S. SOORAJ | 2nd May 2021

Let’s just get something out of the way first. The West Indian put on the standout performance in IPL 2021. Some might even consider it one of the best ever IPL performances in history. There may be arguments thrown at this statement from this season alone, putting forth Ravindra Jadeja’s unreal display against RCB or Sanju Samson’s valiant century, albeit in a losing cause against Punjab. But let’s have it right- Pollard singlehandedly ensured the 2nd most successful chase in IPL history came to fruition.

Polly has been one of Mumbai Indians’ greatest assets down the years and in yesterday’s battle, he proved his value once again.

We all know Pollard’s abilities with the bat. He can make hitting sixes and fours look easy, but yesterday wasn’t just about his explosiveness with the bat. He also came in handy with the ball and gave MI a much-needed break.

In a game where Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah were getting smashed all over the park, Pollard managed to make a dent on the CSK batting line-up with the 2 crucial wickets of the in-form Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina in the same over.

Even with the 2-12 in his 2 overs, CSK still managed to reach a mammoth 218-4 in their 20 overs. This was a mountain to climb for MI as they had never chased down a target over 200 in IPL before. But Kieron Pollard climbed over that mountain with ease and smashed it down to pelts of stones, helping MI achieve their highest run chase in IPL history.

Even after a promising start from the openers, Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock, things began going south for Mumbai after three quick wickets. That is when Pollard entered the crease and turned the game on its head. The Windies all-rounder alongside Krunal Pandya put on a 109-run partnership, getting the Mumbai Indians on track to do the seemingly impossible.

Polly was in devastating form as he was tearing Chennai’s bowlers to all parts. He took on Ravindra Jadeja with ease after which MS Dhoni decided that spin will not work against the mountain of a man. Instead, MSD turned to his pace bowlers but that didn’t make a hint of a difference either.

Both Shardul Thakur and Lungi Ngidi were struggling to get their length right and Pollard punished them right away. He ended up with 6 fours and 8 sixes and was at his merciless worst if you’re looking at things through yellow-tinted glasses.

Pollard didn’t seem to slow down whatsoever. The bowling changes, the fielding adjustments, nothing mattered as he kept his aggression going against the helpless CSK bowlers. The Windies all-rounder also got the fastest fifty in this IPL in just 17 balls and ended up with a score of 87 runs in just 34 balls.

Yes, in a run chase that would make most crumble, we got to witness a destructive genius at his best.

Even as things got intense and CSK seemed to get back into the game after Sam Curran stepped up, Pollard didn’t consider defeat as an option.

At 10 overs, it seemed the game was slipping from MI’s hands but Pollard’s heroics laid the path for one of the greatest run chases you’ll ever see in T20 cricket, period.

Kieron Pollard has been a champion player for the Mumbai Indians down the years, ticking all the right boxes you’d want to when assessing the complete cricketer. In the El Clasico of the IPL, Polly reminded us of why he is one of the best ever players to ever try his hand at the shorter format of the game.