The no-show and a delayed reaction
Kieron Pollard first burst into prominence when he butchered New South Wales in a match-winning 54 off 18 balls in the league stages of the 2009 Champions League T20. Expectations were high in the lead-up to the latest installment of the fixture - today's game. "Will we see a repeat of Pollard v Henriques today?", the CLT20 tournament CEO Sundar Raman tweeted, referring to the NSW seamer's figures of 3.3-0-49-1 in that memorable game. There was no repeat though, as Pollard combusted to an atrocious stroke early in the piece. With the top order already back in the dressing room, against Patrick Cummins who was thundering in at speeds exceeding 145kph in the fifth over, Pollard chose to crouch back in the crease and swipe across the line. The ball took out middle stump, while also disturbing leg and off. Curtains.
Harbhajan Singh's aim when he faced the penultimate ball of Mumbai Indians' innings was to turn the strike over to James Franklin, at the very least. He tried to pull a short ball from Cummins, but was too early into the shot, and bottom-edged it to the off side. The ball had gone nowhere, but Harbhajan ran across in search of a fortuitous single, even as Cummins charged down the track to collect. Harbhajan didn't even make the pretence of running at full tilt, and just ambled across hoping that Cummins would miss. He was out by a bunch of yards as Cummins' throw crashed into middle stump at the bowler's end. Cummins celebrated, Harbhajan nodded at Franklin and walked away, his job done.
The late realisation
It was one of those rare occasions when neither the bowler nor the batsman knew that the latter was out bowled. Abu Nechim got his first ball to skid on from a length and smack a flat-footed Shane Watson palpably on the pads. Nechim was convinced he had his man, and writhed in anticipation as he went up in a theatrical appeal for lbw. Watson looked up slowly too, with the body-language of a man who knew he was in trouble. Umpire Shavir Tarapore, however, did not give it out lbw, since the ball had spun back off Watson's pad and rolled through to hit the stumps.
The pressure reliever
There was little to choose between the teams in the first 32 overs of play. Both had lost their best batsmen to reckless strokes against disciplined bowling, and New South Wales' chances of a win depended on the lower order's ability to handle pressure. For those 32 overs, not a single six was hit - a rarity in Twenty20 games in the subcontinent. Smith chose that moment to break the shackles, pouncing out of the crease to launch a flighted ball from Yuzvendra Chahal for the only six of the game. The stroke oozed intent, and proved to be the turning point in the match: Mumbai Indians' shoulders drooped a touch, and Smith took NSW home without strife.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo