That Mumbai go into today’s game against Rajasthan Royals with a shot at emulating their opponent’s feat of finishing the league stages unbeaten at home is down to the brilliance of one man – Kieron Pollard.
His spectacular knock of 66 from just 27 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad, which included six sixes off seven balls amid a brutal two over spree, destroyed the visitor’s hopes of becoming the first side to conquer the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede this season. It was an innings which summed up the sort of player Pollard is.
All successful T20 sides have a player like that who is capable of coming in and altering the course of the game in a couple of overs. But under pressure, there aren’t too many better than the robustly built West Indian and from Mumbai’s point of view, it’s a good sign going forward.
Of course, I wouldn’t say this match necessarily offers a convincing indication of their ability to chase a huge score. The solid start from Sachin and Dinesh Karthik aside, they got home really thanks to that freakish innings from Pollard and Mumbai will know better than to be relying on a knock like that too often.
The clash against Rajasthan Royals today could well represent a preview of the final itself and should be exciting considering all that’s at stake.
Both sides are locked on 20 points so they each know that whoever comes out on top will take a step closer to finishing in the top two.
Mumbai, of course, will count on their fanatical home support to help them make it eight out eight home wins. It will be far from straight-forward though against an in-form Royals side spearheaded by perhaps the most in-form player of the tournament in Shane Watson.
The performances we have seen from Watson certainly make him one of the top three or four players in world T20 cricket. Ajinkya Rahane has also consistently impressed and skipper Rahul Dravid has been the surprise package of the tournament for me. We know Dravid to be a great Test player but I honestly didn’t expect him to be playing as well as he has been playing, at this stage in his career and especially in this format.
For that matter, Mumbai’s own veteran, Sachin Tendulkar hasn’t been doing too badly either. He again looked in good touch against Hyderabad till he had to unfortunately retire hurt, and hopefully it’s nothing serious enough to keep him out of today’s game.