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Moments after his team won a record fifth IPL title in Dubai on Tuesday, Kieron Pollard called the Mumbai Indians the best T20 franchise in the world. The team - which he joined in 2010 - stands out, he said, because of the focus on ticking all the right boxes, and how most of their uncapped players have graduated to play international cricket after excelling in the IPL.
"It is a great feeling, it means a lot," Pollard said after the five-wicket win over the Delhi Capitals in the final. "Having been here for 11 years, (a) fifth trophy is fantastic," he told former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop on the official broadcast. In addition to their five IPL titles, Mumbai have also won two Champions League T20 titles, in 2011 and 2013.
Pollard, who has been part of several T20 franchises in addition to winning the 2012 T20 World Cup title with West Indies, was asked if Mumbai were the best T20 team "going around" globally. "With the amount of trophies, the amount of work and the number of players that went on and played international cricket, play for India, play for their different respective countries, I think you will have to say so," Pollard said.
Pollard, who was the Player of the Match in the 2013 IPL final, admitted there was pressure to perform with a franchise that had been among the favourites for long, and had heavyweights including captain Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. This season, three more players were added to that list of stars - the uncapped Indian batting pair of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, and New Zealand strike bowler Trent Boult, who was the tournament's third-highest wicket-taker.
"The work that goes on behind scenes - no one sees the preparation, the planning, and to come out and actually deliver on the field," Pollard said. "It's pressure, yes, to play for a big franchise like this, but you can only get better as an individual if you take everything on board, take it with a pinch of salt, and take it positive.
"The way we plan, each and every box is ticked in what we want to achieve as a team. The openers, middle-order batsmen, finishers, death bowlers... we have an abundance of them in our team. Again, kudos must go to the ownership and the management staff and everybody for the work they do behind the scenes in order to the project this team in to the international stage. Long may it continue for us."
Pollard took the opportunity to rib fellow West Indies allrounder and fellow Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo, a Super Kings veteran: "Five trophies, that is a bit unprecedented. The closest now to us is three. Dwayne Bravo, you are behind now, I am in front of you."