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Pollard and Rohit’s fire and ice act quells Kolkata

Wisden India logo Wisden India 28-04-2016

Rohit Sharma called right at the toss, and backed his decision to bowl with an unbeaten 68 off 49 balls to anchor a successful pursuit of 175 for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League contest against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday (April 28). In the end, a thunderous 17-ball 51 from Kieron Pollard made Mumbai’s chase look easy, as the hosts marched to a comprehensive six-wicket win.

Pollard’s fifty, during which he hit six monstrous sixes and two fours, was the quickest by a Mumbai batsman in the history of the IPL. It was quite a feat for the big West Indian to mark his 100th IPL match.

Mumbai did not have the best of starts: Parthiv Patel’s stay at the crease lasted for just two balls, Umesh Yadav getting him to edge one to Yusuf Pathan at first slip. That brought Rohit and Ambati Rayudu together and they stuck together.

Both batsmen have been in good touch in this tournament, and the confidence showed in how they continued to attack the bowlers despite the early loss.

Rayudu began the assault with a flicked boundary through backward square leg off the first ball he faced from Yadav, and went on to hit four more boundaries and a six in his 20-ball knock of 32. It took a fantastic catch by Suryakumar Yadav at the wide long-on fence off Shakib Al Hasan’s bowling to send Rayudu back and end the dangerous second-wicket association that had grown to 59 off 34 balls.

Krunal Pandya was promoted up the order in a gamble to keep the scoring rate going, but that backfired when Sunil Narine foxed him with a flighted delivery that went on to hit the top of his middle stump.

Rohit and Jos Buttler, who scored 15 at a run a ball, took Mumbai past the 100-run mark, but once Buttler was dismissed – to a spellbinding bit of jugglery at the boundary by Chris Lynn – Pollard made short work of the total, ending the match with two overs to spare.

Earlier, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, as they have on numerous occasions this season, got Kolkata off to a flyer, with Uthappa assuming the role of the aggressor early on.

The second over of the match from Mitchell McClenaghan could have been the last one for Gambhir, who skyed the sixth ball of the over in an attempt to pull it over the midwicket fence, but the bowler misjudged the catch, and what a costly drop that turned out to be.

Harbhajan Singh sent Uthappa packing for 36 in the eighth over, and Shakib, who was promoted to No. 3 for the first time in his IPL career, followed suit soon after. Gambhir, however, remained unstirred, finding the fence regularly at the other end.

The Kolkata captain found an ally in Suryakumar Yadav, the hero of the previous game, and the duo knuckled down to string together a third-wicket partnership of 44 from 33 balls, and kept the scoreboard ticking in the middle overs.

Gambhir’s crucial knock of 59, which included six splendid strokes to the fence and one six, finally came to an end in the 14th over, with McClenaghan getting his revenge with a bouncer, and the batsman mistiming a pull shot into the safe hands of Pollard at mid-off.

The scoreboard read 121 for 3 in 13.5 overs at that stage, and with power-hitters like Andre Russell, Lynn and Yusuf Pathan to come in next, one expected Kolkata to finish big. But Mumbai struck at regular intervals, somewhat putting the breaks on Kolkata’s scoring rate.

Suryakumar top-edged Tim Southee, who kept his eyes on the ball, before safely pouching the high catch in the 16th over. Two overs later, a short cameo from Russell (22 off 16) was cut short by Southee, who returned to uproot the Jamaican’s leg stump with a full, outswinging delivery.

With 16 deliveries in the innings, the pressure was on Lynn and Pathan, both of whom were fresh at the crease at that time, to provide the final onslaught. Mumbai could easily have capitalised on that had they held onto the chances the situation yielded. Southee dropped Lynn and Pathan off consecutive deliveries in the 19th over at long on, and Pathan’s eight-ball 19 meant Kolkata finished with a competitive total. But given the mood some of Mumbai’s batsmen were in, it wasn’t to be a winning one.

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