On May 16 Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) became the first team to reach the finals of the 10th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) by beating the much-fancied Mumbai Indians (MI) at their home ground Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. MI captain Rohit Sharma chose to field first upon winning the toss and his bowlers were able to restrict RPS to 163. The main scorers for RPS were Ajinkya Rahane (56 from 43 balls) and Manoj Tiwary (58 from 48 balls). MS Dhoni (40 from 26 balls) gave the innings a late impetus and ensured that the score was a respectable one in the end. The 4 wickets were shared by Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, and Karn Sharma.
Defending a low score
Chasing a low score it was expected that MI would at least win, if not in a canter. However, Tiwary had stated quite clearly at the innings break that the wicket was a slow one and the ball was not coming on to the bat. As such, according to him, 163 was a defendable score. His words proved prophetic as RPS bowlers struck repeated blows and restricted the team to 142 for 9. Young spinner Washington Sundar claimed 3 wickets and was ably supported by pace bowler Shardul Thakur who took 3 wickets as well. Parthiv Patel top scored for MI with 52 from 40 balls.
What does this mean for MI?
MI finished the group stage at the top – with 20 points from 14 games. This loss would surely have come as a shock for them but at the same time it also needs to be kept in mind that RPS has defeated them in both their league encounters this season. So, in that sense this should not come as a surprise. They still have a chance of making it to the finals as they will get to play the winner of the eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the second qualifier to be played in Bengaluru on May 19. The eliminator will be played in Bengaluru as well on May 17.
How is the eliminator shaping up?
The eliminator will be played between SRH, who happen to be the defending champions, and KKR who are looking to add the third trophy to their cabinet. Both the teams have played creditably so far and their present status in the tournament is a testament to that. Both of them started the league phase in dominant fashion only to slip up later on and end up in the third and fourth positions respectively. Even without some of their key players – Chris Woakes for KKR and Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra for SRH – both the teams are quite well balanced and as such the game appears to be a mouth-watering prospect to say the least.
What does this mean for RPS?
At the end of IPL 2016, RPS finished second in the wooden spoon stakes. From there the team has risen in a remarkable way, to say the least. The management made several changes like installing Steven Smith as captain over MS Dhoni and buying players such as Ben Stokes and Daniel Christian at the auction. They performed really well as did Indian nationals such as MS Dhoni, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, and Ajinkya Rahane. Local Indian talent such as Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar, and Shardul Thakur stepped up admirably. The absence of Ashwin was covered admirably by the likes of Tahir and Zampa. In all, it has been a victory of the team effort and key contributions in crunch moments.