Big chases come down to 'backing yourself' - Pollard
When you face an asking rate of 15, you have no choice but to back yourself and go for your shots. That's what Kieron Pollard was thinking when he launched his brutal attack against the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers in the final four overs of the chase at the Wankhede, helping his team to a seven-wicket win and the top of the points table.
"The situation dictates itself when you walk in to bat [with the required rate] at 13 runs an over and if you block two balls, it gets up to 15 in no time," Pollard was quoted as saying by PTI, after the game. "It is a matter of backing yourself, the situation dictates itself and you have to play each ball on its merit and back your ability to clear the boundaries. Actually choose which bowler you want to hit, and capitalise."
Mumbai Indians needed 62 off 24 balls when Pollard and Rohit Sharma - who finished not out too, with 20 off 15 - took 29 runs of a Thisara Perera over. That was followed by 21 runs off Amit Mishra's legspin in the 18th and, though Dale Steyn produced a very tight 19th over, with just a run-a-ball required off the final two Mumbai Indians were in control.
Pollard's unbeaten 66 off 27 is made all the more significant by the fact that he was recovering from a bout of the flu. "I am still sniffling a bit. I missed the game against Pune, the flu," he said. "I came for practice yesterday, I was striking the ball pretty well. So once you are able to move and able to bat … I thought I was fit enough to play. The management decided obviously. We knew how important the game was and that was it."
Mumbai Indians coach John Wright said Pollard's was an "amazing feat". "What an amazing feat of hitting. I have never seen anything like that before," Wright told the IPL site. "We were always up against it in the run chase. And they got those wickets [of Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu] immediately after Sachin retired, so we didn't look like we were going to be winning the game but then that's what a player like Pollard can do. That's special."
Wright was also all praise for Rohit's captaincy. "He has stepped into the captaincy role and he looks the part. It is very early days yet but I think he is going to be a very good leader," he said. "We all contribute in our various ways but Rohit has taken to the job. He seems to be suited and the responsibility sits well with him - that shows through his performances with the bat and some of the decision-making on the field."
Rohit was named stand-in captain for Mumbai Indians a couple of weeks into their campaign, following Ricky Ponting's poor form with the bat. Since he took over, Mumbai Indians have won seven off eight games. Rohit is the team's leading run-scorer after 14 games, with 487 runs at 54.11 and a strike rate of 140.34.