In 2012, Mumbai Indians qualified for the playoffs, but were knocked out of Indian Premier League V in the first eliminator.
This time around there was no such agony.
There is a lot of difference in the way the two seasons panned out for them and their star batsman Kieron Pollard as well.
The imposing West Indian all-rounder did not have a superlative IPL-V with 220 runs, including two half tons to show, at an average lingering around the 24-mark.
However, he was in the thick of things this season as he plundered 420 runs — 200 more than last year — at a remarkable average of 42.00 and an overwhelming strike rate of 149.46.
While it needs a collective effort to win over two months, one cannot deny that Pollard’s form played a key role in deciding Mumbai’s fortunes.
Coming in the death overs, Pollard either finished off the innings with a boom or chased down a tricky score with ease. His ability to hit sixes at will is most extraordinary. Just ask Thisara Perera.
While chasing 184 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai needed 62 off 24 and Pollard just made a mockery of the task. He made Perera look like a schoolboy and hammered 29 runs off him, completely swinging the pendulum in his team’s favour. Even the swiftest of fielders had no answer to his powerful strokes.
In the final against heavyweights Chennai Super Kings, Pollard put his best foot forward, blasting a quickfire 60 off 32 balls, which turned out to be a match-winning knock. Wickets kept tumbling around him but he seemed to be batting on a different wicket.
If his batting would blow the opponent away, his fielding would make Superman envious. Be it a match-winning catch to dismiss MS Dhoni early in the tournament or his one-handed pluck to send back Kings XI Punjab’s Shaun Marsh on April 29 in Mumbai, he was just sensational.
Interestingly, Pollard will also be remembered in IPL-VI for dropping Michael Hussey thrice off consecutive deliveries at the Wankhede Stadium on May 5 but as the cliché goes, ups and downs are part and parcel of the game. There were times in the tournament when his over-the-top celebrations caught the eye of many. It also invited criticism from a legend like Rahul Dravid.
A hit with the ball too
At times, Rohit Sharma turned to Pollard when his bowlers seemed lost in the woods. His slow cutters proved to be more than handy. In the game against Rajasthan Royals, he bowled just one over but bagged two vital wickets to halt the opposition’s progress. There is no doubt that his presence was worth its weight in gold for MI.
IPL thrives on spectators and Pollard was crucial to attract the crowd to the stadiums as well.
After MI broke the IPL jinx on Sunday, Harsha Bhogle asked Ricky Ponting, “How did the youngsters keep up with you and Sachin?” Ponting replied, “The way Pollard and others hit the ball, it is actually us trying to keep up with them.” Ponting didn’t have to say more.