After the Rising Pune ‘Supergiants’ finished seventh in the points table, the think tank decided to make some massive changes including the appointment Steve Smith as captain instead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The change worked in favour of the team as Pune became the first team to enter the final of IPL 2017 and will take on the two-time champions Mumbai Indians on Sunday. Throughout the tournament, MS Dhoni has faced some criticism for his performances with the bat but this time franchise owner Sanjiv Goenka took it one step further.
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During an interaction with the Hindustan Times, Goenka said Dhoni is one of the greatest minds but Steve Smith is ahead of the former Indian captain. “MS is one of the greatest minds I have interacted with. And he is the best wicketkeeper in the world. The one mind ahead of Dhoni’s is Smith’s. My brief to Smith was: ‘win the championship’. The first season was a disaster and I wanted it to end soonest, with our dignity intact,” Goenka said.
Rising Pune Supergiant got off to a shaky start before bouncing back in the later half of the tournament. The team won 8 out of its last 10 league matches and made it to the playoffs where it defeated the Mumbai Indians for the third time in the season. “It’s difficult to believe the way he has planned some dismissals, the tact and firmness with which he has dealt with tricky situations and the win-or-nothing attitude he has been able to infuse in the team, get them to gel as a unit. And he’s gone out in the strategic timeouts to tell batsmen to either score 30 off the next 12 balls or get out. If we had a bad start, it was because Smith was out with food poisoning.” Goenka added.
Watch Dhoni’s knock from Qualifier 1:
Talking about the signings of Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir who left after the league round, he said, “You need to win eight-nine games to make the playoffs and Smith told me that between him, (Imran) Tahir and (Ben) Stokes, we would win seven. And players of the calibre of MS will always give you something. We had more match winners this time, players who would need five-six balls to settle down instead of 20. And we hadn’t factored in Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat. Tripathi and Sundar are going to be serious players on the Indian cricket scene.”