Mumbai Indians weren't the only team who won today

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BCCI

IPL 2018 | Winners and losers ft. Kieron Pollard, Yuvraj Singh and everything in between

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Bastab K Parida

05/17/2018

Mumbai Indians have lived up to their reputation of being perennial late bloomers and caught Kings XI Punjab off guard to take the fourth place on the points table today. However, the biggest disappointment of the day had to be Yuvraj Singh, whose IPL career seems to be all but over at the moment.

Winners

Kieron Pollard shrugs the monkey off his back 

The IPL is filled with sporadic match-winners and thanks to the short duration, T20s often allow teams to play at least one player who is not there for the consistency. Looking at Kieron Pollard, who for some reasons, has been touted as an all-rounder but bowled a total of 7.5 overs in the last three years of the IPL, the things directly come to the head.

While he always plays as a specialist batsman and a fielder, he has never been used by Mumbai sparingly and when he comes out to bat, it was basically in the last five overs, where he, more often than not, has been undone by the spinners, which eventually led to his non-selection after scoring 76 runs seven matches. However, Pollard is known for bringing in impact to the side and that’s why he has been big bucks for. 

A quickfire fifty here and there makes him the big star that he is in the T20 milieu and something that he couldn’t bring in this year. However, in Mumbai’s match for survival, Pollard repaid the faith and scored a fifty to save the team from the initial slump. This innings may make sure for a place for him for the rest of the season if Mumbai manage to go all the way and who knows for 2019 as well. 

RCB, RR and of course MI

With the win today, Mumbai have now kept their qualification hopes alive and now, they have an easier proposition in the form of Delhi Daredevils in their last game and will have a great chance of making the playoffs thanks to their superior Net Run Rate of +0.384. And now, Royals have Mumbai to thank - for not allowing Kings XI Punjab to secure two more points. And if the Jaipur-based franchise will only have to win their last game, and then hope that Mumbai do not go to 14 and even if they do, KKR lose their final game against SRH. 

Same applies for RCB as well and if they can win by a huge margin against SRH and Kings to go past Mumbai’s NRR. Otherwise, their best chance is if they can win win their last two games, and secure 14 points. After that, however, they can hope that Mumbai lose to the Daredevils, or KKR don’t win their last game and stay on 14. A superior run rate will help them sneak through the table to secure a place in the top-four. 

Losers

Ashwin’s confusing captaincy

Picking up a wicket is a cognitive process, where one knows exactly how to get the batsman out rather than throwing every trick at the batsman, hoping for a mistake. Being a bowling captain, Ashwin knows how to plan a dismissal, but his tactics today was a bit surprising. 

In the middle-overs, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya kept Punjab at bay and blazed to a 65-run fifth-wicket stand. After Rohit Sharma’s dismissal, Ashwin employed Marcus Stoinis form one end and used Axar Patel from another to check the run flow. While Axar was economical, a couple of overs later when Stoinis got hit for 19 runs, conventional wisdom suggested that stopping pacers right away and the employment from spinners to exploit Pollard’s apparent weakness against spin. 

Instead of bringing himself in the 14th over, Ashwin gave the ball to Ankit Rajpoot, who went for 18 runs and by then, the duo were all set to take the team to a good total. So, it was apparent that Ashwin was saving himself for the death overs. While he had two overs of Andrew Tye to bowl in the death, he had two options in front of him - either to complete his quota of overs or to trust Mohit Sharma, who had got hit for 25 in his first two overs. Ashwin, who had picked up one wicket by then, opted for the former and that may have triggered from the hope of exposing Ben Cutting’s weakness against spin.

However, when he came in to bowl the 16th and 18th over, he bowled exceedingly well and conceded only 13 runs while picking two wickets. While he could have easily bowled the last over, he, instead, leaned towards Mohit Sharma to bowl, which could potentially be avoided. 

Yuvraj Singh - an epilogue of a career filled with grit and glory

The stage was all set for Yuvraj Singh to turn the clock back and guide Kings XI Punjab to a memorable victory. The team needed 17 runs from 6 balls and it was an uncertain situation for any team. However, Yuvraj had the edge of having Mitchell McClenaghan as his bowler to pick and considering the Kiwi’s inconsistent performances in the death overs lately, Yuvraj would have fancied his chances. 

To make matters easier for him, McClenaghan bowled a ball wide outside the off-stump, which Yuvraj of the yore could have easily smacked for a six. But the Yuvraj of today failed to get a connection and to make matters worse, he got out in the following delivery to bring an end to all the hopes of Punjab fans.

While it was very sad to see Yuvraj struggling like the way he did today, it might potentially prove to be his final IPL game. The epilogue has probably been written and here the world may be witnessing the fall of man from grace whose legacy in the shorter formats is no less than illustrious. 

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