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In Hot Seat, we present our writers with a tricky cricketing situation and ask them to captain their way out of it.
Scenario: The Mumbai Indians are playing the Sunrisers Hyderabad and need 70 from five overs. Six wickets have fallen, and Kieron Pollard and Rahul Chahar are in the middle, with Trent Boult, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah to come. The Sunrisers bring on Rashid Khan for his last over. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has two left, and Siddarth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed have one each - all three bowlers have gone for nine runs per over so far. Pollard was faced with this same situation versus Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League recently. He chose to block Khan, taking just four off the over, and then got the remaining 66 in the next four. As captain of Mumbai, you can send a note out to Pollard, telling him how to approach the final five overs, what to do against Khan, and who else to target. What does the note say?
Gaurav Sundararaman: Seventy from five overs has been achieved eight out of 15 times in the IPL. So it is not impossible, but Pollard needs to have at least two overs of 20-plus runs. Pollard's stats against Khan at the death while chasing are: 18 runs from 15 balls with one four and one six. So, the note would be to play out Khan and target the seamers. Also, I would ask Pollard to try to keep strike for all 30 balls. Score only fours and sixes and refuse singles, barring off the last balls of overs. He just needs 15 or so boundary balls out of the 30 balls left, so some dots are fine.
Sreshth Shah: You need to be there till the end. Minimise risk against Khan and shield your partner. A couple of twos and a single off the last ball is just fine. Kumar will likely bowl the 18th and 20th overs, so attack in the 17th and 19th. You can put pressure on Kaul and Ahmed by getting boundaries off their first balls. That could make them miss their yorkers, giving you some full tosses and length balls.
Don't commit to your shots too early. Feel free to say no to singles off Kaul and Ahmed. You need to face all 12 balls from them and get at least 36 of the remaining 70. That will leave you with 29 to get off Kumar. His yorkers are accurate, so stand outside your crease to mess with his length. Aim for 12 to 14 in the 18th and, if things go to plan, you'll need 15 to 17 in the 20th. Once there are six balls to go, the pressure will be on the Sunrisers, and we back you to finish the game. You've done this before.
Karthik Krishnaswamy: As Mumbai's captain, I'd just leave it to Pollard to figure out how to attack which bowler - the man has played more than 500 T20 games and won so many of them from situations like this. I'd leave it to him to decide whether to play out Khan or go after him. There's an opportunity from the other end, though, if the Sunrisers put extra fielders in the ring and look to keep Chahar on strike. If that's the case, I'd tell Chahar to pick two areas he's confident of hitting boundaries in and go after balls that give him a chance to hit into those areas. If the Sunrisers set regular fields to him, I'd tell him to take the singles on offer and give Pollard the strike as much as possible.
Vishal Dikshit: Mumbai's situation is similar to the one the Chennai Super Kings found themselves in against the Sunrisers in the 2018 Qualifier. The Super Kings were 92 for 7 and needed 48 from 30. Faf du Plessis was batting with the tail and had one over of Khan to face. He took just one run from that over, but the Super Kings still won with five balls to spare. So, my obvious message to Pollard would be to play out Khan's entire over, even if it is for a maiden. Once Khan is done, back yourself to the hilt against Kaul and Ahmed because Kumar has a tricky knuckleball, which makes it tougher for batsmen to clear the boundary.
Kaul tries a lot of yorkers in the death, so I'd advise Pollard to bat like his team-mate Hardik Pandya: go deep in the crease and across towards off stump, and target the long-on boundary. One last note: don't give the strike to Bumrah and Malinga.
Shashank Kishore: I'm going to assume this is happening in Sharjah, where the boundaries are small. For the last four overs, you have two bowlers short on international experience and a Kumar who may be a bit rusty after some injuries and niggles over the past year. So there's reason to show Khan respect. You can still look for boundaries down the ground as the straight boundaries are probably as big as the ones in your backyard, but only if Khan misses his lengths. If you get four, you can safely take a single late in the over. It doesn't matter if Chahar gets out on the last ball. Now, down to the last four. You need something in the range of 60 to 66. Dew will play its part, the ball will skid on. Trust your instincts, hit through the line. Even mis-hits will fly. Watch out for Kumar's knuckleball - hold your shape for a split second against him. Watch, watch, don't commit early. Even if you play 18 out of the 24 balls, we've got a good chance of winning.