Hardik Pandya, who returned to form on Thursday with a destructive 11-ball 30, revealed that the management sent him in with a clear message - to start tonking the white cherry from ball one. Post Pandya’s arrival, Mumbai blasted 67 runs in 23 balls, an onslaught which was also aided by Pollard.
With scores of 14, 18 and 15 in the first three games of the season, and coming on the back of underwhelming performance in the Super Over, there was considerable pressure on Hardik Pandya when he walked in to bat at No.6 on Thursday. Given Mumbai had already registered two defeats from their first three games, the defending champs needed their talisman to get back to his best versus Punjab and the all-rounder obliged, striking a thunderous 11-ball 30 - an onslaught which included 3 fours and 2 humongous sixes.
Pandya hit a six on just the second ball he faced and speaking post-match, in a chat with his brother Krunal, the 26-year-old revealed that he was sent in with a clear message to go for broke from ball one. The right-hander also revealed that MI, who posted 192, got more than they aimed, thanks to the bat of the big-man Kieron Pollard.
"The number of times Pollard and I have done this, I've always enjoyed it. It was a clear message for me that I had to go and get some big runs at the end and get to a total that the Kings XI (would) find difficult. We didn't aim for 192, but we were lucky enough that the big man (Pollard) has done it again,” Hardik Pandya said in a video posted on IPLT20.com.
With both batsmen well-set, Pandya and Pollard were offered a gift in the final over by KL Rahul, who decided to throw the ball to off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham. The over eventually went for 25 runs, and Pandya revealed that both he and Pollard were drooling when they saw the off-spinner come into the attack.
“An off-spinner bowling the 20th over was mouth-watering. It was very intense. Me and Pollard thought, whoever misses has to stand at the non-striker's end and watch, and that was me today. I missed two balls."
Hardik was not the only successful Pandya on Thursday as Krunal, too, made a significant impact, bowling a tight spell of 1/27 to strangle the KXIP batsmen. The elder Pandya revealed that he was determined and bowled according to the field set-up and expressed his satisfaction over having successfully executed his plans, which also included bowling yorkers.
"I just made sure I bowled according to the field and I was very determined as well. I thought if I bowled well here, we can get back into the game,” said Krunal.
"The batting skill is so high, and the wickets are also batting-friendly, so you have to find your own way to ensure that the batsman doesn't go after you. At the end of the day if you execute your plans well, it's very satisfying."
The Pandya brothers’ impeccable display on Thursday propelled their side, Mumbai Indians, temporarily to the top of the table.