James Fiztpatrick | cricket20
Kieron Pollard took three wickets and scored a quick fire 33 from just 13 balls as the Mumbai Indians made light work of the Royal Challengers Bangalore claiming a 35 run victory to seal a place in Sundays Indian Premier League final.
The victory also secures them a place in Septembers Twenty20 Champions League thanks to an impressive performance from their big hitting all rounder Pollard.
The West Indian first came to the attention of the cricketing world during last years Twenty20 Champions League while playing for Trinidad and Tobago and he put in a man of the match performance at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy.
Faced with such a large run chase the Royal Challengers got of to a positive start before losing Jacques Kallis (11) at the end of the third over after he was caught by wicket keeper Ambati Rayudu to give Lasith Malinga the important breakthrough to leave the Royal Challengers 24-1.
Rahul Dravid was joined at the crease by Kevin Pietersen and even though they had lost a key earlier wicket they were still matching the required run rate.
Three balls after Kallis was dismissed Dravid was given a second life after he appeared to have been caught by Tendulkar in the slips, the experienced batsman stood his ground and the decision was referred to the third umpire.
As is the case in these situations the TV replays were inconclusive, although Tendulkar's fingers appeared to be around the ball the height and angle of the replays suggested the ball had touched the ground much to the disgust of the Mumbai crowd.
With Dravid still at the crease the pair built a partnership of 23 runs before Pietersen was stumped by Rayudu after he had came down the wicket to attack Harbhajan Singh. The veteran Indian spin bowler saw Pietersen’s intentions and fired the ball wide down the leg side to leave Pietersen (19) outside of his crease as the bails came off.
Danger man Robin Uthappa came to the crease but his contribution only lasted 13 balls. Uthappa had hit a quick fire 26 to change to put the pressure back on the Indians but in the space 2 balls the semi finals were turned on their heads.
First, Uthappa picked out Shikhar Dhawan out of the boundary to give Kieron Pollard the huge break through before Dravid (23) was run out off the next ball to reduce the Royal Challengers to 81-4.
In terms of comparisons the Indians were 77-4 after 9.4 overs but the Royal Challengers still had an uphill task having conceded 77 runs from their last 5 overs during the Indians innings.
With the loss of two quick wickets the Royal Challengers momentum had been halted. The impressive Pollard picked up his second wicket of the innings after Virat Kohil (9) was caught by Rayudu behind the stumps.
Unbelievable Kohil stood his ground despite Rayudu clearly catching the ball a foot of the ground, it was referred to the third umpire who took one look and sent the batsman on his way to leave the Royal Challengers hopes of reaching the final in tatters.
Pollards third victim soon followed when Manish Pandey (5) was caught brilliantly by JP Duminy out on the boundary as the South African just stayed inbounds without touching the rope.
Praveen Kumar (1) offered little resistant’s facing just two balls before he was bowled by Harbhajan Singh as the Royals Challengers challenge faded away.
While the Indians were left to celebrate a superb win the Royal Challengers will look to bounce back on Saturday as they face either the Deccan Chargers of the Chennai Super Kings on the 3rd place playoff with a spot in the Twenty20 Champions League up for grabs to the winner.
Having won the toss and electing to bat the Indians got off to a slow start scoring just 2 runs from the first over of their innings which was bowled by Praveen Kumar.
Indians skipper Tendulkar looked set for another faultless display after he had smashed two boundaries through square leg and cover point to start the second over before Dale Steyn struck back.
The South African fast bowler produced a perfect out swinging delivery which Tendulkar (8) stretched at as it went down the off side and he hit it in the air to Ross Taylor at cover.
It was the first time Tendulkar had been dismissed in single figures and it gave the Royal Challengers the perfect start, the Indians now had to prove that weren’t a one man team.
Barely two overs had passed before Dhawan (12) followed his skipper back into the dug out after he was run out to leave the Indians 29-2.
After cruising into the semi finals winning 10 games the Indians were in deep trouble having lost two early wickets, they desperately needed Abhishek Nayar and Ambati Rayudu to build a big third wicket partnership.
The pair responded brilliantly with a partnership of 39 runs, but with the foundations laid Nayar (22) was dismissed by Pietersen before JP Duminy (3) followed 9 balls later as the Indians slumped to 77-4.
With a place in the final seemingly drifting away Rayudu and Tiwary formed a potential match winning partnership as the pair wrestled the initiative away from the Royal Challengers thanks to a partnership of 67 from just 50 balls.
Despite the lose of the 4 wickets the pair batted aggressively forcing the Royal Challengers into defence as their bowlers started to leak runs around the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy.
Despite his vast experience Anil Kumble was not spared either conceding 17 runs in the 17th as Rayudu and Tiwary threatening to lead the Indians to a huge score.
The partnership was ended by Steyn who dismissed Rayudu (40) who was caught by Jacques Kallis. Unfortunately for the Royal Challengers, the loss of Rayudu brought Pollard to the crease.
The big hitting West Indian wasted little time getting involved in the game smashing two huge sixes of the bowling of Vinay Kumar in the 19th over.
Pollard and Tiwary built a partnership of 40 runs from just 18 balls to complete the Indians recovery after the early loss of Tendulkar to help the Indians reach 184-5.