Rising Pune Supergiants made a grand entry into the IPL on Saturday defeating defending champions Mumbai Indians by nine wickets in the opener at the Wankhede stadium. Pune had restricted the home side to 121 with Mitchell Marsh taking two crucial wickets, before Rahane destroyed the Mumbai bowling.
Chasing a moderate total of 122, Pune got off to a great start with Ajinkya Rahane smashing Mitchell McClenaghan for two boundaries in the opening over. The Mumbai cricketer, who played his entire domestic cricket at the Wankhede, dished out similar treatment to the Kiwi pacer in the third over with a straight drive, which rocketed towards the boundary. With du Plessis playing the role of a silent partner at the other end, Rahane continued his aggressive intent taking a special liking to McClenaghan and pulled the Kiwi over deep square leg for the first maximum of the innings in the fifth over.
Du Plessis followed the partner’s lead and made it two sixes off the over with a mistimed hit, which went over the long on boundary. With the Pune side cruising, Mumbai needed some luck to get back into the match and they almost had it just before the end of the powerplay after Rahane and du Plessis had a misunderstanding in the middle. Faf went for a second run after Rahane nudged the ball to square leg, but with Rahane happy with one, both batsmen were stranded at the same end giving Mumbai an easy run out chance. But, the home side made a mess of it with Buttler fumbling the ball before losing the race to the stumps to du Plessis.
The South African made most of the chance given by the opposition and took Bumrah to the cleaners with two sixes to end the powerplay at 57/0. Needing less than five runs per an over in the next 14, Pune had a walk in the park with Rahane and du Plessis running the show. With the match out of their hands, Rohit Sharma introduced Harbhajan Singh, expecting a similar effect from the turbunator as he had in the first innings. The ploy worked perfectly as the off-spinner removed Faf du Plessis in his opening over for 34 off 33 after a ball sneaked through the gap bat and pad during an attempted sweep by the South African.
Kevin Pietersen arrived next and announced his arrival with a monster hit off Harbhajan over long on. Rahane brought up the inaugural half-century off IPL 9, the next over with a boundary through midwicket and took the team to a victory with 32 balls to spare to win the Maharashtra derby.
Earlier, after turning out for their countries in the World T20, all the stars of the shortest format returned to their respective franchises for the Indian Premier League carnival as defending champions Mumbai Indians took on newcomers Rising Pune Supergiants in the inaugural match of the season.
Mumbai Indians chose Lendl Simmons, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard and Mitchell McClenaghan as their four overseas players for the match, while newcomers Rising Pune Supergiants opted to bolster their batting by including Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Kevin Pietersen and Mitchell Marsh in their line-up. Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma, who were on opposite sides the last time they played at the Wankhede, came out to open the innings in front of a capacity crowd after Mumbai won the toss.
R P Singh ran in to bowl the first ball of the ninth edition of the IPL against his former team after having donned the blue of the Mumbai side in the 2012 season. But it was the second over that really kick started the Pune side’s arrival to the IPL after Ishant Sharma trapped opposition skipper Rohit Sharma right in front of the stumps.
Then came a surprise, as Hardik Pandya arrived at No.3 jumping above all the top-order batsmen in the line-up. The home crowd expected some big hits from the all-rounder, and he delivered it in the fourth over smashing Ishant Sharma for back-to-back boundaries. But, things nosedived from there on for the home side, losing three wickets in a matter of eight deliveries.
Simmons saw his stumps uprooted after missing a straight delivery from Ishant, while Pandya and Jos Buttler fell to Mitchell Marsh with the pitch assisting seam bowlers. Batsmen followed one after the another as the home side fell like a pack of cards in front of their own fans.
It seemed that nothing had changed for Dhoni apart from the jerseys. Captian cool’s Midas touch continued as Rajat Bhatia, who came in to bowl after the powerplay, also picked a wicket with his first ball, this time trapping Pollard right in front of the stumps. Struggling at 40/5 in the eighth over, the home side was almost out of the match, and even the strategic break was not able to help them out of the misery.
Leggie Murugan Ashwin also picked a wicket in the first over of his IPL career and removed Shreyas Gopal to become the fourth bowler to pick a wicket in his first over of the innings. The wicket in the first over pattern continued as Ravichandran Ashwin also earned a scalp with his first delivery removing Ambati Rayudu, who had been holding one end for the home side, for 22. With wickets falling one after another and runs not coming, the defending champions looked lost in the middle, but Harbhajan Singh produced a tremendous fightback in the last three overs scoring 41 runs to take the home side to a moderate total of 121/8.