IPL 2017 final preview: Rising Pune Supergiant vs Mumbai Indians

Sport360 staff 20/05/2017
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Steve Smith’s Rising Pune Supergiant eye their maiden Indian Premier League crown as they meet tournament favourites Mumbai Indians in a mouth-watering title clash in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Pune, who ended seventh in the eight-team Twenty20 tournament last year, had a mixed start this season only to pick up momentum towards the business end.

Pune’s record buy Ben Stokes proved to be the trump card as the England all-rounder’s showing with the bat and ball was instrumental in the side clinching a play-off berth.

But the team showed in the first qualifier against Mumbai that it is not a one-man army after young spinner Washington Sundar turned out to be the unlikely hero with his match-winning haul of three wickets.

Sundar’s performance made up for Stokes’ absence, after he left for national duty before the knockouts.

However Pune, whose two-year run along with the Gujarat Lions ends this season, may be playing their last game in the cash-rich league after being denied an extension by the league’s governing council early this month.

The two banned franchises – Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals – are all set to come back in the next edition of the league, having served two year suspensions for their involvement in 2013 spot-fixing saga.

But captain Smith, who took charge from Mahendra Singh Dhoni ahead of this season, is focused on the task at hand as he praised the team for its stupendous showing.

“It’s just been about enjoying this season and doing what we can up until we play the last game. We have had a fairly successful year and played consistent cricket throughout,” Smith said on the eve of the final on Saturday.

“I am excited about playing in my first IPL final and hopefully we can make it a good one tomorrow.”

Dhoni’s finishing powers might be on the wane but the gutsy wicketkeeper-batsman’s presence is enough to intimidate the opposition. His 26-ball unbeaten 40 in the previous game was a proof of his game-changing ability.

“Steve Smith has led the side admirably and got Pune into the finals. Of course he has had great help from Dhoni,” former India captain Sunil Gavaskar wrote in a column in The Times of India.

Pune’s bowling arsenal boasts of fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat (22 wickets in 11 games) who is getting adequate support from fellow paceman Dan Christian, leg-spinner Adam Zampa and Sundar.

LEARNING FROM PAST MISTAKES

But two-time champions Mumbai would be no pushovers as skipper Rohit Sharma insisted that the team would take their confidence forward from the win against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the second qualifier.

Mumbai, who would be playing their fourth IPL final, have been the team to beat in this edition with 11 wins out of their 16 matches.

“We know that we have not performed well against them but conditions will be different for both the teams and we will try to learn from our past mistakes,” Sharma, whose team has lost all its three games against Pune this season, said.

“As a team you have to prepare for the unexpected.”

Champions in 2013 and 2015, Mumbai boast of a number of match-winners including some power-packed foreign presence in big-hitter Kieron Pollard and New Zealand fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan.

While McClenaghan did not play the last game due to an injury, Sharma insisted the team will take a call on their paceman ahead of the final game.

Wicketkeeper batsman Parthiv Patel has given the team many good starts in the tournament with Sharma, burly West Indian Pollard and Sharma also rising to the challenge.

Indian seamer Jasprit Bumrah has been the perfect death bowler for Mumbai with his ability to bowl consistent yorkers.

Provided by AFP

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Opportunity for Dhoni to show he is still the boss of T20

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The main man: MS Dhoni.

We are now down to two teams in the tenth edition of the IPL. This is the last season before everything changes. From the next season onward, there will new faces in charge, new team set-ups and a different line-up of franchises.

Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions won’t be there anymore, at least not in their current avatar. The two year ban on Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings will end. What happens next and which teams end up participating in the eleventh edition is not clear.

Also, all or a majority of players will go back into the auction pool and we will see new team compositions.

With so much about to happen, this edition of the IPL was important to make a lasting impression. Which means many ‘veterans’ of the T20 format had that much more pressure on them to show they are still worth investing for the next few years.

By some incredible turn of events, Mahendra Singh Dhoni – the undisputed champion of T20 – found himself in that category at the beginning of the 2017 IPL.

Here was an iconic limited overs batsman who was no longer the captain of the Indian team and was playing only in the limited overs format. And before the IPL started, we got to know that not only was Dhoni no longer captain of the Pune franchise, he has been removed from that position after a disastrous 2016 season and Steven Smith put at the helm.

As the IPL started, Harsh Goenka, brother of RPS owner Sanjeev, said the team has made the right decision by picking Smith instead of Dhoni as captain. Then at the beginning of this month, Goenka tweeted Pune was finding a new hero in every match. He named Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Imran Tahir and Smith. But again, no Dhoni.

