Pollard blitz floors Chennai Super Kings
Kieron Pollard’s match-defining half-century (57 not out off 38 balls) and Pragyan Ojha’s twin strikes in crucial junctures enabled Mumbai Indians to post a nine-run win over Chennai Super Kings in a high-voltage match under a packed MA Chidambaram roof here on Saturday.
When the equation read 12 runs off 6 balls with two wickets in hand, Dhoni struck the first ball off Munaf Patel, which was brilliantly intervened and plucked by Pollard at the deep mid-wicket. Until then, Dhoni looked to take the game away from Mumbai Indians. That shifted the dynamics to the Mumbai Indians, who held on in the last over, courtesy of Munaf Patel’s experience, as he hardly gave the batsmen any width.
For once, Dhoni’s knock (51 off 26 balls) went in vain. Then blame it on Chennai’s top order, who hardly applied themselves. Murali Vijay, his confidence high after his prolific series against Australia, floundered in pursuit of a pre-determined flick off Patel. Suresh Raina, the highest run-gatherer in the IPL, too departed soon, attempting to power Johnson through the leg-side. Though Mike Hussey and Dwayne Bravo restored their innings, the former’s dismissal impeded CSK’s course. After bedding in, the latter uncharacteristically swiped across to Harbhajan, only to see his stumps disarranged. Soon after, Ojha accounted for both Dwayne Bravo and S Badrinath to derail CSK. But for Dhoni’s intervention, the scorecard would have worn a more pathetic look.
Mumbai Indians, too, had endured a similar top-order collapse, as Sachin Tendulkar exited for a first-ball duck, trapped adjacent playing across to Dirk Nannes, and was shortly joined by fellow-legend Ricky Ponting in the hutch, mistiming a pull to the first slip off debutant Ankit Rajpoot. By the time they reached 75, the crux of their batting had fallen apart, with only Dinesh Karthik battling a lone battle (37 off 25 balls) among them. Soon, they were reduced to 83 for six, with just Pollard and the lower-order.
But just when it seemed that CSK were to go for the jugular, Pollard found an unlikely supporter in Harbhajan Singh (21 not out off 21), and together they forged a 65-run alliance that gave something for the Mumbai bowlers to bowl at. A total of 148 still seemed tenuous for parity. Pollard wasn’t his free-spirited self, but rather played judiciously and took more chances against spinners. Twice he biffed Ashwin over the ropes and once he meted out the same treatment to Jadeja. He didn’t spare his compatriot Dwayne Bravo either, as he was dispatched for a brace of sixes too. Jadeja would rue the dropped return catch, a sitter by his standards, when Pollard was just on 16.
It was a disciplined bowling effort by the Mumbai Indians, who secured their first win of the tournament this year. Though without their most successful bowler in the previous match, Jasprit Bumrah, they stuck to their task of stifling CSK’s batsmen. Bumrah’s replacement, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, was the pick of their bowlers as he not only dismissed the dangerous Bravo and Badrinath but also kept others on a leash with an economy rate of only 4.