Saurabh Tiwary starred with yet another sterling performance with the bat for the Mumbai Indians.
But the highlight of the Mumbai team’s maiden knockout game in the Indian Premier League was the battle between two KPs — Kevin Pietersen and Kieron Pollard.
Pollard, the Mumbai Indians’ all-rounder, dazzled in all three departments to outshine the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Pietersen and lead MI to their maiden IPL final with a 35-run victory.
With this win, the Mumbai Indians become the first IPL team to secure a spot in the Champions League.
Ever before the teams arrived at the DY Patil Stadium for warm-up sessions on Wednesday evening, one sensed that the winner of the battle between the two KPs would determine the winner.
It was the senior KP —Pietersen — who first made an impression on the game, surprisingly with the ball.
Sensing the pitch had something in it for the tweakers, RCB skipper, Anil Kumble, threw the ball to Pietersen after the eighth over and the offie struck off his second ball. Pietersen got rid of southpaw Abhishek Nayar, who was looking set to make optimum use of being promoted to No. 3.
The Englishman then stuck to his line and length and restricted the MI batsmen to concede just five runs an over during his four-over spell.
Mumbai Indians’ Pollard took the crease with 14 balls remaining in their innings.
Pollard faced all but one of those deliveries, scoring 33 runs that made the difference in the end.
His three powerful strikes over the fence elevated MI’s total from 160s to 184 for five.
If RCB were to become the first team to feature in successive IPL finals, the senior KP had to replicate his junior’s heroics with the willow.
However, Pietersen was flummoxed by Harbhajan SIngh and wicketkeeper Ambati Rayudu collected the ball that was spinning away from him down the leg side and clipped the bails to give MI the decisive edge.
Minutes later, just as Robin Uthappa had started unleashing his power, MI’s KP was at it yet again.
Uthappa mistimed a pull off a short one from Pollard and was caught by Shikhar Dhawan at deep midwicket to help MI put one foot in the final.
The next ball saw Pollard’s athleticism at his best as he first collected a slightly wide throw from point and then dived to whip the bails off to dismiss Rahul Dravid and seal the deal for MI.