Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard lived up to their tag of being reliable finishers in T20 cricket for the first time in the second stage of the Indian Premier League to aid Mumbai Indians (MI) across the line against Punjab Kings (PBKS) without much fuss.

Thanks to Hardik (40 n.o., 30b, 4x4, 2x6) and Pollard’s (15 n.o., 7b, 1x4, 1x6) unbroken 45-run stand off 23 balls, MI ensured that an impressive performance by the bowling unit and Saurabh Tiwary earlier in the chase didn’t go in vain as Rohit Sharma and Co. overhauled the target of 136 with six wickets and as many balls to spare.

The victory at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium - Mumbai’s first in its fourth attempt since resumption of the tournament - kept MI’s title defence hopes alive while dealing a big blow to PBKS' aspirations to make the Playoffs.

As it happened

When Pollard joined Hardin in the middle after Tiwary (45, 37b, 3x4, 2x6) - who replaced an out-of-form Ishan Kishan - was caught behind off Nathan Ellis’ back-of-the-hand slower ball in the 16th over, MI required 44 off 29 balls.

Hardik, who had been dropped by Harpeet Brar off the bowling of left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh in the earlier over, took his time in before targeting Mohammed Shami in the 17th over. While Pollard went after Arshdeep in the 18th, Hardik finished iwith a six off Shami that should have actually been caught by Deepak Hooda on the long-on boundary.

Hooda (28, 26b, 1x4, 1x6) couldn’t be blamed for the defeat as he and Aiden Markram (42, 29b, 6x4) stabilised the PBKS essay with a 61-run association for the fifth wicket. Thanks to MI picking four wickets in 14 balls for just 12 runs, Punjab was tottering at 48 for four in the eighth over.

Pollard was the star staging the collapse, picking the prized scalps of Chris Gayle (caught at long-on) and captain K.L. Rahul (caught at short fine off a slower ball) in three balls. Rahul’s wicket meant Pollard became the first cricketer to achieve the double of 10,000 runs and 300 wickets in T20 cricket.

And Pollard ensured he celebrated the grand occasion by playing his part with the willow as well.