David Warner relishes return to the top as Sunrisers down Bangalore

Sudhir Gupta 21/05/2014
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David Warner, who recently pulled out of Australia’s tour of Zimbabwe because his batteries were “slowly draining” was completely charged up against Royal Challengers Bangalore as he masterminded a successful chase in Hyderabad.

Warner, promoted to the role of an opener alongside Shikhar Dhawan for the first time in this seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, smashed 59 runs in 46 balls to seal Hyderabad’s chances of making the playoffs.

The dashing Aussie added 100 runs for the opening stand with Dhawan in 12.3 overs, which paved the way for a comfortable seven-wicket win for Sunrisers, who were chasing a stiff target of 161.

Dhawan also made a welcome return to form, before getting out for 50 in 39 balls.

In the end it was a clinical performance by Hyderabad who always looked comfortable as they knocked off the runs in 19.4 overs.

Both Sunrisers and RCB now have 10 points from 12 games, but Bangalore are a place ahead at fifth with a better net run-rate.

However, Kolkata’s win against Chennai meant they won’t be able to move into the top-four just on the basis of points.

It was Dhawan who attacked from the onset with some flowing cover drives and a hooked six off Varun Aaron. The 50 then up in the last over of the powerful for Sunrisers' best start of the tournament. 

Warner then continued the charge before eventually falling to a fulltoss from Aaron but Naman Ojha (24) along with Aaron Finch (11 no) and captain Darren Sammy (10 no) ensured they crossed the line.

Earlier, RCB captain Virat Kohli scored his first half-century of the tournament this year with a superb knock of 67, around which Bangalore’s score of 160-6 was built after opting to bat first.

Kohli’s 67 came off 41 balls and he hit four boundaries and as many sixes, while AB de Villiers (29) and Yuvraj Singh (21) were the other main contributors. 

However, it was another ultimately disappointing performance from Bangloare who have won just five of their 12 matches despite starting the tournament as one of the favourites. 

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Rampant Robin helps KKR thrash CSK

Sudhir Gupta 21/05/2014
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Hands in the air: Kolkata players gather to congratulate Sunil Narine for the wicket of Brendon McCullum.

Robin Uthappa showed no signs of slowing down as a superb half-century set up a fifth consecutive win for Kolkata Knight Riders over Chennai Super Kings and considerably brightened up their chances of reaching the playoffs.

The classy 28-year-old carried on his mesmerising form which has seen him play seven back-to-back knocks of 40-plus, making a quickfire 67 in 39 balls and setting the initial tempo as Kolkata chased down the modest target of 153.

Kolkata are now tied with Rajasthan on 14 points but below them on net run rate despite their emphatic eight-wicket victory. They now require one win from their two remaining matches to book their place in the knockout stage of the tournament. 

After Uthappa had laid the foundation, Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan provided the finishing touches with a 21-ball unbeaten 46 (6×4, 2×6) and his 34-run stand with Manish Pandey (18 no) gave Kolkata the win with 12 balls to spare.

Uthappa’s innings was not without blemish, and he was twice lucky in the initial overs. Ravi Ashwin dropped a sitter in slips off Ben Hilfenhaus’ before Suresh Raina could not get to a difficult edge at the same position in the third over from Mohit Sharma.

The reprieves proved costly for Super Kings, who did not have the best day on the field. Even while batting, only Suresh Raina’s 51- ball 65 provided some substance to their total of 154-4.

From there on, Uthappa never looked back as he continued his dream run. With skipper Gautam Gambhir, he first added 64 runs for the opening wicket.

If there was any danger of Kolkata innings crumbling from that point, Shakib put it to rest as he boldly smashed the bowlers to all parts of the ground in his 21-ball knock that featured six boundaries and two sixes.

And after collecting yet another Man of the Match award, Uthappa said: “I’ve enjoyed batting here on this ground. The crowd is fantastic and I have always done well here. It's sort of a lucky ground for me.

“The ball was coming on well, and the dew factor also helped us. But I just wanted to play every ball on its merit and maintain the shape of my shots. When you play T20, you tend to lose shape technically because you want to hit the ball hard. That’s what I have been trying to avoid, to not lose shape in the first six overs.”

