Pollard Blind Downs KXIP In Spite Of Rahul Century > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Pollard blinder downs KXIP despite Rahul century

Pollard made his highest IPL score whereas KL Rahul hit his maiden IPL hundred.

Kieron Pollard's incredible array of stroke-making in a superlative batting effort brought Mumbai Indians back from the dead in a steep run chase and handed Kings XI Punjab their third defeat of the season. After a topsy-turvy first-half to their chase of 198, MI were propelled by their fiercely determined stand-in skipper, who enabled the team to smash 133 off the last 60 balls - the most-ever - in a famous victory. In the process, the West Indian outdid a highly-commendable batting effort in the first innings from KL Rahul, who peeled off his maiden IPL century.

The Gayle-KL fire-and-ice

It wasn't until the fifth over that KXIP openers really dug their teeth into MI flesh. Jason Behrendorff put Mitchell McClenaghan on the bench with two impressive performances, but third time wasn't quite the charm for the Aussie. Gayle treated the left-hander with utter disdain, smashing three sixes and a four in an over. Rahul, who was the patient match-winner from KXIP's previous fixture, was the ice to Gayle's fire, acing his timing on delectable flicks and drives.

Hardik Pandya was toyed with too, as neither his attempt to bounce out Gayle or trick him with a wide full delivery brought respite. A 17-run first over was the start of an abysmal spell of bowling that finished as 4-0-57-2.

The pair glided past the 100-run stand, and Gayle reached a 31-ball half-century. MI attempted a late resurrection with Gayle's wicket in the 13th over, but Rahul had other ideas.

What followed?

KXIP's middle-order made scores of 7, 5, 8 and 7* - which on hindsight can be held against them for the defeat - and contributed to a lull following Gayle's exit. They went from 117 for 1 in 13 overs to 143 for 4 in 17 overs and were staring at a sub-par total. But a rare 16-run Jasprit Bumrah over and a feisty Rahul-Hardik face-off in the 19th suddenly put them on course for a total closer to 200. The Rahul-Bumrah tussle wasn't as one-sided as the previous one, and yet began with a six. Mandeep Singh ended it with a four to put 198 on the board, which at that point looked highly competitive.

Mumbai Indians' post-PowerPlay struggle

The home side matched KXIP run-for-run (50/1 to KXIP's 53/0) in the first six overs of the chase as Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav were getting reward for playing their shots on the typically fast Wankhede pitch. Ravichandran Ashwin brought himself on and mixed it up expertly - as has been the case all season - to tie down the batters. From the other end, Sam Curran and Hardus Viljoen kept piling on the dot-ball pressure that brought the dismissals of both the set batters. From 50/1 in 6 overs, MI slumped to 65 for 3 in 10, facing a never-achieved-before task - of hitting 133 runs in the last 10 overs.

The absolute contrast...

The chase had reached a stage where identifying and targeting a single weak link in the bowling attack would amount to too little. Which is why Kieron Pollard turned the game on its head by being the protagonist in another four-over spell - this time in complete contrast. Ashwin conceded 11 in his third over, ruined by hit-me sixth ball.

After his short-ball ploy was pulled away for a six over deep square leg, Curran offered length balls that too weren't spared. The over ended with Ishan Kishan's run out, but still ended up costing 18 runs. Viljoen, who bowled excellent lengths in his first couple of overs, came back to put a lid on the hitting arc of Pollard and Hardik Pandya, but was hard done by the umpire first up when five wide runs were given after the ball seemed to have run down to the fence after faintly hitting the leg stump. There was one more hit to the fence after which Viljoen fought back, but there was still considerable damage done with 15 runs from it.

Ashwin's final over officially signalled the start of a stellar comeback for Mumbai Indians as Pollard hit two straight sixes to add to a manic four-over frenzy - of 11, 18, 15 and 19 runs each.

The finish...

70 off 36 was brought down to 40 off 18, when Mohammed Shami came back for his final over. In all the drama that transpired, Pollard remained the constant, keeping Ashwin & his band of bowlers on their toes. Shami somehow ensured Alzarri Joseph - with 12 runs in 9 T20 matches before tonight's game - kept strike and nullified Pollard's big swing by bowling the hard length in the only delivery to the West Indian. But at 56 off 23, that one good ball wasn't going to suffice.

Sam Curran, handed the job in the penultimate over, made the cardinal sin of missing his length first up, and was met with a bullet-of-a-hit through covers for four. He came back with a dot ball - only because Pollard refused to relinquish strike at such a crucial juncture - but his next two middle-and-leg length deliveries were deposited in the second tier over long off and long on.

15 off 6...

All the while when Mumbai were turning the game around, Ankit Rajpoot was out nursing his finger that he injured during the PowerPlay overs. He still had to come back and bowl the final over with 15 to defend - a total dwarfed by Pollard's hitting till that point. Expectedly rusty, Rajpoot let one loose full toss slip out of his hands and get rightly sent to the deep midwicket stands. To his horror, there was a foot fault too. The resultant free hit ball was swivel punched for a four past the fine leg fielder, taking the equation down to just four off four.

Pollard handed over the task of completing the turnaround to Joseph as he holed out on the next ball, but KXIP saw that as an avenue to make the latest possible re-entry to grab the two points on offer. It came down to 2 runs off 1 ball, but Rajpoot erred on the final delivery - a straight, low full toss that the West Indian pushed past the bowler and scampered across for the winning runs.

Where do they go next?

It was exactly from this juncture where KXIP's 2018 campaign unravelled in the most dramatic fashion possible, as they went from six wins and a defeat in first six games to one win and six defeats in the next seven. They've begun the second-set of seven this year too with a defeat, but a home game against the lowly RCB at home on Saturday should help them recover from this blip.

MI will remain at home, and they too will host a team struggling for wins on Saturday - Rajasthan Royals.

Brief Scores: Kings XI Punjab 197/4 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 100*, Chris Gayle 63; Jason Beherendorff 1-35) lost to Mumbai Indians 198/7 in 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 83; Mohammed Shami 3-21) by 3 wickets

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