Maybe Dhoni’s returns of 280 runs from 15 matches pale in comparison to his team-mates like Smith (421 runs), Tripathi (388), Ajinkya Rahane (338) or even Manoj Tiwary (317). But whenever Dhoni has fired, it has been critical.

Pune had lost three out of their first five matches and needed to kick their game up a notch. They found just that in the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, chasing down 177 off the last ball of the innings with Dhoni unbeaten on 61 from 34 balls.

Since that close win – which came after a nearly week-long break for them – Pune went on the offensive and lost only two of their next nine matches.

And in the most important game for the franchise, it was Dhoni who stole the show. In the first qualifier against Mumbai Indians, while Rahane (56 from 43 balls) and Tiwary (58 from 48 balls) were good, Dhoni was outstanding, hitting five sixes in his 26-ball 40 not out.

And let’s not forget his reflexes as a wicketkeeper remain as sharp as ever and he is one of the finest glovemen in world at the age of 35.

Dhoni is now in a familiar position. He will be playing in his seventh IPL final. Another significant performance from him in the title clash will show that he is still a gamechanger.

He doesn’t need to prove it as he is the most successful captain in the history of the limited overs cricket. But a fine knock at the big stage will serve as a gentle reminder to those who want to look beyond the wicketkeeper that he is still the boss when it comes to white ball cricket.

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Rising Pune Supergiant eye maiden Indian Premier League crown

Sport360 staff 20/05/2017
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Key man: Ben Stokes.

Steve Smith’s Rising Pune Supergiant eye their maiden Indian Premier League crown as they meet tournament favourites Mumbai Indians in a mouth-watering title clash in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Pune, who ended seventh in the eight-team Twenty20 tournament last year, had a mixed start this season only to pick up momentum towards the business end.

Pune’s record buy Ben Stokes proved to be the trump card as the England all-rounder’s showing with the bat and ball was instrumental in the side clinching a play-off berth.

But the team showed in the first qualifier against Mumbai that it is not a one-man army after young spinner Washington Sundar turned out to be the unlikely hero with his match-winning haul of three wickets.

Sundar’s performance made up for Stokes’ absence, after he left for national duty before the knockouts.

However Pune, whose two-year run along with Gujarat Lions ends this season, may be playing their last game in the cash-rich league after being denied an extension by the league’s governing council early this month.

The two banned franchises – Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals – are all set to come back in the next edition of the league, having served two year suspensions for their involvement in 2013 spot-fixing saga.

But captain Smith, who took charge from Mahendra Singh Dhoni ahead of this season, is focussed on the task at hand as he praised the team for its stupendous showing.

“You really need to peak at the right time in tournaments like this… It is a really exciting time for us,” Smith, who has accumulated 421 runs in 14 matches, said after his team booked the final spot.

Dhoni’s finishing powers might be on the wane but the gutsy wicketkeeper-batsman’s presence is enough to intimidate the opposition. His 26-ball unbeaten 40 in the previous game was a proof of his game-changing ability.

“Steve Smith has led the side admirably and got Pune into the finals. Of course he has had great help from Dhoni,” former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said in a column in The Times of India.

Pune’s bowling arsenal boasts fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat who is getting adequate support from fellow paceman Dan Christian, leg-spinner Adam Zampa and Sundar.

But two-time champions Mumbai will be no pushovers as skipper Rohit Sharma insisted that the team would take their confidence forward from the win against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the second qualifier.

Mumbai, who would be playing their fourth IPL final, have been the team to beat in this edition with 11 wins out of their 16 matches.

“We have been really working hard. We don’t shy away from going into the finals the hard way. Today was the perfect day. Gives you a lot of confidence,” Sharma said after their thumping win against Kolkata on Friday.

“We’ve not had a great history against (Pune). Just one more hurdle,” Sharma said, whose team has lost all its three games against Pune this season.

Champions in 2013 and 2015, Mumbai boast of a number of match-winners including some power-packed foreign presence in big-hitter Kieron Pollard and New Zealand fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan.

Wicket-keeper batsman Parthiv Patel has given the team many good starts in the tournament with Sharma, burly West Indian Pollard and Sharma also rising to the challenge.

Indian seamer Jasprit Bumrah has been the perfect death bowler for Mumbai with his ability to bowl consistent yorkers.

Source: AFP

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