The Rising Pune Supergiant took a major step towards their maiden IPL title as they defeated the Mumbai Indians by 20 runs in the first Qualifier. Pune got off to a poor start as they lost Rahul Tripathi and captain Steve Smith early, but Ajinkya Rahane, Ms Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary batted beautifully to guide their team to 162. A target of 163 still looked chasable at the Wankhede pitch, but Mumbai made a mess of the chase as they lost wickets at regular intervals and will now have to play the second Eliminator to keep their hopes of winning the title for the third time alive.
Pune were without star all rounder Ben Stokes, but coped brilliantly in his absence as they got the better of a star studded Mumbai side, who were deemed as favourites prior to the match.
Here we look at the Heroes and Zeroes from the game :
1) Ajinkya Rahane :
The Indian batsman had not been in the best of forms in this season’s IPL, but showcased his class in the big game as he held the innings together after the loss of two big wickets. Rahane combined caution with attack and scored a valuable 56 to give his team the platform to get to a respectable total. Rahul Tripathi has attracted all the headlines for Pune at the top of the order, but Rahane showed he isn’t one of the best batsmen in the country for no reason. The Mumbaikar would be hoping that he delivers big in the next match as well and guides his team to the title.
2) MS Dhoni :
— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadeja) May 16, 2017
Like Rahane, Dhoni too has been in indifferent form, but came good as he played a brilliant cameo down the order to guide Pune to a respectable total. Dhoni started off slowly, but came into his own in the latter part of the innings as he scored a brilliant 40, which included as many as 5 sixes. With Stokes gone now, the onus was on Dhoni to deliver the fireworks lower down the order, and the Indian legend did not disappoint as he did what he has done brilliantly for so many years. Dhoni has the experience of delivering in the big finals and RPS would be hoping he guides them to the title with his performance in the final.
3) Washington Sundar :
The young spinner has not set the tournament alight, but has been valuable with his contributions and repaid the faith of the team management as he broke the back of the Mumbai lineup with his accurate spin bowling. Washington scalped the prized wickets of Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, all players who could have taken the game away from Pune. The youngster has been a real find this season for Pune and needs to deliver in the final in the absence of Imran Tahir.
1) Mitchell Mcclenaghan :
The Kiwi pacer came back into the side at the expense of Tim Southee, but did little to justify his inclusion as he was smashed to all parts of the ground by the Pune batsmen. McClenaghan was expected to lead Mumbai’s bowling attack, but went for 46 runs in his 4 overs, picking up just 1 wicket. Dhoni and Tiwary went berserk against him in his final over, and the Kiwi had no answer. Big Mitch would be looking to turn this disappointment around in the next game and guide Mumbai to the final with his bowling performance.
2) Steve Smith :
— CricTracker (@Cricketracker) May 16, 2017
The Aussie and RPS captain is a big match player, but faltered in this game as he could not get a big score and got out for just the solitary run. Smith started off the season with a bang, but has faded since and put his team under pressure in a big game by getting out cheaply. Captaincy wise, he was spot on as he marshalled his resources well, but Pune need more from their captain in the batting department. He would be looking to come good in the final.
3) Kieron Pollard :
The big Carribean was expected to bail out his team after the loss of 3 quick wickets, but played a horibble shot to get out, and Mumbai’s innings could never get going after that. Pollard is an experienced cricketer and was expected to play sensibly with his side in trouble,but had a brain fade as he gave a catch to a player stationed exactly for that kind of mistake. Mumbai Indians are highly dependent on Pollard to give them the X factor in the latter part of the innings, and he would be looking to do better in the next qualifier.