'It's an innings that won us the game and that is the most important thing'
Kieron Pollard turned 26 on Sunday.
The West Indies all-rounder wasn't part of the Mumbai Indians' squad that beat Pune Warriors a day earlier (down with mild flu), the first match he had missed this season, but spent his birthday preparing for the next outing.
On Monday, he earned himself twin presents.
For, Mumbai came back from the dead to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Wankhede, thereby maintaining their 100 per cent home record, and Pollard's 'match-winning innings' ensuring him the player of the match award.
It was indeed a special knock by a special player. Mumbai was down and out when the second strategic timeout was taken, needing 62 runs from the remaining four overs. The home side managed just four runs in the 16th over bowled by Dale Steyn and it seemed an impossible ask at that point.
Then Pollard took charge. His 27-ball 66 not out, inclusive of two boundaries and a whopping eight sixes, single-handedly winning the game for Mumbai.
"It's an innings that won us the game and that is the most important thing," said the player, before proceeding to elaborate on his point.
Image: Kieron Pollard of Mumbai Indians is congratulated by teammate and captain Rohit Sharma after hitting the winning runs on Monday
'I tried to choose the bowlers, who could be captalised on'
"It was very clear. The situation dictated itself, we needed 15 runs an over," explained Pollard.
"I got thinking as to how we can take the game forward. I tried to choose the bowlers, whom I could hit, ones I can capitalise on," he added.
The West Indies player targetted Thisara Perera and Amit Mishra.
While a whopping 29 runs came in the 17th over bowled by the Sri Lankan, with Pollard hitting a boundary followed by three successive sixes, the next over by Mishra fetched another 21 runs with the all-rounder clearing the fence on three occasions.
Mumbai had scored 50 runs in two overs and the course of the match had changed completely. Pollard struggled against Steyn's pace in the penultimate over before his successive sixes in the final over by Perera sealed a seven-wicket win for the hosts.
In the process, Pollard had completed his half century of just 20 balls, the second fastest fifty in this edition following Chris Gayle's 17-ball effort for Royal Challengers Bangalore – against Pune Warriors at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
Image: Kieron Pollard
'I have never been half-hearted on the field'
It was Pollard's best effort this season, surpassing the 57 not out against Chennai Super Kings at the Cheapuk in what was Mumbai's second match. Since then the burly Caribbean scores that made for a disappointing read: 13, 19, 1, 19, 33, 34, 20, 14, 1, 4. So much so that many former cricketers opined it was time for him to perform.
"I get up 1.30 in the afternoon and so I have not much time to read a newspaper," said Pollard, when asked about those critical columns, adding, "But at the end of the day everyone has opinion
"I am a cricketer and try my best every time. I have never been half-hearted on the field."
The player, albeit, admitted that bowlers have found a way out against him.
"I think when you play on a regular basis, your opponents tend to study you and find out ways to bowl well at you," said Pollard.
"But in the end it is all about backing yourself, and your batting," he added.
Image: Kieron Pollard