Big-hitting West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard says the gamble Mumbai Indians took worked for the team in the win over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
The 24-year-old Trinidadian, who scored a blistering 64 off 33 balls and grabbed four for 44, referred to bringing back pace spearhead Lasith Malinga to bowl the 15th over and his promotion in the batting order, as the two gambles taken by his team. "We took a gamble in bringing back Malinga (in the 15th over) to get a wicket as Owais Shah was batting pretty well. So we took the gamble and it worked for us. Some days it would work, some day's it wouldn't. "This is T20 cricket. It just takes just one chance and one over to change the game," he said after MI's 27-run victory last night that pitchforked the team into the top of the league table.
Malinga stumped Royals' charge by getting rid off Shah, who made a belligerent 76 off 42 balls, off the first ball of his new spell, which turned the match in MI's favour.
About his promotion in the batting order Pollard said, "I batted at 5 today. (In the) first game I didn't bat, (in the) second game I batted at 7. Some days it would come off, some days it wouldn't. Today it was a good day and it came off. "I just play my game and know exactly what to do. I am coming off a series against Australia (T20 and ODI). It's just a matter of continuing (what I did), adapting to the conditions here in India, continue what I was doing. I would take it from there, game by game and situation by situation (batting higher up)," he said.
Against Australia in the ODI series, he mustered knocks of 4, 47 not out, 36, 102 and 33.
Shah is happy that he was finally getting an extended run for his new franchise in the Twenty20 tournament.
"I feel like having a proper run in a (IPL) side now, finally. I did not really play for Delhi when I was with Delhi (Daredevils). I got four games for Kolkata Knight Riders. I played three games for my country last year. "I thank my captain, coach, vice captain for showing the faith in batting me at no. 4. I got a few runs. I have been in that situation lesser times for the 20-20 teams that I have played over the years. I guess you should use your experience, try and keep up with the rate and do the basics right."
Shah, who struck five sixes and as many fours in his knock, however, pointed out he was not a Pollard or a Chris Gayle to belt the leather off the ball. "I am not a big hitter of the ball. I am not a Pollard or a Gayle, I don't want to be one of those, just want to win the game for my team," he said candidly.
"You need to have self-belief, especially when they perform well they get into the zone a lot sooner than others. If you don't have self-belief you are going to struggle at the top level sport. I will keep doing what works for me when I chase a target," he added. He praised the track prepared for the game. "The wicket played beautifully, beautiful batting conditions (were on offer) which is shown by the fact that nearly 400 runs were scored tonight. It shows it s a good pitch."
Shah, who informed he was available for the entire duration of the tournament as a temporary replacement, said it was too early to say whether the team has gelled nicely. "(It was) just the third game for Rajasthan Royals. I think the team is coming along nicely. True reflection as an answer to that question will come when games10, 11 and 12 come, when we would have been together for long, and would need to win in a pressure situation. We have been together for only a week. "We have a very good and calm captain which is very nice," he said about Rahul Dravid.
Shah, who has played county cricket for Essex and Middlesex, hailed young batsmen Ajinkya Rahane, his Royals' teammate, and MI's Rohit Sharma as supremely talented players. "(Am) lucky to play with Ajinkya Rahane, he's a phenomenal talent. His 98 in the first game was a wonderful knock. (I have) watched Rohit Sharma play some great knocks over the years. "It's fair enough having talent, but it's all about performing on the big stage. I think time will tell when they both get a good run in the Indian team as to who the top player is. "They are both beautiful to watch, very talented and very good fielders. They got to get a chance at the top level to see who has got the mental toughness to perform for India."
About Royals' team-mate Kevan Cooper, a revelation in the tournament, he said it was too early to put him on the same pedestal with his Trinidadian compatriot Pollard. "He (Cooper) is a very talented guy. I played (for South African franchise Cape Cobras) against him (representing Trinidad and Tobago) in the Champions T20 League (game) in Chennai. He's a very canny bowler and a guy who can smash the ball out of the park, a very good Twenty20 layer. Cooper took one for 25 and made 25 not out in 11 balls in a winning cause for Trinidad while Shah, despite top-scoring with an unbeaten 63 off 50 balls, couldn't help his side cross the line. "
"But I guess he needs to put in a lot more winning performances to be in the same bracket as Kieron Pollard, but a very talented guy and the future of West Indies cricket is very good."