Having seen his Caribbean Premier League team play unbeaten for 12 matches, there was finally a defeat for Kieron Pollard yesterday.
Having led his Trinbago Knight Riders side to the Caribbean Premier League title ten days ago, Pollard was on the losing side when his Mumbai Indians went down by five wickets to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the side of TKR teammate Dwayne Bravo, in the opening match of the 2020 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Bravo, who did not bowl in the CPL final against the St Lucia Zouks because of injury, was not in the CSK line-up yesterday.
The IPL’s delayed season got off to a low-key start with three-time winners Chennai taking the points against the defending champions Mumbai in the curtain raiser for the eight-team tournament which is being played in Abu Dhabi.
Chennai, having restricted Mumbai to 162 for nine, romped home with four deliveries to spare with Ambati Rayudu (71) and Faf Du Plessis (58 not out) spearheading their chase. They ended on 166 for five.
The world’s richest Twenty20 league was originally scheduled to be played in India from March 29 but was rescheduled in the United Arab Emirates because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The usual carnival-like atmosphere, however, was missing in the contest which took place without spectators in the stands as a safety measure.
Spilled catches and misfielding indicated that the players, most of them featuring in competitive cricket for the first time in months, were not at their sharpest.
Put in to bat, Mumbai could not capitalise on the strong start they got from Quinton De Kock (33) and skipper Rohit Sharma (12) who fell in successive overs.
Du Plessis took two spectacular catches near the rope to send back Saurabh Tiwary (42) and Hardik Pandya (14) in the same Ravindra Jadeja over to peg back Mumbai.
Fellow South African Lungi Ngidi claimed three wickets, including that of the dangerous Pollard for 18, as Mumbai managed only 41 runs in the last six overs, losing six wickets in the process.
Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir was critical of Mumbai’s use of Pollard at number six in the batting order. He said on the ESPNcricinfo website: “I was a bit surprised that they didn’t push Pollard at number four or five. Putting him at number six was probably a lot lower than I was expecting because of the kind of form he showed in CPL. Probably bad management from (Mahela) Jayawardene and Rohit Sharma....the only guy who has played some form of cricket is Pollard, so you would want to use his form.”
Pollard was the CPL’s tournament MVP.
In their chase, Chennai, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, lost both openers early but Rayudu kept their chase on track with his calculated aggression, while Du Plessis stayed put until victory was sealed.
This year’s matches will be held in bio-secure bubbles in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in front of empty stands but organisers are hoping to allow some fans to attend during the later stages of the tournament, which will end on November 10.