Irfan Pathan had warmed the bench in all of Hyderabad Sunrisers’ matches in IPL 7 before finally getting a chance in the very last match of the UAE leg on Wednesday. If it didn’t indicate an apparent lack of confidence the team management might have in the all-rounder, consider this: he didn’t come into the picture till 7/8th – or 35 overs – of the match was over.
In the 16th over of the second innings, with Mumbai 106 for three in their chase of Hyderabad’s 173 but Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu threatening to cut loose, Shikhar Dhawan gave the ball to the left-arm seamer. Pathan delivered almost instantly, getting rid of Rayudu, who tried to slog a widish ball out of the park, but was caught by David Warner at deep midwicket.
In the process, Pathan broke a partnership that had added 77 runs in 57 balls – 41 of those in the last 20 balls.
It was some relief, with Rayudu having made 35 runs off 27 balls, but the major headache for Dhawan was still out there in the middle. Pollard was batting on 46 off 34, and after the initial scratching around, had got his eye in.
In the next over, bowled by the leggie Amit Mishra, the hulking West Indian plundered 27 runs, with three consecutive sixes followed by a four, to bring the equation down from 58 off 24 to a very gettable 31 off 18.
Now visibly concerned, Dhawan, who was perhaps saving his trump cards Dale Steyn (3-0-16-1) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-0-10-1) for the final two overs, decided to bring them on. Steyn and Kumar took a wicket apiece while giving away only 11 runs in 12 balls. They also kept Pollard out of strike for 9 of these.
For the defending champions Mumbai, looking for their first win in the competition this year, the equation, therefore, boiled down to 20 of the final over. Dhawan had to choose between Pathan and Sammy. He chose the former.
A tense finish looked on the card as Pollard prepared to face the seamer coming from round the wicket. It ended rather anti-climactically as the batsman, trying to hit across, inside-edged onto his stumps. Pathan exulted. The match was all but won. Mumbai, in the end, fell 15 runs short.
Pollard’s own goal
Earlier, Pollard, who got his team so close with the bat, also had an inadvertent hand in its eventual downfall