India v West Indies, 5th ODI, Chennai December 11, 2011

Why Pollard owes Kohli

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the fifth ODI between India and West Indies in Chennai

The drop
While match-defining performances come easily to Kieron Pollard in his role as Twenty20 freelancer, there have been very few of them in his four-and-a-half years with West Indies. On Sunday, he was threatening to turn in one of them by rescuing West Indies from a hopeless 78 for 5. Even as he kept losing partners, he swung straight sixes at will. Virat Kohli, one of the safest fielders in the India team, was placed at long-on to latch on to anything Pollard miscued. On 99, Pollard duly chipped the ball to Kohli, who barely had to move as the ball came to him head-high. Amazingly, it burst through Kohli's hands and trickled to the boundary to give Pollard his first international century.

The start - 1
India's opening stand in the previous match was worth 176, at 7.82 an over. This time it lasted only two balls as Ajinkya Rahane botched his only batting opportunity of the series. Kemar Roach got a short-of-length delivery to stay low and Rahane was plumb lbw for a golden duck. Another man who had failed to grab his chances this series then walked in. Parthiv Patel had no half-centuries in three previous chances in the top order, but this was to be his worst game yet as he inside-edged Roach onto the stumps for a first-baller. Roach couldn't complete the hat-trick but had already sent the signal that this wasn't going to be another one-dayer in which the bowlers could be toyed with.

The start - 2
It had been nearly three years since Irfan Pathan had played an ODI for India, but in most matches since ESPNcricinfo readers have sent in mails and comments questioning his exclusion. It took him all of one delivery to make an impact on his return: he got the ball to swing in sharply, beating the inside-edge of Lendl Simmons to strike the pad for an lbw. Exactly the sort of swing-bowling that earned him a legion of supporters soon after he burst on to the international scene as a teenager.

The maiden
Irfan may have begun well with the ball, but his international comeback with the bat is not something he'll look back on fondly . Facing the befuddling variations of Sunil Narine for the first time, Irfan could barely get bat on ball as India hunted quick runs in the death. He was nearly stumped off the first delivery from Narine after failing to pick the legcutter. He defended one delivery back to Narine and was beaten three other times as he played out a maiden. It was the first of the innings, in the 49th over.

The six
Pollard is usually seen as a power-hitting slogger who doesn't have the technique to thrive in the 50-over format. He showed he could at the MA Chidambaram Stadium with a series of calculated straight hits; even mere pushes were clearing the ropes. In case there were any doubts about where his power-hitting had gone, he showcased it in the 16th over. Ravindra Jadeja sent in a length delivery which Pollard dispatched with an almighty swing way over long-on, all the way to the roof of the stadium. The only person more upset than Jadeja was the member of the groundstaff who was tasked with retrieving the ball.

The decision
The fielding side is rarely shy of belting out full-throated appeals even for half-chances. In the sixth over, Abhimanyu Mithun got one delivery to swerve dangerously close to Marlon Samuels' bat and barely appealed, though Parthiv Patel put in a loud shout for caught-behind. Mithun seemed fairly sure that it wasn't going to be given out, and was set to turn back to bowl his next delivery when he caught sight of the umpire Sudhir Asnani raising the finger. Mithun wore a sheepish grin as his team-mates rushed in to celebrate the wicket, a stark contrast to the shocked expression on Samuels' face.

The run-out
With a blaze of big-hitting, Pollard and Andre Russell were powering West Indies' chase. Both are supremely quick between the wickets as well. Gautam Gambhir, on the other hand, isn't among India's most fleet-footed or sure-fingered of fielders. A case in point is the third ODI in Ahmedabad, where besides several misfields he put down an absolute sitter from Pollard at short midwicket. That might have prompted Pollard to go for a tight single after hitting the ball towards Gambhir at short third man. Russell raced across but Gambhir's slide-rule throw caught him well short and snapped the momentum West Indies had built.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    India would need Irfan Pathan to beat Australia...with the likes of Mithun and Vinay..india can never take away their 20 wickets...Vinay is just ordinary...whose every ball is like ready to cross the boundary...and he is no great batsman either...Irfan is imperative in this case..

  • Venkiwaran on December 12, 2011, 11:11 GMT

    I guess Kohli is the most over rated fielder. If you go back and count the no. of catches he has dropped, he is a very ordinary fielder. With all his show and pomp, he gives the impression he is good. And someone needs to tell him that his reactions, gestures and expressions are silly and totally unprofessional. He has a lot to learn from the likes of Sachin and Dravid.

  • LuvThyGame on December 12, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    WI should try and resolve the gayle issue asap !! they desperately need him + Bravo to show for a decent batting line-up and create more winning opportunities... its a shame that the top 4 batting performances from WI in the series came from Rampaul, Ramdin, Russell and Pollard.. all lower order bats... i also wonder the role of sammy in the team.. he is a passionate cricket for sure.. but his purpose in the team is questionable.. he is a useless bowler in the ODI format.. his batting has nothing to write about... his place can be filled with another quality spinner (bishoo) in spin friendly conditions or a proper fast bowler (edwards) .. with russell, ramdin and rampaul they have decent strength in the lower order batting.. he has to GO...

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    If that is the case even Sehwag owes a thank you to that joke of a cricketer Sammy

  • ashokindeed on December 12, 2011, 8:53 GMT

    I think Kohli should have picked the catch of Pollard , if the match could have gone with Windies... anyways we won the match...

  • Precioustar84 on December 12, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    Agree with Vilander! Why Pollard wasn't given MoM was a surprise. If I had to guess it would be because Tiwary retired hurt and Pollard didn't cross the line. Either way, he seemed more deserving one out of the two. Anyway, congrats to Pollard for maiden ton. WI are far better competitors than England were in India. Well played both teams.

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    Why MoM has to be from the winning side? MoM should be the Man OF the Match. The Man who made a match of it was, undoubtedly, Pollard.

  • Ganes.V on December 12, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    Really need to check on Kohli. At times the way he bats slowling the run rate and fields without putting in that extra effort etc, it gives me that wierd feeling that he is involved in betting! Sorry to say this- I like him as a cricketer but still gives me those doubts and yesterday was one such day when he dropped Pollard. I am happy that Pollard got a deserved 100 but it should not have been at the cost of kohli dropping a catch- and after dropping it he just didnt even try running back to get the ball or stopping it! He just gave a shocked impression on his face and it looked as if he was just giving an impression! This is my view of how I thought I felt about the dropped catch.

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    congrats to pollard for his 1st century..

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 1:21 GMT

    Welcome back Mr. Irfan Pathan. You have been missed. I am puzzled at Indian selectors picking Mithun and Vinay ahead of Pathan -- do they actually watch domestic cricket (or select by looking at cricinfo stats for making selections). To have someone like Mithun (who is an honest trier at best, not express pace nor much swing, simply angling across ) picked ahead of Pathan is a mystery ( or corruption or regionalism). Irfan would rank in Top four Indian seamers of all time , despite his short 3-4 years stay at top (Kapil, Zaheer and Srinath being the other three). Mithun has to develop some wicket taking skill to get top order wickets, just enthusiasm is not enough. Ishant is similar (though much better) bowler and even he does not get many test wickets for same reasons. If you hit the deck hit it at 90 mph, if you swing, have good control while the ball is new or when it is reversing. Good hitting by Pollard & Russel, though India played one bowler short.

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