The Rising Pune Super Giants got off to a perfect start as they defeated the Mumbai Indians by 9 wickets in the opening game of IPL 2016. Everything went according to plan for the Pune team as their seamers struck early blows from which Mumbai could never recover. Requiring 122 to win, Ajinkya Rahane played a wonderful innings to ensure that the match was won comfortably. It is a kind of victory that that will make other teams sit up and take notice. There is no denying that the RPS are going to be a force to reckon with in this tournament.
The pitch at the Wankhede stadium was expected to produce a lot of runs but the Mumbai Indians batsman could not adjust to the pace and bounce of the track. Captain Rohit Sharma was dismissed early and Lendl Simmons could not reproduce the magic that he produced in the World t20 semifinal against India at the same venue. Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Mitch Marsh and Bhatia all bowled with control and the Mumbai batsman could not get away. Murugan Ashwin looked impressive though strangely Ravichandran Ashwin bowled only one over making us wonder why MS Dhoni is so reluctant to use him these days. Yet there was no momentum in the Mumbai innings and it was only Harbhajan’s 41 of 30 deliveries that ensured that Mumbai crossed 120.
In reply the Pune team was always in control. Rahane seemed keen to prove a point and with the asking rate not too steep he settled down to play some glorious strokes .Innings like the one he played today makes you wonder how anybody can think that Rahane cannot play the T20 game. The opening partnership between Rahane and Faf Du Plessis produced 78 runs and virtually killed the game for MI and Kevin Pietersen walked out and completed the formalities. The Pune team barely broke a sweat today.
Pune look formidable. The bowling combination seems to have been perfectly picked with Ishant, RP providing the experience and swing early on and Bhatia and Marsh the seam bowling all-rounders. The two Ashwin’s are a potent spin bowling combination and Rahane, Du Plessis, Pietersen, Steve Smith and MS Dhoni can win matches on their own with the bat.
Today was the first game but the message has been sent out by the Rising Pune Super Giants. Other teams should take them lightly at their own peril.