Kieron 'Giant' Pollard's outstanding fielding effort in the deep that showed Kevon Cooper the exit was one of the highlights of Mumbai Indians' clinical finish against Rajasthan Royals here at Motera Stadium on Monday. In the do-or-die match, Rohit Sharma led-outfit registered a 25-run win to keep their hopes alive in IPL-7.
Chasing Mumbai Indians' 178/3, the Royals had a nervous start. Unmukt Chand (2), who replaced Ajinkya Rahane at the top, looked out of sorts. Pouncing on the opportunity, seasoned spinner Pragyan Ojha, in the third over of the innings, removed the Delhi batsman. Couple of overs later, Ojha ended Shane Watson's (5) stay.
Then came the moment of the match. Cooper, trying to hit Harbhajan Singh out of the park, was almost successful before Pollard, standing at long-on, came in the picture. The air-borne Pollard grabbed a one-handed blinder, but also took a couple of steps towards the fence before throwing ball inside the boundary. He quickly balanced himself and ran back, diving and picking up the ball inches above the ground.
The early jolts put the Royals on the backfoot from where they never recovered. Karun Nair (48, 24b) fought a lonely battle as wickets fell at the other end with the MI bowlers keeping the pressure on.
Brad Hodge tried his best towards the end with three mighty blows during his 69-run partnership with James Faulkner for the eighth wicket. But the distance they had to cover was long and the Royals eventually ended their innings at 153/8.
Earlier, electing to bat first, Mumbai came with a definite plan. Never before in the tournament they looked so composed. MI made a few changes, one of which was recalling experienced Michael Hussey. The southpaw made his intentions clear with his trademark shots through covers. Hussey and Lendl Simmons completed their respective half-centuries before departing in a span of three balls. Together, they added 120 — Hussey (56, 39b) and Simmons (62, 51b).
The situation was reminiscent of the KKR collapse here fortnight ago. But Pollard -- who got a life when wicketkeeper Sanju Samson failed to clip the bails off to run the West Indian out -- and Rohit Sharma punished the Royals. The captain showed some urgency and hit four sixes and three fours during his 19-ball cameo gathering 40 runs. In last three overs MI collected 29 runs to post 178/3 on the board.
"We are taking game by game and don't want to talk about play-offs. Certainly, today's win has boosted our confidence," Hussey said after the match.a 4-0-30-2, K Pollard 1-0-11-0, H Singh 4-0-13-2 (W1), S
MI WON BY 25 runs