Pollard trumps Dhoni in close clash
Mumbai Indians 148 for 6 (Pollard 57*) beat Chennai Super Kings 139 for 9 (Dhoni 51) by nine runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Not many sides win a Twenty20 game from 83 for 6 in the first innings. Not many sides have Kieron Pollard, who once again showed how much damage he can cause if he gets some time in the middle. On a pitch where both line-ups crumbled, barring both No. 6 batsmen, Pollard was the difference, although MS Dhoni almost stole the match from Mumbai Indians' grasp with an ever more outrageous counter-attack. Fittingly, with Chennai Super Kings needing 12 off six, Pollard intercepted what looked set to be another Dhoni six on the deep midwicket boundary, sealing the game for his side with an acrobatic catch.
Pollard had breathed life into a stalled Mumbai Indians innings, which had gone nowhere after Sachin Tendulkar had fallen leg-before to Dirk Nannes in the opening over for a golden duck. Ricky Ponting and Rohit Sharma soon followed Tendulkar. Although Dinesh Karthik looked in fine touch, when he departed for 37, Mumbai Indians were 59 for 4 in the ninth over and the Super Kings seamers were on top.
Pollard batted quite sensibly, willing to go without scoring for several deliveries, knowing that when he wanted, he could always collect six with his power and reach. Half of the 38 deliveries he faced were dots, but he also biffed five sixes. Even when he went for the big strikes, he wasn't taking risk. He would just lean forward to length or full deliveries and lift them over long-on.
From 83 for 6, to add 65 in eight overs, with Harbhajan Singh for company, was quite an achievement. Harbhajan's contribution, a run a ball 21, was crucial. Carefree swiping was put away and the strike was turned over. When it wasn't, to Pollard's disappointment in the final over, Harbhajan himself found the boundary. Pollard cracked Dwayne Bravo's final ball of the innings over long-on to ensure there would at least be a contest in the game.
There almost wasn't one, though, as the Super Kings batsmen played a series of poor shots to leave their side gasping at 66 for 5. M Vijay walked too far across to be bowled, Michael Hussey missed a slog to be bowled, Bravo drove loosely, and S Badrinath went too far back when he should have been forward.
Dhoni walked in, and the match started to turn. An upper cut appeared, a whiplash drive, a calm pull. Soon the long-on and deep midwicket boundary was being peppered with monster sixes, even as batsmen kept arriving and departing at the other end. Pollard took the most punishment, five of Dhoni's eight boundaries coming off him.
Forty needed off 18. Dhoni lashed 17 off a Pollard over. 23 needed off 12. Dhoni found the stands at deep midwicket again, this time off Mitchell Johnson, to zoom to 50 off 24. Both Pollard and Johnson sprayed a couple of wides each, such was the effect Dhoni's assault had.
First ball of Munaf Patel's final over, Dhoni went for six more, targetting deep midwicket again, but this time, the towering figure of Pollard stood in the way, and made one final, decisive impact.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo