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IPL 2024: 'When he comes out on top, I'll watch everyone sing his praises,' Pollard defends Hardik

IANS | April 15, 2024 12:14 PM

MUMBAI: After a 20-run defeat to Chennai Super Kings (CSK) gave Mumbai Indians (MI) their first loss at home in IPL 2024, batting coach Kieron Pollard came out in support of captain Hardik Pandya, saying when the all-rounder will be at his peak, he will sit back and see people singing praises for him.

At the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday evening, Pandya was hit for three sixes as the legendary MS Dhoni scored 20 runs off just four balls in the last over, which yielded 26 runs for CSK to post 206.

With the bat, Pandya made only two runs off six balls as Dhoni’s stunning cameo of 20 not out eventually became the exact winning margin for CSK as MI suffered their fourth defeat of the tournament.

"I don't know if it will affect his confidence. He is a confident guy, he has been great around the group. In cricket, you have good days and bad days and I am seeing an individual who is working bloody hard to improve his skills and plying his trade. I am fed up of (other people) looking to pinpoint individuals; cricket is a team game at the end of the day.

"This is an individual that is going to represent the country in less than six weeks' time, and all are going to cheer him and want him to do well. So high time we try to encourage and stop nitpicking and see if we can get the best out of one of the great allrounders India has produced.

"He can bat, bowl and field, and has a X-factor about him. I hope very well deep down within my heart that when he comes out on top, I'll sit back and watch everyone sing his praises, " said Pollard in the post-match press conference.

So far in IPL 2024, Hardik, who was subject to vicious booing at the start of the competition, has scored 131 runs at a strike rate of 145.55 and scalped only three wickets in his return to competitive cricket after an ankle injury forced an early end to his time in 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup at home.

"I think Hardik, and in general, any player has to evolve as an individual. When you're young, there's that youthful exuberance; you do things in a particular manner. But the older you get, the more responsibility and accountability to the team kicks in. What I'm seeing is a guy who is evolving.

"We, as individuals, want to see certain things, but sometimes, the game only demands certain things. They will make mistakes as they go along, as we all have done at various times. But what I am seeing is an individual who is putting in the work. I'm sure we all say hard work pays off. At some point, it will pay off, and all of us will be singing his praises when that time comes, " added Pollard.

He further said MI will look back at Pandya's final over, especially in the line and length of bowling to Dhoni, and figure out the ways of getting better in their death overs bowling. MI will next face Punjab Kings at Mullanpur on April 18.

"For each player, it doesn't matter, MS, Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, or Hardik Pandya, you have plans for how you want to bowl to them. You go back and look to see if it was executed. But again, MS has been world-class for years upon years. We love to see him on the cricket field and in stadiums. We're all in awe of what he has accomplished.

"Again, the scoreline — the 20 runs — is the difference. But cricket is much more than what we see at the end. That's where we need to educate ourselves a little more. Yes, he had three sixes and 20 runs in the last over, but anyone could have also gone for 20 runs in the previous over. So, for us, it's much deeper than that. We will dissect, as we have done throughout the tournament, do our homework, and try to return better as a team, ” he concluded.

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