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IPL 2021: Rare Successive Failures For Hardik Pandya & Kieron Pollard Cause Of Concern For MI

IPL 2021: Rare Successive Failures For Hardik Pandya & Kieron Pollard Cause Of Concern For MI

The consecutive failures of their two power-hitters - Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard - is the main reason for the indifferent start of the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021.

Mumbai Indians nearly suffered their second defeat in as many matches in IPL 2021 and only a late spirited effort by their bowlers saved the day for the two-time defending champions against the Knight Riders in Chennai. Although they scraped through to a narrow win, the batting performance of the Mumbai Indians, especially the way they finished was far from satisfactory. And the reason for that has been the failure of their two X-factors in the middle order – Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.

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There is a common script which connects the two batting performances of the Mumbai Indians at the start of their campaign in 2021. That is the joint failure of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard in the middle order. The Mumbai Indians were given a strong platform by their top order both against the Challengers and the Knight Riders but their number 5 and number 6 failed to capitalize and as a result there was no flourish at the death – something the team has got used to over the years and almost takes for granted.

Hardik came out to bat at 105 for 3 in the 13th over against RCB and was dismissed after scoring an uncharacteristic 13 off 10 deliveries in the 16th over. Pollard looked rusty and out of match practice and was sent packing for 7 off 9 deliveries in the final over of the MI innings. Mumbai Indians could only muster 24 runs in their last 4 overs and ended with a below par 159 for 9.

The story repeated itself at the same venue against the Knight Riders. Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav had provided the middle order the base to launch an attack in the last quarter of the innings. But it wasn’t to be. Hardik took 17 deliveries for his 15 while Pollard again looked a bit at sea managing just 5 off the 8 deliveries he faced in the innings before being dismissed. The team again ended with a much below par total of 152 which was easily overhauled by KKR.

One of the reasons for the collective failure of both Hardik and Pollard could be the slow nature of the Chennai wicket – the pitch aids the slower bowlers and the spinners and the ball does not come onto the bat. This is in contrast to their home wicket at the Wankhede which is a batting paradise and where Hardik and Pollard have annihilated bowling attacks and blasted them into submission.

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Pollard scored 268 runs in IPL 2020 and had the highest strike rate of 191.42 in the tournament. Hardik was at number two with a strike rate of almost 179. It was a similar story in IPL 2019 too. Hardik smashed 402 runs at a stunning rate of 191.42 – the second-highest again after Andre Russell. Pollard aggregated 279 with a strike rate of 156.74.

No target was safe when either Hardik or Pollard were at the crease. They provided the MI innings the necessary impetus on numerous occasions batting first often making the difference between a par total and a match-winning one. Their consistency was phenomenal and almost never did both of them fail in the same match.

MI need their power-hitters back in form for the remainder of the competition. It would be a good ploy to maybe separate the two and bat one of them – say Hardik at number 4.

The contributions of Hardik and Pollard in the middle order played a pivotal role in MI’s triumphs in both 2019 and 2020. If the side wants to achieve a hat-trick, they need their two destructive Ps to fire. And soon.​

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