One of the backup sides along with Gujarat Lions, Rising Pune Supergiant made their maiden appearance in Indian Premier League in 2016 season of the tournament. Owned by RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, Pune was led by inspirational captain MS Dhoni in the last edition of the cash-rich league. Despite having such a successful skipper at their helm, Pune failed to reach the playoff stage in the ninth season of IPL.
RPS finished at the second-last (seventh) spot in the table rankings and won only five matches out of 14 round-robin encounters. With a new leader and a new name this time in the tenth edition, Pune is hoping for better on-field results. Dhoni has been replaced by one of the world’s best batsman Steven Smith to lead the Pune-based franchise in IPL 2017.
Looking to make a turnaround this year, let’s take a look at some of the key players from the RPS camp:
In the history of the game, not many have possessed the brain and acumen of a man like Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the cricket field. One of the smartest and the shrewdest captain in gentlemen’s game, Dhoni is an invaluable asset to any franchise in any format. After an average season last year with RPS, the former Indian captain would be eager to make amends both with the bat and gloves this time around.
The 35-year old warhorse has played 143 IPL matches so far, scored 3271 runs at an impressive average of almost 40 including 16 half-centuries. His strike-rate of 140 in the shorter format is a nightmare for any bowler in the current setup.
Steve Smtih perfectly defines the new-age skipper who likes to lead from the front and get involved into the thick of things every time he steps onto the field. Over the years, the Aussie has developed his reputation as one of the best batsmen in the world who can tear apart any bowling attack on any surface.
The 27-year old has made 54 appearances in IPL, scored 1231 runs at an average of 36.20. His strike rate of 135+ also makes Smith a perfect fit in the shorter format.
One of the costliest players in the history of Indian Premier League, Ben Stokes was snapped by Supergiant for a record price of Rs 14.5 crores in February Player Auction. An aggressive all-rounder, Stokes is a quintessential modern day cricketer who can contribute with his batting, bowling. and fielding for the team’s cause.
The 25-year old will be making his IPL debut in 2017. He boasts of a strike rate of close to 135 in his T20 career, scored 1272 runs in 77 matches. Ben is equally capable of chipping in with crucial breakthroughs with the ball which makes him a quality player for the shorter version.
The Lahore-born leg spinner is world’s number one Twenty20 right now. Everyone was surprised when Tahir went unsold during the Player Auction in February this year. Signed late by Pune, Imran Tahir is likely to play an important role for Supergiant in absence of Ravichandran Ashwin.
With an experience of 20 IPL matches under his belt, the 38-year old is a champion bowler in the T20 format. He has notched up 29 wickets in his twenty appearances at an impressive average of 21.48. Tahir has the strike-rate of less than 15 which speaks a lot about his skill as a bowler.
RPS IPL 2017 Probable XI
M S Dhoni, Manoj Tiwari, Ajinkya Rahane, S Smith, Faf du Plessis, Ben Stokes, Rajat Bhatia, Ashok Dinda, Baba Aparajith, Jaydev Unadkat, Imran Tahir