Hardik Pandya played a special innings, before Kieron Pollard showed just how versatile a player he is, bowling a stunning final over to give the Mumbai Indians a vital victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2015 on Thursday.
Batting first, MI looked like they were headed to a below par total, before a blitz from Pandya (61, 31b, 8x4, 2x6) pushed them to 171/4 in 20 overs. In reply, KKR looked on course for victory as Yusuf Pathan played another mature little innings, only for Pollard to bowl an outstanding final over, giving away just six runs, when KKR required 12.
KKR are usually the masters of the chase, and they showed why by holding their nerves towards the end, when, a few times, it looked like it was all going awry.
Robin Uthappa (25, 20b, 3x4, 1x6) and Gautam Gambhir (38, 29b, 5x4) got KKR off to a solid-enough start, putting on 45 runs together in five-and-a-half overs, before the former paddled one straight to Lasith Malinga at short fine-leg off Harbhajan Singh.
Manish Pandey came and went immediately as a misjudged run and a brilliant throw from Lendl Simmons sent him packing. Then came a big partnership between Gambhir and Yusuf, with 42 runs coming in 5.1 overs.
Gambhir, though, could not see his side through, getting castled by Jagadeesha Suchith, a ball after he was dropped in the deep by Pandya.
Yusuf continued to show his maturity, and put on another crucial partnership with the returning Shakib Al Hasan (23, 15b, 3x4), before the game swayed in the home team's favour again as Shakib and, crucially, Russell fell in the space of a few deliveries. At the fall of Russell's wicket, KKR needed 42 from 24 balls, which was reduced considerably by Suryakumar Yadav, who hit three fours of R Vinay Kumar.
Suryakumar Yadav was dismissed by Mitchell McClenaghan in the first ball of the 18th over, leaving Yusuf to manoeuvre/smash the necessary 28 from 17 balls.
He nearly did it too, before a brilliant over from Kieron Pollard, where he picked up Yusuf (52, 37b, 5x4, 2x6) and defended 12 runs, finally won MI the match.
The first innings was all about Hardik Pandya, who made the difference between MI defending a score of over 170 instead of around 140-odd. In many ways this innings was similar to the one MI played against the same opposition in the opening match of the IPL – lose three relatively quick wickets, and then put on a partnership to repair the innings, with the difference being the Hardik Pandya special at the end of the innings this time around.
Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel could not the kind of start the middle order would have desired, with the opening duo and Ambati Rayudu falling in the space of a couple of overs to put the pressure on Rohit Sharma (30, 21b, 5x4) and Kieron Pollard (33 n.o., 38b, 1x4, 1x6), to put on a big partnership.
While the alliance was not a big one, which would have set the innings up, it did allow Pandya to go berserk in the end, which, in the end worked out quite fine.
Pandya was just outstanding on the night, showing his three sixes to win the match against CSK was not just a flash in the pan. This innings was not six-heavy, but there were plenty of boundaries, including four consecutive ones of Umesh Yadav in the 17th over.
The 19th over from Russell also went for plenty with Pandya helping himself to a couple of fours and a six, and that forward momentum took MI all the way past 170.