When we talk about the greatest overseas players to play in the IPL, the names of AB De Villiers, David Warner, Chris Gayle, and Lasith Malinga probably come rushing to the mind. All because of valid reasons and the way they've dominated this format in the cash-rich league with ease.
However, for several reasons, the name of Kieron Pollard quietly slips below the radar despite him playing a starring role for more than a decade at the most successful franchise in the Indian Premier League. He has often shone on the grandest stages, including IPL finals, and yet, you could sense there's always a sense of hesitation while placing his name among the top three greatest overseas players in IPL history.
Well, no more. Big man Pollard cemented his legacy in folklore with an innings for the ages. One that will stand the test of time and force his name into notice and deserved discussions.
Seizing the bat and wielding it like a mercenary with a jackhammer, Kieron Pollard refused to go gentle into the good night, even when Mumbai Indians were struggling for air at 81 for three while chasing a score of 218. He went Route 1 from ball one and by the time he was done, CSK's five-match winning streak was left in the dust.
Kieron Pollard took the likes of Shardul Thakur and Lungi Ngidi for a merry-go-round all over the park and if someone could manage to sneak up on him and touch his bat once the innings ended, it'd surely have been hotter than the surface of the Sun.
With nothing but a small ground and a batting-friendly pitch at his disposal, Polly single-handedly masterminded a heist in the biggest IPL fixture there is. Boundaries came easy and naturally to Kieron Pollard who took a mere 17 balls to get to his fifty.
With more work left to do, and an impossible mission to accomplish, Pollard kept hitting with the same bravado as he did when he was 10 years younger. He finished the match on 87 not out from 34 deliveries. His exceptional knock saw him hitting 6 fours and 8 sixes – roughly 82% of his innings comprised of boundaries.
If that isn't showmanship of the highest order, we don't know what is. But beyond that blitz and the strike rate of 255.88 was a sense of calm and poise. The 'see ball, hit ball' methodology popularized by several West Indies greats of this generation like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Kieron Pollard fundamentally relies on the discretion to know which ball to pick and which ball to leave.
Over the course of the night, Pollard would mis-hit the ball just once, that too, at an instance when the Cricket Gods were cheering for him and made sure that Faf Du Plessis, an otherwise reliable fielder, dropped an easy chance and with it, the match.
If you could record the sound of Pollard's bat middling the ball and sending it to the Tier 3 stands in a jiffy and make it into an album, the record sales would go platinum over a fortnight. Even when Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, and Jimmy Neesham lost their wickets while trying to slog, the biggest risk-taker of them stood tall and took the game deep.
Poor Lungi Ngidi will never fancy bowling another full toss to a guy from the Caribbean ever again, especially if he's 6'5" and goes by the name of Kieron Adrian Pollard.