Kieron Pollard: Mumbai Indians’ middle-order henchman

Apart from his big hitting, Pollard has taken 56 wickets and pouched 53 catches, and may have stopped hundreds of runs. These stats say a lot as to why MI rates him as an invaluable asset.

MI has never lost faith in Pollard, who has now scored 1,873 runs off 1,254 balls (100 matches, 92 innings, 28 not outs, 9 x 50s, run rate of 8.96, average 29.27).   -  K. R. DEEPAK

Kieron Pollard whacked the ball to all parts of the field to make his 100th match for the blue and silver stripes team his most memorable one yet. His and Mumbai Indians’ legion of supporters, known as “MIpaltan”, rejoiced every time the 28-year-old tonked the ball well clear of the barbed fencing of the Wankhede Stadium, in the last home match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Thursday.

Poor Rajagopal Sathish — who had turned out 21 times in the 2010 and 2011 editions for his adversary of Thursday — had hardly built a reputation to do extraordinary things with the ball; 3 wickets at 74.33 in 22.1 overs was all he had to show for before the match. And so when the KKR captain Gautam Gambhir tossed the ball to the trundler in the 16th over, Pollard pounced on the bowler. The big-made all-rounder from Trinidad and Tobago sealed the fate of the match in that over, smacking three maximums in a murderous onslaught.

Pollard did not give scope for Sunil Narine’s riddles to make any further impact in the match. First the mystery off-spinner called Krunal Pandya’s bluff and then saw Australian Chris Lynn’s outstanding effort at long off get rid of Jos Buttler. Narine had one more over, but by the time he was brought on, in the 17th over, KKR and Gambhir had seen the debacle coming in the form of Pollard’s mayhem.

Pollard repeated the ‘three-sixes’ act when Saurashtra’s left arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat was given the 18th over and his captain Rohit Sharma had the best seat in the house, watching the ruthless assault from the non-striker’s end. Rohit, whose average against KKR jumped to 54.58 (18 innings, 6 n.o., 655 runs, 1 x 100 (109*), 4 x 50s, run rate of 8.43) with his unbeaten 68, said post-match that he felt happy at Pollard peaking at the right time.

MI has never lost faith in Pollard, who has now scored 1,873 runs off 1,254 balls (100 matches, 92 innings, 28 not outs, 9 x 50s, run rate of 8.96, average 29.27). In addition to those numbers, he has taken 56 wickets and pouched 53 catches, and may have stopped hundreds of runs. These stats say a lot as to why MI rates him as an invaluable asset.

A knee injury has made him a cautious fielder in the deep; it was there for all to see on Thursday, but a key member of the support staff for many seasons, Robin Singh, did not see much in Pollard becoming a trifle tardy. “I think he’s okay. He’s just getting over his injury. He’s come back to cricket much earlier than what we had expected. He’s done a lot of rehab, we are pretty satisfied with him and even the trainers are satisfied with his fitness.”

MI has also used him strategically well at No. 6 where he has scored 739 runs in 28 innings (11 not outs, 6 x 50). Pollard has scored 633 runs at No. 5, 219 at No. 7, 200 at No. 4, 48 at No. 8 and 34 at No. 3.

After the match Pollard tweeted: Thank god for small mercies!! And teammate Harbhajan ‘Bhajji’ Singh used his twitter handle to say: KP special. Ball still going big fella. Pollard has now figured in 60 wins for MI.

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