Rising Pune Supergaint put up a dominant display at Pune on Sunday against Kings XI Punjab to seal a spot in the Indian Premier League playoffs for the first time.
The home side had their foot on the throat of the Punjab side from the time they won the toss and opted to field. Shardul Thakur (3/19) and the consistent Jaydev Unadkat (2/12) were the architects-in-chiefs for their side, dismissing Punjab out for a paltry 74, their lowest in IPL history.
Rahul Tripathi’s (28) breezy cameo at the start of the innings ensured that there were no hiccups for Pune during the chase, winning with nine wickets and eight overs to spare.
In-form Unadkat opens the floodgates
The Mumbai encounter showed what KXIP can do once they find their groove early on in the innings. Here, Unadkat outsmarted the dangerous Martin Guptill, snaring him first ball.
The left-armer’s best moment in the match, though, was when he sent Eoin Morgan packing with a direct hit from mid-on. It was the sort of effort that would have made Ravindra Jadeja proud. Unadkat, in his second spell, came back to get rid of Swapnil Singh in his second spell. He was never a guaranteed starter, but Unadkat has evolved into the lynchpin of the Pune bowling attack, and will be a major draw as his side moves into the final stages of the tournament.
The Dhoni-Christian story
Unadkat could have had ended up with better figures had Dhoni pouched a chance handed by Wriddhiman Saha early on. It was Dan Christian, who was standing at first slip, who should called for it. The former India captain’s failed to collect the ball despite diving full length to his right.
Lightening struck twice as there was further confusion between the two players later on behind the stumps – the ball would thread through the region between the keeper and first slip on two more occasions too. Quite fittingly, the duo joined hands to get rid of two Punjab batsmen and crucial ones at that in Saha and Axar Patel.
The Australian’s strategy to walk in at No.6 backfired spectacularly. It is hard to point out if it was Steve Smith’s brilliance with his field placements or if it was one of those days when Maxwell’s counter-attacking approach failed.
The delivery, a pretty ordinary one from Shardul Thakur was angled on the leg side. Maxwell effortlessly flicked the ball, which landed at comfortable height for Ajinkya Rahane, who was stationed at deep square-leg. Maxwell was left stunned.
All the Pune bowlers were on target and picked up regular wickets but Punjab’s efforts to limit the damage was also baffling. A more sensible approach would have been to patiently get a partnership going before launching into the bowlers.
Here, Punjab continued to take risks despite having half their side back in the dressing room – a ploy that fell flat on their faces. Even the lower order was looking to bash the ball over the ropes rather than trying to rotate strike. That being said, Punjab’s strategy of attacking from the first ball has resulted in a few wins in the tournament too.
Tripathi’s stock rises
Small targets can be tricky at times, as Pakistan found out against West Indies in a Test match recently. Rahul Tripathi, who has had a memorable year, calmed his side’s nerves with a slew of confident shots on both sides of the wicket. The Maharashtra batsman was stylish with with the cut, and smashed a classy six, picking the ball up on his front foot against spinner Rahul Tewatia. Tripathi, though, couldn’t stay long enough to take his side home.
- Kings XI Punjab 73 in 15.5 Overs (Axar Patel 22; Shardul Thakur 3/19, Dan Christian 2/10) lost to Rising Pune Supergiant 78/1 in 12 Overs (Ajinkya Rahane 28 not out, Rahul Tripathi 28; Axar Patel 1/13) by 9 wickets