MI vs CSK, IPL 2021 Talking Points: Mumbai chase down highest total as Pollard dominates

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Source: IANS

Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings 218/4 in 20 overs (Ambati Rayudu 72*, Moeen Ali 58; Kieron Pollard 2-12)lost to Mumbai Indians 219/6 in 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 87*, Quinton de Kock 38; Sam Curran 3-34) by 4 wickets.

The odds oscillated between Chennai and Mumbai in a game where ober 430 runs were scored. After being set in to bat first, the Chennai Super Kings made the best use of the conditions on offer as Moeen Ali and then Ambati Rayudu played blinders to take the team to a competitive target. Chasing close to 200, Mumbai started off in aggressive fashion but quick wickets threatened to hamper their run chase. It was all down to the West Indian Kieron Pollard, who has time and again been a saviour for the franchise. The player smashed an unbeaten 87 off just 34 balls to take his team to their first-ever run chase of 200+.  

Here are the talking points from the match between the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. 

It was all about Kieron Pollard!!

A few days after Ravindra Jadeja and Harpreet Brar set the stage with their all-round showing, it was Kieron Pollard who stole the show with his blistering knock that followed a crucial spell with the ball in the middle overs. The West Indian sent down two overs and picked up the prized scalps of Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina off successive deliveries to stall the run flow. It was with the bat, however, that Pollard was at his amazing best, leading Mumbai to what looked like an improbable win at one stage. After a quick start, the defending champions had slipped to 81 for 3, and looked in deep trouble before the West Indian displayed his brute power to take his side over the line. 

On a venue where a player did not have to middle the bat to get the ball to sail away for a six, CSK bowled some loose deliveries and did not go short, as Pollard got his eye in. Pollard got going in the 13th over – three overs after he walked out – as he sent Ravindra Jadeja for three big sixes. There was no stopping the player after that, as CSK went on to concede as many as 39 off the next two overs. Lungi Ngidi failed to get his lengths right as Mumbai needed 50 to win off the final four overs. Though Sam Curran gave away just two runs in the 17th over, luck favoured Pollard as he saw Faf du Plessis drop a regulation catch in the deep. In the last over, Ngidi bowled a couple of excellent yorkers, but Pollard managed to squirt it away to the boundary as Mumbai recorded the second highest run chase in the history of the Indian Premier League. 

Moeen Ali has raised the ‘intent’ game for CSK 

Last season, Chennai Super Kings were criticized for their lack of intent that saw them lose a number of games that they should have won. To correct the same, they got in Moeen Ali for the 2021 season and fitted him at the number three slot, and the move has worked wonders. Last season, the franchise had played Ambati Rayudu at the number three slot, and though he averaged 31.5, he could only strike the ball at just over 121. The middle overs, thus, was a huge disappointment for the franchise, with Kedar Jadhav and M S Dhoni not able to up the ante either. Ali, who has plenty of experience at the number three position, had found himself warming the benches in the recent T20 International series against India, and he has answered back strongly with a clinical showing in the ongoing Indian Premier League. 

In six games thus far (he missed one match due to a tight hamstring), Moeen has scored 190 runs at a strike rate of nearing 149. With Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rayudu (who has been batting lower down the order, where he played for Mumbai Indians in the past), all in terrific form as well, the CSK unit have looked dangerous. Though they lost against Mumbai Indians, they still have five wins from seven encounters and are well on course to book a top four berth. 

Rohit Sharma needs to score at a quicker pace

Undoubtedly, Rohit Sharma is one of the biggest match winners in the shortest formats of the game for India. He has accumulated plenty of runs in the IPL as well, scoring a stunning 5480 runs in 207 games at an average of 31.49. However, his strike rate in the last few years has been a bone of contention. The Mumbai Indians skipper has a strike rate of less than 130 in the last three editions (including 2021). He had struck at a rate of 133.02 in 2018, but was scoring at a rate of 121.97. His slow starts have often made him a liability, especially in the powerplay overs, which only puts pressure on the batsman at the other end. 

In the first six overs this year, Rohit has scored 153 runs at an average of 76.5, but at a strike rate of 127.5. In the middle overs, his strike rate drops to 119.6. With the rest of the batters from the side yet to hit top gear, there has been a lot of pressure on the finishers. Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya have not shown glimpses of their might this season thus far, which has only meant that Rohit’s slow-paced batting has left Pollard with a lot of ground to cover.

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