Before the match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede stadium, the hosts suffered a jolt with Rohit Sharma being ruled out due to injury. KL Rahul flattened the hosts with his maiden century in this tournament. Mumbai Indians had almost botched up the chase with 54 needed off the last four overs. Kieron Pollard, who was captaining the side, produced one of the best knocks the tournament has ever seen and his 83 off 31 balls, which included just three fours and 10 sixes, buoyed Mumbai Indians to their highest successful run-chase at home in the IPL as they chased down 198 to win by three wickets off the last ball to keep their campaign alive in the IPL 2019 encounter on Wednesday.
Pollard’s calculated assault laid the blueprint of how to approach a chase in Twenty20s. Chasing 198, Mumbai Indians opened with Quinton de Kock and Siddesh Lad, the local Mumbai player who had been doing well in the Ranji Trophy for the 41-time champions and was on the fringes for the last couple of seasons. Lad began in grand style with a six and a four of Ankit Rajpoot and De Kock followed suit, smashing two boundaries off the pacer.
Mohammed Shami, who conceded just three runs in the first over, got rid of Lad for 15 but Suryakumar Yadav began in grand style with three boundaries off Rajpoot, who conceded 37 runs in his three overs. Yadav’s belligerent knock ended when he was dismissed by Sam Curran for 21 and at the half-way stage, Mumbai Indians needed to score at a required rate of 13.3. Pollard stepped up a gear by mauling Ravichandran Ashwin for his first six but he really tore apart Sam Curran by hammering a four and two sixes in the 12th over. Despite losing Ishan Kishan, who had replaced Yuvraj in the side in the same over, Pollard was in that zone now.
Hardus Viljoen leaked 15 runs in the 13th over thanks to some wides but the game was poised on a knife-edge when Pollard smashed two sixes off Ashwin. Kings XI Punjab fought back in the 16th over when Shami, the best bowler of the day, got rid of both Hardik and Krunal Pandya in the same over. Pollard, though, continued to hit sixes for fun and he deposited Curran for two more sixes to bring up his fifty off 22 balls. Alzarri Joseph gave Pollard company with a couple of boundaries and in the 19th over, the game swung Mumbai Indians’ way when the West Indies all-rounder blasted two sixes and a four off Curran to bring the equation down to 15 in the last over.
Rajpoot, who had struggled all day, bowled a no-ball and the free-hit resulted in 10 runs but the bowler had his revenge when the Mumbai Indians skipper holed out to deep midwicket. With two runs needed off one ball, Joseph struck a firm blow to long on and a misfield resulted in Mumbai Indians securing a big win and it also put in vain KL Rahul’s brilliant knock.
Rahul ton in vain
Kings XI Punjab batted first and started slowly but Chris Gayle broke the shackles by clobbering three sixes and a four off Jason Behrendorff as the bowler leaked 23 runs in the fifth over. Rahul slammed a four and a six off Joseph as the partnership went past 50. Mumbai Indians’ bowlers were struggling to break the stand and Gayle continued on his merry ways, depositing Hardik Pandya into the stands. The West Indies left-hander notched up his fifty and continued hitting sixes at will but his knock of 63 off 37 balls came to an end when Behrendorff got his wicket.
However, the 116-run opening stand had given Kings XI Punjab a great platform and despite losing David Miller and Karun Nair, Rahul held firm. The right-hander targeted Hardik Pandya by clubbing him for three sixes and a four and he notched up his maiden 100 by clipping Jasprit Bumrah for a couple. Rahul has been in special form in the last couple of games and he is peaking at the right time, with the team scheduled to be selected for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on April 15. It was a special knock, but it was trumped by a freakish knock from Pollard.