Questions were being raised, rightly or wrongly, over Kieron Pollard's continued inclusion in the Mumbai Indians playing XI in IPL 2016. Coming off an injury, which kept him out of the World T20, Pollard was finding it difficult to find his batting rhythm, while his bowling was virtually non-existent.
With players like Corey Anderson and Martin Guptill warming the bench, there were calls for Pollard to be dropped, after an underwhelming start to the IPL 9 season. However, the big West Indian silenced his critics in how own inimitable style, with a blitzkrieg against the form team in the IPL – KKR – at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
Coming in at a tricky time, with the Mumbai Indians chase in the balance, Pollard went smash-bang like only he can, scoring a ridiculous 51 from 17 balls to help his team, eventually, ease over the line, with all of two overs to spare.
"My role is to come at the back end and finish games," Pollard told IPL's official website. "There were a few games in the past I wasn't able to finish and I know there was a lot of talk going around about that. But I have played enough cricket and T20 games to know that these things happen.
"Our bowlers deserve a lot of credit for restricting a strong KKR batting lineup to 175 given the way they were going. It was a blistering wicket to bat on.
Indeed, so much so that Pollard thumped six sixes in his 17-ball stay, with a couple of fours in there as well. When Pollard walked in, following the big wicket of Jos Buttler, MI needed 69 from 42 balls. After the 16th over, that equation became just 26 from 24 balls, thanks to a 23-run over, in which Pollard smashed Rajagopal Satish for three massive sixes. Three more came off Pollard's blade in the fourth, fifth and sixth balls of the 18th over.
"When I got there, Rohit (Sharma) told me that it was a really good wicket and the ball was coming well on to the bat," Pollard added. "He told me that I should back myself to use my strength. My strength is to hit the ball down the ground and I backed myself to do just that."
Pollard would not have been able to do that if not for Rohit's own unbeaten 68 (49b, 8x4, 2x6). The Mumbai Indians skipper controlled the chase from one end quite brilliantly, allowing the likes of Pollard to do what they do best.
"Rohit's aim is to bat till the 15th over," Pollard said. "And wickets will fall around him. But he is an experienced player and he knows how to deal with those situations. He is doing justice to his talent at the top of the order.
"He has been wonderful for us as a player and captain, and he keeps doing it continuously. Guys in the top order have that opportunity to be consistent, and Rohit has been making the most of his. Long may his form continue and hope he keeps doing well for Mumbai Indians."
Watch the highlights of Pollard's innings HERE