MUMBAI: Kieron Pollard produced a splendid all-round display as Mumbai Indians thumped Royal Challengers Bangalore by 35 runs to storm into their maiden Indian Premier League final on Wednesday.
Pollard struck a 13-ball 33 to help his side make a splendid recovery from early jolt in company of Saurabh Tiwary (52 not out) to post 184 for five after batting first and then snared three wickets for 17 runs as the home side restricted Bangalore to 149 for nine in the first semifinal at DY Patil Stadium.
With the win today, Mumbai, who failed to reach the semifinals in the last two editions of the IPL, also became the first team to qualify for this year’s Champions Twenty20 League.
Chasing a stiff 185 for a win, last year’s losing finalists Bangalore were never in the game with wickets falling at regular intervals and no substantial partnership coming up, the highest being a 34-run stand between Rahul Dravid and Robin Uthappa from 20 balls for the third wicket.
Ross Taylor top-scored for Banaglore with a 30-ball 31. Jacques Kallis (11), Rahul Dravid (23), Kevin Pietersen (19), Robin Uthappa (26) could not convert the starts to big scores.
Lasith Malinga bowled beautifully by taking two Bangalore wickets and conceding 24 runs from his four overs. Harbhajan Singh took two wickets but was expensive, giving away 44 runs from his four overs.
At the end it was a comfortable win for Mumbai, who had topped the league tables with 20 points, the only point of concern was that captain Tendulkar, who is the top scorer in the tournament, suffered right hand webbing split while taking a dropped catch of Dravid in the fourth over.
Kallis and Dravid gave a strong start in Bangalore’s run chase scoring two fours each in the first two overs bowled by Zaheer Khan and Dilhara Fernando before the former fell in the third over edging Malinga to Ambati Rayudu for 11.
Run rate came down after the first jolt but Bangalore were dealt another blow in the form of Kevin Pietersen who danced down the track to hoist Harbhajan Singh only to completely miss it and Rayudu making no mistake of the stumping chance.
Robin Uthappa was not the one to be lie low and he hit Harbhajan for two sixes in the ninth over which cost 18 runs to take the asking rate down below 10 an over.
But it was not Uthappa’s day and in the next over he was caught by Shikhar Dhawan while trying to hoist Kieron Pollard for a 13-ball 26 which was studded with two fours and two sixes.
More woes awaited Bangalore as Dravid, who was surprisingly sent to open with Kallis instead of Manish Pandey, was run out in the next ball due to a horrible miscommunication with new batsman Ross Taylor.
Dravid did not call for a run after punching Pollard to point but Taylor came down charging in and Pollard whipped the bails to reduce Bangalore to 81 for four in 9.4 overs. From a dominating position when Uthappa was at the crease the game shifted quickly to Mumbai’s favour.
Pollard, who was limping a bit while batting, removed Virat Kohli in the 12th over for just nine, extracting an edge from the batsman for Raydu to do the rest.
Two overs later, the West Indian put Mumbai in complete control of the match by removing Manish Pandey for just five with the batsman holing out to JP Duminy near the boundary while trying to hoist a Pollard slow ball out of the park.
Harabhajan sealed the fate of the match in Mumbai’s favour by cleaning up Parveen Kumar’s furniture with a straight and full delivery which the batsman missed completely.
The asking rate over 13 after the 15th over, Taylor was the only ray of hope but the New Zealander did not find any support from the lower order batsmen as Bangalore ended at 149 for nine in their 20 overs.
Earlier, Tiwary struck a breezy unbeaten 31-ball 52 while Pollard used his long handle to telling effect to guide Mumbai Indians to a challenging 184 for five.
Mumbai lost in-form skipper Tendulkar (9) and other opener Shikhar Dhawan (12) cheaply but they recovered splendidly thanks to some sensible batting by Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu (40 in 38 balls) and through some big hitting by Pollard towards the end.
Abhishek Nayar (22) and Rayudu first steadied the innings and then the latter put on 67 runs in 49 balls with Tiwary for the fourth wicket to take Mumbai close to the 150 mark in the 18th over.
Towards the end, it was Pollard’s powerful bat that did the damage as he slammed 33 in only 13 balls with three sixes and a four to take the score past the 180 mark.
The last five overs produced 77 runs and the last three 43 as Mumbai batsmen went hammer and tongs. Mumbai scored 103 runs from the last 10 overs after they were 81 for four at the halfway mark.
Dale Steyn took two wickets but was expensive, conceding 43 runs from his four overs. Anil Kumble and Kevin Pietersen got a wicket each giving away 30 and 20 runs respectively.(PTI)