Patrick Noone analyses how Kieron Pollard played the defining innings in TKR’s third successive win.
Whatever else Kieron Pollard does in the remainder of his career, his status as a T20 legend is more than secure. He is one of only two men – alongside Chris Gayle – to score more than 10,000 runs in the format and the sight of him clearing the ropes in leagues around the world has been a familiar one for the last decade and more.
Today, Barbados Tridents were on the receiving end of the latest explosion of Pollard’s fireworks at the back end of Trinbago Knight Riders’ innings. Since the start of 2010, only Andre Russell can surpass the hitting prowess of the TKR man during the death overs, and his brutal 41 from just 17 balls pushed TKR’s total from a decent one to an insurmountable one.
After Colin Munro’s half-century, Pollard came to the crease with something of a platform laid for him at 87-3 at the end of the 13th over. It was the perfect amount of time for Pollard to bat – short enough for him to go hard just about every ball, but long enough for his innings to make a big impact on his team’s total.
Pollard took just one ball to give himself a sighter, defending Rashid Khan with what would be the only defensive shot in his 17-ball stay at the crease. In the next over, he belted the other leg-spinner, Hayden Walsh, down the ground for the first of four towering sixes. It began a thrilling passage of hitting as he cleared the ropes in successive overs off Mitchell Santner, Raymon Reifer and Jason Holder.
As impressive as Pollard’s batting was, it shouldn’t go unsaid that the Tridents rather got into a muddle with their bowling options. With TKR’s left-hand heavy top order of Munro, Sunil Narine and Darren Bravo, Barbados were reluctant to bowl either Santner or Rashid during the middle period of the innings. That in turn meant that when they turned to their designated death bowlers, the pair had only bowled four overs between them.
It certainly played into Pollard’s hands, given his previous record against Rashid – no bowler has bowled more than 50 balls to him in T20 cricket with a better economy rate than the Afghan. Perhaps if Holder had turned to his champion leg-spinner rather than Reifer in the 18th, Pollard would have scored fewer runs than the 12 he took off the left-arm quick.
It was a second poor game in succession for the Tridents skipper who was left to rue his decision to bat first in his team’s last outing against St Lucia Zouks. In a tournament as competitive as this one, it doesn’t take much for missteps to quickly become exposed and that is what’s happened with the defending champions as they find themselves already playing catch up with two defeats from three.
For the Knight Riders, it was another impressive display from a team that continues to find a way to get over the line. Pollard was the difference today as they made it three wins from three; the bad news for the other teams in this competition is that they still look as though they have more gears to go to before they find their very best form.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst