Pune stand between Mumbai and third IPL title

Young Washington Sundar took advantage of the pitch and broke Mumbai Indians apart to produce his best performance of the IPL.

The commercial for TVS Motor Company of which Dhoni has been the brand ambassador was released in early January 2016 for promotions during the harvest festival of Pongal.

Captain Steve Smith will bat at number three slot and will have to play the most the middle overs to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Ashok Dinda, Lockie Ferguson, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Kumar, Washington Sundar, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur. Certainly MS for a period of time and Steve is right up there if not the best batsman in the world at the moment. And he's gone out in the strategic timeouts to tell batsmen to either score 30 from the next 12 balls or get out.

"You need to win eight (or) nine games to make the playoffs and Smith told me that between him, (Imran) Tahir and (Ben) Stokes, we would win seven".

MS Dhoni suddenly hit the purple patch and gave Pune their second biggest victory of the tournament against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad. We had more match winners this time, players who would need five (to) six balls to settle down instead of 20. Mumbai would be relieved that two stalwart Pune players in Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir are unavailable due to global commitments, but RPS have proved this season that they are not one trick pony and have unearthed likes of Rahul Tripathi, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur to reach the final summit.

Tripathi, who failed to get going in the first qualifier against Mumbai Indians, after getting out for a duck, however, pledged to back his instincts in the IPL final in Hyderabad on Sunday.

The journey from near bottom to finalists took some radical changes in approach. "If we had a bad start, it was because Smith was out with food poisoning", said Goenka. The last qualifier which was between MI and RPS was taken by RPS to reach the final directly while MI took a route which is longer.

The phenomenal rise of RPS visibly runs parallel with more and more games they have played this season.

The duo might as well have to play a restrained inning if RPS suffers another batting collapse up in the order. So, we have fielded better. That's more important. I am working hard even when I am not playing. "We didn't want to be like a franchise that doesn't invest its Rs 66 crore purse and is happy finishing fifth, but a year ago I didn't know better".

Also in contention are Martin Guptill's brilliant one-handed catch, an Andrew Tye hat-trick, the fastest fifty in IPL history - courtesy of Sunil Narine - and a brilliant KKR bowling effort that saw RCB dismissed for an IPL record low total of 49. Rising Pune Supergiant will lock horns with Mumbai Indians on May 21, hoping to get their hands on the title before being dissolved ahead of the 2018 season.

  • Joanne Flowers