Pollard does it for Mumbai

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Pandya revels again; KKR batsmen cave in under pressure

Kieron Pollard’s spectacular final over helped Mumbai Indians register a five-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League game on Thursday.

Yusuf Pathan’s responsible 52 was not enough for the visitors to cross the victory line, ending on 166 for seven in 20 overs. MI extended its winning streak at home, moving to 14 points with a game left. KKR remained on 15 after 13 matches, creating a must-win situation in the concluding tie against Rajasthan Royals at the Brabourne Stadium.

Pollard’s last-over heroics marked a productive day for him, building on a controlled batting performance earlier with one four and a six. Harbhajan Singh (4-0-31-1) put the brakes on Uthappa by baiting him into sweeping towards square-leg. Lendl Simmons broke the striker end stumps from fine-leg to beat a desperate dive by Manish Pandey.

KKR slowed from a canter (45 for one in five overs) to a stumble (89 for three in 11 overs), losing Gambhir in a rush of blood, stepping out to drive against Suchith and beaten by turn.

Fine catch Shakib Al Hasan, promoted to number five on return to the squad, lost his poise under pressure to accumulate runs quickly.

The Bangladesh all-rounder swung wildly across the line and Andre Russell followed suit, stepping back for a cut against a wide ball from Malinga and snicking behind. Suryakumar Yadav flicked towards fine leg for a fine running catch by Rayudu.

MI clawed back from trouble at 79 for four earlier to a fighting score against a versatile bowling line-up. Pollard (33 n.o., 38 balls) took a step back in a cautious stand with free-spirited Hardik Pandya (61 n.o, 31balls, 8×4, 2×6), whose fluent strokeplay and confidence on a slow track facing a star-studded attack, stood out.

KKR’s depth and class in bowling came through till Pandya overshadowed mighty Pollard in a 92-run fifth-wicket stand. Umesh Yadav leaked 18 runs in his second over, deflating the pressure built up painstakingly by teammates, especially slow bowlers Sunil Narine (4-0-38-1), Shakib (4-0-22-2), supported by pacer Morne Morkel (4-0-27-1)

Gambhir unleashed Morkel on MI after opting to field at the Wankhede, followed by Shakib angling the ball into the openers, both Simmons and Parthiv displayed attacking intent as the Powerplay overs fetched 46 runs. It was 67 for three at the halfway mark.

KKR taunted Pollard with a backward short leg, forcing Rohit to cut loose against leg-spinner Chawla.The match took a twist in the the 12th over, Narine’s second, when the spin ace deceived Rohit with a vicious ball, pitching on the middle stump and snaked across to topple off-stump.

MI suffered a body blow, forcing a restrained Pollard to force the pace. Russell did his job at this stage, keeping the strongman in check, followed by Shakib tying the West Indian in chains from the other end.

MI’s desperation to break free from the stranglehold showed in Pollard’s restrained batting, giving his spunky partner Pandya to show off his talent. The unsung Baroda all-rounder smashed four back-to-back boundaries off Yadav in the penultimate over. A swivel and pull to mid-wicket was the best, a cut towards third man off an attempting wide yorker showed presence of mind.

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