After a string of poor performances, the Rising Pune Supergiant seem to have found rhythm as they have registered two back to back victories against mighty opponents Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Sunrisers Hyderabad. With three wins from six games, the Pune outfit sits at fourth spot in the table.
However, they would have a sterner test on Monday as they face men in form Mumbai Indians in the Maharashtra Derby. RPS had emerged victorious in the first game between the two sides courtesy some great batting by Aussie skipper Steve Smith. Lot of water has flown under the bridge since then and Pune will have to put their best foot forward to defeat high-flying Mumbai.
Let’s take a shot at how the Final XI of RPS may look like.
Openers: Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi
Rahul Tripathi has made some name for himself with swashbuckling knocks at the top of the order. The RPS opener has been instrumental in providing his team with swift starts. However, Rahane has been going through a terrible run of form. He will have to start doing well as he is a vital cog in the RPS wheel. Despite the contrasting form of the two openers, both are expected to retain their place in the final XI.
Middle Order: Steve Smith, MS Dhoni (WK), Manoj Tiwary
The Aussie skipper Steve Smith is set to opt for an unchanged middle-order as that is going to be the best suit for his team combination. The skipper has been in good form in the matches he has played so far and Manoj Tiwary has also grabbed the opportunities whenever he has got them.
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The biggest positive for RPS in the middle-order is MS Dhoni’s return to form. We had written in our reports that a player like him just needs one innings to turn things around and he did exactly the same against SRH. So, the middle order looks to remain unchanged for this fixture.
All-rounder: Ben Stokes, Daniel Christian
Steve Smith has been favouring T20 specialist Daniel Christian over other all-rounders and the Aussie did not do very bad in the last few games. Although he has not contributed much with the bat, he has been very economical with the ball and in a team where bowling is not very strong, he is expected to get the nod. Ben Stokes on the other hand, showed glimpses of his capabilities against RCB and his enormous potential means there is no doubt over his place in the squad.
Spinners: Imran Tahir, Washington Sundar
World No. 1 T20 spinner Tahir and young Washington Sundar are expected to be a part of the spin bowling department. The duo did well in the last game against SRH, restricting the opposition from scoring free runs. Also, Washington is no bunny with the bat and that will act in his favour over Rahul Chahar. So, Steve Smith is not expected to tinker with this department.
Fast Bowlers: Shardul Thakur, Jaidev Unadkat
Both Thakur and Unadkat did exceptionally well to contain the powerful RCB batting line-up the other day and SRH batting line-up yesterday. That will act in their favour when Smith and Fleming decide the final XI. The players have impressed in whatever limited opportunities they have got so far and that means they are expected to be given another go.
So, we have opted for an unchanged RPS squad this evening. It remains to be seen how close we get to the actual one.
Cover Image Source: DekhNews.com