rest, he said, is up to the selectors.

With West Indies cricket board getting a new president, Pollard is optimistic. “There is a new chairman of selectors, there’s a new president. I can take it as it comes. Had it been last year, you wouldn’t have asked me this question. Now that I have scored, all sort of questions will come. For me, it is about enjoying cricket and do my best on my God-given talent.”

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This particular IPL season has seen the West Indies players performing well and Pollard is happy with it. He, however, does not want to treat his competition with Chris Gayle as a battle.

“For us, it is not a battle. It is about enjoying and we know what we can do. Chris batted very well. Russell is back into form and its good to see the way he is hitting the ball. Then there’s Narine, so these guys are having a good tournament. I suppose they are enjoying the game. When you are enjoying, the mind is free, you don’t think much,” the seasoned campaigner said.