After a dismal inaugural season that saw them finishing at seventh position in the eight-team tournament, Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) were in a desperate need to kick start the tenth edition on a good note and they did that in style. Chasing an imposing total of 185 against two-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians (MI), their newly-appointed skipper Steve Smith sealed the win with two consecutive sixes in the last over.
After being invited to bat first by Smith, Mumbai was off to a blistering start with their openers adding 45 runs in no time before their innings was derailed by Imran Tahir’s sensational display. The leg-spinner dismissed Parthiv Patel, Rohit Sharma and Jos Buttler in the space of 10 balls to leave the visitors reeling at 62 for 3. MI kept on losing wickets at regular interval and were looking destined to post a below par total before Hardik Pandya hit Ashok Dinda for 4 sixes and a boundary in the last over to fire his team 184 for 8.
RPS needed a good start to chase down the total and Ajinkya Rahane and Mayank Agarwal did exactly that by adding 35 runs inside three overs before the latter was dismissed by Mitchell McClenaghan. But the wicket did not affect Rahane’s batting as he kept on playing his shots and scored 60 from only 34 balls before returning to the pavilion. Steve Smith then took care of the chase and scored an unbeaten 84 from only 54 balls to guide his team home.
Rahane attended the post-match conference and spoke on various topics ranging from his batting to a comparison between Smith and MS Dhoni and much more.
On his innings:
When you are chasing 80-190, it is important to continue that momentum after first six overs. I knew I was batting really well and I was striking the ball really well. So, for me, it was important to play with the same momentum. Smith was completely new at that time, so I just wanted to take my chances and play my normal shots. I didn’t take any risk but it was important for both of us to keep rotating the strike and hit one boundary or six in the over.
On the batting strategy:
“First of all, I felt Hardik really batted well in that last over. When you know that you are chasing 180-plus, it’s openers’ job to consolidate initially. In T20 you have to take chances especially chasing high scores. So for me and Mayank, our discussion was to play positive cricket. We didn’t set any target in the first six overs and just we just wanted to play our attacking game and later on capitalise on that. Unfortunately, he got out but I was batting well and Smith was there. I just told him I will take my chances and you just carry on and try to play long innings.
On comparisons between Dhoni and Smith:
“It is very difficult to say right now because this is my first game under Smith. I played under Mahi Bhai’s captaincy and we all know he is a world-class captain. People should not compare Smith and Dhoni. MS Dhoni is still a world-class leader and he was giving inputs to Smith. Smith obviously did well for Australia but for me, MS Dhoni is still the best leader. Smith is learning from Dhoni and I was actually watching that he was taking advises from Dhoni, so he would like to take more advises from Dhoni in coming games.
On the inclusion of Imran Tahir and Adam Zampa in the playing eleven:
” Both of them are attacking and they actually look to take wickets and that is very important in T20. If you know your leg-spinners are looking to take wickets, that’s a really good sign. Both of them have done really well. Zampa did really well for us last season. Imran Tahir, we all know, is a world-class bowler. It’s good to have both of them on our side and we know as a team that they always look to take wickets so that was the thinking behind it.