As Royal Challengers Bangalore get ready for another shot at the IPL title, the talk is again about the Chris Gayle factor. Their opponents in the second qualifier, Mumbai Indians, are naturally wary of the run-machine. The Chennai Super Kings plotted his downfall well, but given the Jamaican's run of scores, the opponents will have to be very lucky.
Mumbai Indians have the man to counter Gayle's intimidating presence as well as big hitting. In Kieron Pollard, they have an equally devastating weapon. Sadly, MI's weapon is misfiring.
Pollard gained the reputation of being one of the fiercest hitters in cricket when playing for Trinidad and Tobago in the inaugural Champions League and during his first season with Mumbai Indians.
He figured prominently in MI's plans for IPL-4 after being one of the four marquee players retained by the franchisee, with Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga being the others. But disappointingly, he has failed to repeat his heroics of the previous season when he was seen as a match-winner who could create something out of nothing with his big strokes.
To the team management’s anguish, Pollard hasn't been able to find his range. There is no denying his ability to murder attacks but the runs have dried up for the burly Trinidadian. In 12 innings this season, he aggregates 143 runs (strike rate: 112.59) at an average of 15.88. He is keeping his spot only because of his fielding and bowling.
Pollard's lack of form has left MI with plenty of headaches in the batting line-up, with the main being the absence of a finisher. Their other power-hitter, Andrew Symonds, too, is out of touch and out of favour.