IPL 2024: Shepherd happy to be Mumbai Indians’ hero, says Pollard’s advice helped him

Mumbai, April 7 : All-rounder Romario Shepherd said a clear mind, backing from the skipper and coaching staff and their advice to express himself helped him hammer a 10-ball 39 that eventually proved the difference between victory and defeat for Mumbai Indians against Delhi Capitals in Match 20 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.

Playing his first full match for Mumbai Indians after being brought in as an Impact Player in the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Shepherd knew that this was probably the best opportunity that had come his way and he should make it count.

He made it count by hammering 32 runs in the final over bowled by Anrich Nortje, hitting a sequence of 4, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6 in a brilliant display of power-hitting to take Mumbai Indians to 234/5 in 20 overs. They then came back strongly to defend the total by restricting Delhi Capitals to 205/8 in 20 overs despite blazing half-centuries by Prithvi Shaw (66 from 40 balls) and Tristan Stubbs (71 off 25).

The 29-year-old has played for many T20 franchises — Sunrisers Hyderabad and Lucknow Super Giants besides Colombo Stars, Chittogram Challengers, Guyana Amazon Warriors and Joburg Super Kings besides the West Indies national team.

“Yeah, you know, you said about playing for a few teams, so obviously when I get this opportunity to come out and represent Mumbai Indians, it was a big thing for me. So at the back of my mind, I was saying that any opportunity I get, I will try and capitalise on it. I knew that a few balls could change things. So I knew that once I go in there, I have to try and get as much as possible, especially in the last couple of balls,” said Shepherd in the post-match press conference on Sunday.

“So I just keep a clear mind and try and hit every ball. So today was good to see that it came off for me. This is the most we hit in an over especially against a top bowler. So it was fantastic. It was a fantastic feeling, first of all,” said Shepherd.

Shepherd said he has looked up to Mumbai Indians batting coach Kieron Pollard and was happy to do something the senior batter has done many a time for his teams — give the finishing touch to the innings with power-hitting.

“Yeah, I have looked up to him for doing fantastic things for Mumbai, similar to like, what I did today. So, you know, when I got a call that I was gonna play today, he told me before I went out to bat to express myself.

“So obviously I went out there with a clear mindset, knowing that the coaching staff are backing me. And then the skipper also told me the same and I went there and did exactly what was expected of me,” said the 29-year-old from Guyana.

‘Finisher’s role difficult’

Shepherd said the finisher’s role is a difficult one in T20 cricket as they rarely get a lot of deliveries to get used to the conditions a bit and then execute their shots.

“Everyone wants to bat a bit and before they start hitting, get used to the condition a bit. But whenever you’re in the 17th over, you just go with a clear mind because there is no holding back,” said Shepherd after the match.

“Whenever you’re in that kind of role you’re even more dangerous, having to just hit the ball because when you ‘see-ball hit-ball’, it’s a more clear mindset than having to be tentative and looking for ones and twos still,” he said.

“You play a bit tentative there and maybe miscapitalise on some delivery that you would normally hit. But when you’re in the back end and there are only 18 balls, you will only face about seven, eight or nine out of those balls. You have to maximize and try and hit it as well as you can,” he added.

“Especially in the finishing role, there’s a lot of pressure on us because everyone expects us to just go in there and blast sixes. Some days it will come off, some days it won’t. Like today it came off, on the next day, you never know it won’t come off,” he added.

‘Feeling yet to sink in’

Shepherd said it is yet to sink in what he has achieved on Sunday and added that the win was more important for them.

“It hasn’t sunk in as of yet, you know, what I did today because first of all the win was more important than anything today because we were in a bad position as a team, so we needed a win. And the coaches and everyone was asking for someone to be a hero, put up their hand and (come up) with a great performance, and obviously today I did well,” said the West Indies batter.

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