Can Kieron Pollard find a spot in the Mumbai Indians playing XI?
Kieron Pollard has been a familiar face in the Mumbai Indians line-up right from season 3. The aggressive all-rounder has played his part well over the last decade and become an indispensable member of the MI squad. In fact, he is one of the very few players in the history of the IPL to have played as part of a single franchise. His exploits both with the bat and ball were instrumental in helping Mumbai clinch the title on three occasions.
Of late, however, Pollard has remained only a shadow of what made him one of the very best in the IPL history.
What clicked for Kieron Pollard in the earlier editions?
Brute strength. The ability to clear the boundary at will. Ability to start hitting right from the word go. In fact, when he first started playing in the 2010 edition of the IPL, everyone used to be in awe of the distance the ball used to travel even with a mishit.
The apparent ease with which spinners and fast bowlers alike used to be dispatched to different parts of the ground was mind-boggling. In a team full of classical batsmen, Kieron Pollard brought about the power element in the game and used it to change the course of the match in a couple of overs.
Add to it the ability to bowl 2-4 overs every match and pick up crucial wickets with subtle variations - Kieron Pollard was pure gold in the MI lineup.
What has changed?
Lack of consistency has hurt Kieron Pollard big time. He is no longer able to hit the big shots on demand. Neither he is the classical batsman who can build his innings and consistently score runs on a regular basis. And that is a cause of worry for Mumbai Indians - how to use Kieron Pollard. In his initial seasons with Mumbai Indians, Pollard used to be like a canon firing off on all cylinders right from the word go. This is the ability which made him special and a household name.
Of late, he has remained a mere shadow of what he used to be. Opposition teams have figured out ways to deal with him - be it with regards to field placements or bringing in specific bowlers the moment he comes in to bat. There is no element of fear in the opposition camp when he comes in to bat these days. The fact that he does not bowl much is another worrisome thing.
Who can replace Kieron Pollard?
The presence of Pandya brothers in the lower middle-order spells doom for the chances of Pollard. They are everything that Pollard was in his initial days - big hitting all-rounder of the highest quality. Another guy waiting in the sidelines in Ben Cutting who has a similar profile. What Mumbai Indians really need is a solid middle order player minus the inconsistency. The recent purchase of Quinton de Kock fits the void perfectly.
The first four positions therefore go to Rohit Sharma, Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav and Quinton de kock. Even if the batting positions change depending on the situation, there is little doubt that the first four positions are now finalized. For the quick cameos, the Pandya brothers along with Ishan Kishan are more than sufficient.
If the last IPL season and the recently concluded India-West Indies series is anything to go by, Kieron Pollard doesn't fit into the scheme of things as far as Mumbai Indians are concerned. It is in fact a big surprise that he was retained by the Mumbai Indians for 2019 edition of IPL. Only an injury to an established player can provide some hope to the big man for a spot in the playing XI.