He had been recently criticised for not being able to take his team home against Rising Pune Supergiants. And he answered back to the ‘brainless’ tag with a sensible knock under immense pressure at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday to take Mumbai Indians home against Royal Challengers Bangalore by 4 wickets.
Chasing 143 to win, Mumbai Indians were expected to stroll to the target on a flat deck in Bengaluru. But West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree had other ideas. Coming in to bowl in the third over, Badree scalped the prized wickets of Parthiv Patel, Mitchell McClenaghan and Rohit Sharma in a hat-trick registering effort to break the backbone of MI's batting.
That is when Pollard joined Nitish Rana in the middle with MI’s score reading 7/4 in the third over. The match was clearly back in RCB’s grip and it needed a herculean task from at least one of MI’s remaining batsmen to see the team avoid a humiliating loss at a ground where the average first innings score is 193.
And when the going gets tough, the tough get going. A pro in the shortest format of the game, Pollard brought all his experience into play — 361 T20 games including this one — to not only bail Mumbai out of trouble, but also ensure that they ended on the winning side by the end of the evening.
By the time Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Pollard for 70, Mumbai needed just 17 more runs with 15 balls in hand and four wickets in the bag.
In between, not only did he stitch a 93-run partnership with the ever-improving Krunal Pandya, but also showed great restrain to hit only five sixes and three boundaries during his 47-ball innings. In the process, he also became the 5th batsman in T20 cricket to score 7000 T20 runs.
It was a truly Man of the Match winning show after Badree had ensured that Mumbai Indians fans had their hearts in their mouths.