Earlier, Raina’s second half-century in as many innings propelled Chennai to a fighting 154-4. The left-hander was severe on both spinners and pace bowlers as he hit five sixes and three boundaries in his 65.

Put into bat, CSK were struggling at 60/2 in 10.3 overs after IPL debutant Pat Cummins removed Dwayne Smith in his first over and Sunil Narine then dismissed Brendon McCullum for 28.

It was Raina’s 62-run partnership in just 36 balls with Faf du Plessis (23) that upped the run rate for Chennai.

Narain was once again the most successful bowler for Kolkata, picking up 1-24 in his four overs despite being hit by Raina for a six off his first ball.

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(VIDEO) Kieron Pollard: Boundary riding extraordinaire

Barnaby Read 20/05/2014
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Setting the standards: Kieron Pollard is known as one of the best boundary fielders in world cricket.

Mumbai Indians and West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard last night pulled off the IPL's catch of the season to-date and one of the best catches in the history of the competition. 

With Kevon Cooper's hit seemingly sailing oer Pollard's head at long-on the Mumbai man leapt to miraculously pluck the ball out of the air as his body began to twist him around and over the fence.

Pollard, losing his battle against momentum, threw the ball over his shoulder before turning on his landing foot, thrusting himself back into play and diving to take one of the most athletic and jaw-droppingly amazing catches you could wish to see.

The majority of people who have watched the giant West Indian in years gone by wouldn't find Pollard's feat surprising in the slightest but for those fans less familiar with the 27-year-old Trinidadian, we've put together five other examples of the big man's finest moments while patrolling the boundary rope.

1) Doing it for the first time…

It turns out that Pollard has a bit of a history when it comes to last night's effort, having produced this nearly identical bit of mastery for Trinidad & Tobago against Cape Cobras during the 2009 Champions League T20 semi-final.

It was this tournament that propelled Pollard to the forefront of world Twenty20 cricket and made him the standout purchase at IPL 3.

Pollard was this time actually denied the wicket as Cobra captain Herschelle Gibbs demanded his batsman, Justin Ontong, stand his ground as the third umpire looked over the footage.

The TV replay adjudged Pollard to have failed to stay within the field of play and the catch resigned to a life outside of the scorebooks.

Thankfully, the YouTube annals have ensured that we can revisit Pollard's first major forray on to the world scene over and over again.

2) Running things…

Pollard's athleticism and desire were valuable assets to any potential employer, let alone his brutal big-hitting and marauding medium-pacers, and this effort is a case in point.

Racing round the boundary at full speed, Pollard threw himself forward to snap up the batsman's pull-shot just a foot from the turf.

Unfortunately for Pollard, his Mumbai side went on to lose this one by 74 runs after being skittled by Punjab Kings XI for a meagre 87. 

(Catch at 19 seconds)

3) Leap of faith…

Possibly one of Pollard's finest catches to date.

Made all the sweeter for being made while playing for his country, Pollard seems to defy the laws of physics by claiming this stunner to get rid of Glenn Maxwell.

The Aussie hitter, currently tearing this year's IPL apart, would have been certain that his slog sweep was headed for the Canberra crowd before Pollard plucked the ball from the air one handed, nearly ten feet off the ground.

4) Denying Dhoni…

With Chennai Super Kings needing 12 runs from the final over and with just two wickets in hand, the side's hopes rested firmly in captain MS Dhoni's hands.

Dhoni, one of the finest and most devastating finishers in the history of the game, picked the ball up and heaved it to mid-wicket where he seemed certain to have halved his team's required runs with the first ball of the over.

That was until the 6ft 2in Pollard appeared and held on to ensure his side secured the win.

5) Cool hand Kieron…

The IPL has certainly become Pollard's playground when it comes to superlative fielding and during last year's edition he was at his very best in the deep.

This one-handed cracker is reminiscent of the one that got rid of Glenn Maxwell and delighted near-enough everyone in the stadium.

None more so than Pollard, it has to be said.

While the six examples above clearly show a man at home in the deep taking sensational catches, we must not forget the fact that Pollard is human, just like us.

He has his bad days at the office and far too regulalry the easy chances prove to be the hardest for Pollard, who has shelled his fair share of sitters in the past.

Just ask Michael Hussey…

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