KL Rahul was the top-scorer with his first IPL century, but there was no doubt over who the standout player of the game was. With his 31-ball 83, Kieron Pollard singlehandedly won the match for Mumbai Indians, and ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats bear this out.
Rahul may have scored 17 more runs, but in terms of Smart Runs, Pollard won the race by some distance, with 131 Smart Runs to Rahul's 105. In terms of Match Contribution, Pollard was far ahead at 31% to Rahul's 18%. This was because of Pollard's stunning strike rate, and the context in which he scored his runs.
When Pollard came in to bat in the eighth over, Mumbai Indians required 142 to win in 12.2 overs, which means the asking rate was 11.5 per over. Over the next 71 balls, Pollard scored at 16 runs per over, while the other batsmen scored 43 off 40 (6.45 runs per over). That means Pollard singlehandedly soaked up the pressure and kept the asking rate under control, with little support from the others.
On the other hand, while Rahul obviously played a key hand for Kings XI Punjab, his strike rate of 156.25 was marginally lower than the combined the strike rate of the batsmen at the other end, which was 160.7.
Also, while he did turn it on in the last three overs, scoring 36 from 12 balls, there was a phase in the middle overs when he failed to sustain the momentum provided by an opening stand of 116 in 12.5 overs. In the five overs between the 13th and the 17th, Kings XI scored only 30, with Rahul managing just 16 from 14 balls in that period.
Since Match Contribution for a player takes into account the Smart Runs and also factors in the number of runs the other team-mates would have scored from the deliveries faced by the batsman, Pollard emerges way ahead of Rahul, and deservedly so.
Smart Stats is a part of Superstats, a new set of metrics by ESPNcricinfo to tell more enriching and insightful numbers-based stories. To know more about Superstats, click here.