IPL has made many cricketers into superstars. Some of them have continued to ply their trade in T20 leagues while some have gone on to achieve big things in international cricket also. Kieron Pollard is one such man who became a superstar of the shortest format through his exploits in this league. But if one has to trace the beginning of Pollard's rise to fame, he would have to look at not an IPL game but one from the now defunct Champions League T20.
The inaugural edition of this tournament took place in 2009 and featured teams from IPL and domestic tournaments of various nations. One of the participating teams was Trinidad and Tobago from West Indies. It featured some very recognisable names like Darren Ganga, Dinesh Ramdin, Bravo brothers, Ravi Rampaul, etc.
When it all began
On October 16, 2009, in Hyderabad, the Caribbean side took on the eventual winners of the tournament – New South Wales of Australia. The latter team also boasted of big names such as David Warner (not a star yet) and Brett Lee.
The NSW team batted first and put 170 on board. The chase didn't go well for the Trinidadian side. Their top three didn't score much and the next three batsmen were run-out. When the sixth-wicket fell, Trinidad and Tobago still needed 53 runs from 28 balls. The two men at the crease were Sherwin Ganga – Darren's brother – and a strapping 22-year old all-rounder called Kieron Pollard.
Nobody outside West Indies knew about this player at that time. But what he delivered next made everyone who saw it remember his name prominently. He tore into the NSW attack and scored a devastating 54 off just 18 balls and led his team to an incredible come-from-behind victory.
What took everyone's breath away was the brute power of his strokes. His innings included five fours and an equal number of sixes. Such was the dominance of Pollard that in a 53-run partnership off just 19 balls, the contribution of the man at the other end was just 4. The man who bore the brunt of Pollard's blitzkrieg was Moises Henriques. Pollard picked up 27 runs in his third over which swung the match. The shots of Pollard went to most parts of the field. In the end, T&T were home with as many as nine balls to spare.
Pollard had made the world take notice. It was certain that soon, IPL teams would be chasing him with a contract. Nine and a half years later, Pollard is now a genuine superstar of T20 cricket and one of the biggest names in the league circuit. But it was the night of October 16 in Hyderabad that started his meteoric rise.