Kieron Pollard's incredible blitz in the game against the Chennai Super Kings - a 34-ball 87 to go with bowling figures of 2 for 12 - has emerged as the most impactful match performance of IPL 2021, according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats. Pollard's display pips the other great all-round performance of the tournament - Ravindra Jadeja's 28-ball 62 and 3 for 13 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
These have been the two stand-out acts of the tournament so far, fetching more than 195 impact points each. The next best - Jos Buttler's 64-ball 124 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad - is 50 points adrift of the 196.4 points that Jadeja scored for his virtuoso performance with bat and ball.
Pollard's batting effort earned him 134.9 points, compared to 110.1 for Jadeja's unbeaten 62. Apart from scoring more runs at a higher strike rate - 255.9 to Jadeja's 221.4 - Pollard's knock also came under immense pressure. The Mumbai Indians needed 138 runs from 62 balls at an asking rate of 13.35 when he came in to bat, and Pollard scored 63% of those runs, including 16 from the last over. Jadeja, though, got more bowling points - 86.3 to 74.9 - for a three-wicket haul that included the scalps of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers.
The other all-round effort in the top six is Andre Russell's 22-ball 54 and 1 for 12, also against the Super Kings. Coming in to bat at a hopeless 31 for 5, Russell scored 66.7% of the team's runs while he was at the crease, getting a batting impact score of 113.7, before he completely misjudged one that crashed into leg stump.
The performances of Pollard and Jadeja belong in that rare category of players achieving impact points of more than 70 with the bat and ball in a single match. There have only been 13 such instances in IPL history, and both Pollard and Jadeja are in the top five. Leading that list are two performances by Yuvraj Singh, when he made 60-plus scores at strike rates of over 200, and took four wickets - against the Delhi Daredevils in 2011 and against the Rajasthan Royals in 2014.
While Pollard and Jadeja's performances in a single game were outstanding, in terms of overall impact in the tournament so far, Avesh Khan is the leader, with a score of 53.3 impact points per match.
Khan is the joint second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 14, behind Harshal Patel's 17, but in terms of Smart Wickets, he leads with 19.2, followed by Patel on 17.9. That is because Smart Wickets takes into account the quality of the batter dismissed, his score and the match situation. Seven of his 14 wickets are of batsmen in the top four, and only three of batsmen at No. 7 or lower, compared with six such lower-order dismissals for Patel. Also, nine times Khan has dismissed batters for single-digit scores, compared to six similar dismissals for Patel.
However, unlike in the case of the best match-wise performances, the top six in the overall impact list are all very closely bunched together: less than six points separates Avesh and the sixth-placed Jadeja. In between them are Moeen Ali, who has been terrific at No. 3 for the Super Kings, Rahul Chahar, Prithvi Shaw and Sam Curran, who have all had impressive tournaments so far. With little separating them so far, though, the leaderboard could well see plenty of movement in the second half of the tournament.