Smith, Rahane seal it for Rising Pune Supergiant

Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith showed the way for Rising Pune Supergiant to notch a big victory by seven wickets against Mumbai Indians in the IPL 10 match at the MCA International Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.

Steve Smith... Leading from the front...   -  Vivek Bendre

Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith showed the way for Rising Pune Supergiant to notch a big victory by seven wickets against Mumbai Indians in the IPL 10 match at the MCA International Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.

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On a surface that played true to it itself for the first time in many IPL matches played here, Rahane straightaway got into the top gear to punish Hardik Pandya’s medium pace for three boundaries in the second over. He then proceeded to look for runs against Tim Southee and Mitchell McGlenaghan as the Supergiant raced to 59 for one by the end of the powerplay. Rahane provided the thrust to meet the exacting task of scoring at nine and an over and at half-way stage, the Supergiant was slightly ahead of what MI had scored.

Full Scorecard

After Rahane departed, with Nitish Rana holding his nerves to take a splendid catch deep at square leg, Smith took charge to enable his team to post a solid win. Playing his first IPL match, Ben Stokes impressed with three good shots to the fence. The Supergiant needed 36 runs in the last four overs and 13 of the last. Pollard conceded just three runs of his first three balls of the final over, but Smith finished a thrilling match with two sixes to the on-side.

Player of the day

Earlier, there was plenty of action in the first hour as Jos Buttler — striking boundaries — with Imran Tahir conjuring some leg-spinning tricks at the stroke of powerplay overs to balance out the game. But, at the fag end of the first session that saw fortunes swing like a pendulum, Hardik Pandya found a way to thump fast bowler Ashok Dinda for four mighty sixes for Mumbai Indians to set a challenging target of 185 for the Supergiant. Thanks to New Zealander Southee, lifting a straight six of the last ball — sent down by Stokes, and Pandya’s swashbuckling effort in the last over — MI added 36 runs off the last seven balls.

An IPL match never ceases to spring a surprise and in the second match of the league’s tenth edition, the Supergiant captain Smith was the cause for it. First, he opted to place his faith on two leg spinners – Australian Adam Zampa and the Pakistani born, but who plays for South Africa, Tahir — who has an average of 13.70 in 31 T20Is. Secondly, Smith won the toss and chose to field. None of the three bowlers he tried in the first four overs vindicated his call at the toss.

However, Tahir not only gave a breakthrough in his first over, making Parthiv Patel play all over a ball that did not turn, but travelled straight off the pitch to hit the left-hander’s leg stump. He also foxed the MI captain Rohit Sharma with a delivery that hastened off the pitch and then immediately won a leg-before decision from umpire S. Ravi against the rampaging Buttler. The right-hander appeared to have inside-edged the ball. Promoted to open the innings, Buttler played a big part part with Patel.

From a rousing 61 for 1 start in the first 36 balls, MI’s run rate declined substantially before the young Rana got into the act with some courageous shots during his 28-ball tenure in the middle. After his dismissal, Kieron Pollard took on Tahir in his second spell of two overs and even as he appeared to be set for his usual onslaught, Mayank Agarwal pulled off — what has to be the first spectacular catch of IPL 10. The Karnataka player dived in front to hold the catch that gave Stokes his first IPL wicket.

Even as Smith and the Supergiant seemed to be on control of the first innings, Hardik, held back till as late as the No. 8 position delivered the big runs making an unbeaten 35 of just 14 balls. Dinda had been costly in his opening burst of two overs and Smith’s decision to toss the ball to the Bengal fast bowler backfired as he gave away 28 runs in the last over for MI to set an asking rate in excess of nine runs an over.