WILLOW: Trinidad and Tobago’s Kieron Pollard lofts over mid-wicket batting for the Mumbai Indians vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, in action from yesterday’s IPL fixture in Dubai, UAE. The hard-hitting West Indies middle-order batsman blasted a 48-ball top score of 78 (three fours and six sixes) in his team’s 157-5, in reply to Sunrisers’ 172-5. Mumbai suffered their fifth consecutive defeat in the league, losing to Darren Sammy’s Sunrisers by 15 runs. —Photo courtesy BCCI

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POLLARD SHINES

...but Mumbai lose again

West Indies middle order batsman Keiron Pollard struck 78 but that did not prevent Mumbai Indians from going down to their fifth straight defeat in their last five matches against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL match,
Pollard scored 78 off 48 balls, including five of his six sixes off spinner Amit Mishra in the 13th over to give Mumbai a shot at overhauling Hyderabad’s score of 172-5. But in the end Hyderababd beat Mumbai by 15 runs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad 172 for 5 (Warner 65, Rahul 46) beat Mumbai Indians 157 for 5 (Pollard 78, Pathan 2-10, Steyn 2-20) by 15 runs. In the 13th over, Pollard belted Mishra for 19 runs and signalled the first challenge from Mumbai.
A daunting 87 off 42 was being chipped away as it didn’t seem to matter whether Mishra gave the ball air or fired it in, Pollard revved up and mauled five of his six sixes off the legspinner, who ended with 0 for 54. At the other end, Ambati Rayudu ensured he wasn’t lost in the slipstream during a 77-run stand for the fourth wicket.
The equation was diluted to 31 off the final three overs, but that was when Sunrisers dug deep. Dale Steyn, as ever, delivered when it mattered, ceding only four runs in the 18th, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar just seven in the next, to put Sunrisers ahead going into Irfan Pathan’s final over.
When Sunrisers batted first, they gritted their teeth nearly ten overs without a boundary. David Warner was muzzled so profoundly that he was striking under 100 as late as the 15th over. But then he woke up. He used the slow start as a foundation and collected a half-century that proved the difference.
But his patience might have been a mere footnote had Pathan not delivered a brilliant final over. He had 20 to defend and the first ball sneaked through Kieron Pollard’s defences, seeing the back of a man who hit 78 off 47 balls is usually enough to seal the game, and it was. Pathan only gave away four runs.
The Mumbai Indians were flummoxed by the pace and swing of Steyn and Kumar. The asking rate rose north of ten in the fifth over and at 31 for three, recovery seemed a remote possibility. Only no one had bothered to clue Pollard in. After a jittery start, he remembered his penchant for brutality.
Mishra, a far cry from the one that turned up for India in the World T20, was razed for 27 in the 17th over. Rohit Sharma, who was confident today Mumbai would pull off their much-needed turnaround, began contemplating an improbable victory. But much to the birthday boy’s chagrin, his side just ran out of juice.
Sunrisers were conscious of their batsmen needing to provide better cover to their bowlers, and opted for Naman Ojha and Pathan to add depth. Ojha smashed the final two balls of the innings for fours and Irfan shouldered the burden of bowling the 16th and the 20th overs with consummate proficiency. Slower balls, yorkers and a refusal to hand width highlighted his two-over spell which ensured Steyn’s fearsome bursts and Bhuvneshwar’s control were not in vain.
Sunrisers’ batting resources were lumped too tightly at the top and an early wicket prompted a change of tactic. KL Rahul’s technical correctness was banked on to minimise the damage. Mumbai were adamant on not giving the batsmen any room and their fielders were no shy of hurtling after the ball if it was anywhere near their vicinity. They were desperate.
Rahul blunted the challenge, placing faith in his footwork against spin and nudges around the ground to keep the scoreboard ticking. He knew Warner was better equipped to lead the charge.
Harbhajan Singh did his best to plant doubts, constantly foiling Warner’s attempts to blaze away in the early goings with a remarkable control of flight and line. Warner fronted 16 balls from the offspinner and could summon only nine runs. But as the death overs came, Warner found his touch. Batting both right- and left-handed, he inspired Sunrisers to crash 73 in the last six overs.
Pragyan Ojha was carted repeatedly over midwicket and the partnership with Rahul blossomed to 101—Sunrisers’ second hundred-plus stand of the season and that was the partnership that forced Mumbai into a position of having to win almost all of their matches in the India leg to progress in the tournament.
Sunrisers Hyderabad 172 for five (Warner 65, Rahul 46) beat Mumbai Indians 157 for 7 (Pollard 78, Pathan 2-10, Steyn 2-20) by 15 runs
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