Rising Pune Supergiants, the Indian Premier League’s latest creation, were born this year with an incredible batting lineup.
With the likes of out-and-out run-machines Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith and Saurabh Tiwary among their ranks – plus big-hitting all-rounders Mitchell Marsh, Thisara Perera and Albie Morkel – RPS look capable of chasing down some big totals in IPL 9.
So, when they restricted Mumbai Indians to a meagre 121/8 in Saturday’s season-opener at the Wankhede Stadium, the outcome seemed inevitable.
And it was inevitable.
Pune stormed home to win with 32 balls to spare.
Most of Pune’s batting talent remained in the shed as crafty opener Rahane hit 66 runs off 42 balls.
Rahane’s knock was one for the purists, for the most part, although his match-winning six displayed the type of cocky innovation that is fast detaching T20 from traditional cricket.
This is no longer cricket as you once knew it, but – despite most of them coming out in the hope of seeing a home victory – the Mumbai crowd absolutely loved it.
Rahane, who hit seven fours and three sixes, was assisted in the middle by Pietersen, who ended unbeaten on 21 from 14.
Du Plessis – the only Pune batsman to lose his wicket – had earlier got his side off to a steady start with 34 off 33.
Rahane will take home the man-of-the-match gong and the majority of the acclaim, but it was a fantastic team effort in the field – which is all the more impressive considering that this is a totally new side – to set up the simple chase.
The pick of the Pune bowlers was Marsh, who recorded figures of 4-0-21-2, claiming the wickets of Hardik Pandya and Jos Buttler.