Pollard, Gayle to square off after Mumbai reach final

CHENNAI, India, IANS-CMC – Kieron Pollard will square off with West Indies counterpart Chris Gayle in today’s Champions League Twenty20 final after his Mumbai Indians beat English county Somerset by 10 runs in the second semi-final of the lucrative tournament here yesterday.

The big-hitting Pollard showed just glimpses of what could be in store on Sunday, smashing two sixes in a breezy 24 from 18 balls as Mumbai scored 160 for five at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

Kieron Pollard

Somerset then appeared on course for the title game at 141 for three in the 19th over but lost four wickets for six runs in the space of six balls, to slump to 150 for seven off their 20 overs.

Speedster Lasith Malinga, who finished with four for 20, bowled a deadly last over that yielded two wickets and cost just four runs.

Mumbai will now face Gayle’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in today’s final at the same venue.

Opting to bat first, Mumbai’s total revolved around a fighting 54 by opener Aiden Blizzard and some big hitting late in the innings by Pollard, Surya Kumar Yadav (23 not out) and Sathish Rajagopal (25 not out).

The Mumbai innings promised a lot, but delivered little as besides Blizzard and Pollard, no other batsman looked capable of the acceleration that was required for the team to get up to a decent score.

Blizzard batted well enough for his half-century though he never quite collared the bowling attack that at best was restrictive. A few pleasing drives and big hits marked the southpaw’s innings that ended in the 13th over when he played across, missed and was bowled, presenting left-arm spinner Murali Karthik with his only wicket.

He struck five fours and three sixes, and faced 39 balls

Pollard threatened to break free, but apart from the two sixes, did not look comfortable, especially when denied pace. Eventually, desperation got the better of him and was bowled neck and crop by the crafty seamer Alfonso Thomas.

Chris Gayle

However, Thomas leaked 20 runs in his final over and the 19th of the innings as the pair of Rajagopal Sathish and Surya Kumar Yadav delivered a few lusty blows to take Mumbai total to 160.

The sixth wicket pair added 43 precious runs to provide Mumbai Indians a very defendable target on a surface that again put a premium on stroke-making.

In Somerset’s reply, Malinga bowled Peter Trego off the second ball of the innings without scoring  and then also cleaned up Roelof van der Merwe (10) in similar fasion in his next over, at 17 for two.

England opener Craig Kieswetter then carried his side with a fighting 62 from 46 balls with seven fours and a six.

He was involved in two crucial partnerships, 83 for the third wicket with James Hildreth (39) and then 41 for the fourth with Jos Buttler (19) as Somerset came within striking distance of victory.

But seamer James Franklin (2-16) delivered a double strike in the 19th over to set the stage for a similar performance in the 20th by Malinga, as Mumbai got home safely.

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