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The Preview by Sidharth Monga
September 25, 2011
Match factsMumbai Indians v Trinidad & Tobago, September 26
Big PictureTwo years ago a regional team from the Caribbean Islands entertained and captured the imagination of - at least - the Indian crowds. They played merry cricket, and their celebrations included national flags, something no other team in the Champions League had. They were almost the home team, and one man in particular, marauding runs, diving to pull off incredible catches and saves, became the darling of the crowds.
Two years on, that man Kieron Pollard is the ultimate freelance cricketer. He plays Twenty20 cricket in India, Australia and England, sometimes even when West Indies are playing international cricket. When the said team, Trinidad & Tobago, were winning the Caribbean T20 this year - qualification for the Champions League qualifiers a by-product of that - Pollard was playing the Big Bash in Australia.
Pollard and T&T raise the classical money-league questions. Was Pollard because of T&T or T&T because of Pollard? How much does Pollard owe T&T, his first team? Has he outgrown T&T? The two parties have followed the classical money-league solution too. They have both moved on seamlessly. Pollard plies his trade all around the world, and makes more money that he can imagine making with T&T. There is the general practical acceptance - at least on the surface - that making money through playing cricket is no sin.
T&T too have got used to life without Pollard. They have put together another steady team playing merry and effective cricket, they have won the Caribbean T20 again, they were the best team in the Champions League qualifiers, and who should they face in their first match in the main draw? Pollard's IPL side that is philosophically the exact opposite of T&T. Mumbai Indians have bought the finest players money could buy and auction would allow, they have bought the finest coaches the facilities, they have looked after their talent well, and when they were faced with a deluge of injuries they managed to even get the playing conditions twisted to accommodate five foreign players.
Watch out for …Ravi Rampaul made it a habit to strike early during the past international season at home. The definition of "early" changes with Twenty20, but he has been doing it in the qualifiers, and will be crucial again, especially in Bangalore, a track not tailor-made for T&T's slower bowlers.
Lasith Malinga won Mumbai a game off his bat on Saturday; he bowled a few trademark yorkers too, but he will surely want to make bigger impact with the ball than 4-0-29-1, and T20 cricket knows he can.
Team newsT&T preferred the same XI in the qualifying leg, but given the better pace of the Bangalore pitch and the small boundaries they might want to add to the only specialist fast bowler, Rampaul.
Mumbai don't have too many choices with team selection, and are likely to retain their winning combination. The one concern for them is their South African opening batsman, Davy Jacobs, who is a doubtful starter after being stretchered off the field
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We are looking forward to meeting the Mumbai Indians with Kieron Pollard on board, and also the Chennai Super Kings with Dwayne Bravo on board, and we will be coming hard at them. We are hoping to pull off a victory over both teams, and the boys are looking forward to playing against players who were part of our set-up. I think getting victory over those guys in this tournament will be feathers in our caps."
"I think this win will set the tone for us to go forward. We have won this game and this will definitely boost our confidence. We would like to stay very humble in the remaining matches, and do what we can do at our best."
Harbhajan Singh, the Mumbai Indians captain, stays, well, humble after one Twenty20 win
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
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