IPL 2017: The Steve Smith- MS Dhoni combination needs to click if Rising Pune Supergiant wishes to be a force to reckon with.
IPL 2017: In its maiden season in IPL, Rising Pune Supergiant was placed in the seventh spot while the other newcomer Gujarat Lions made all the noise. After the team realised that it had issues in finishing games, it made several new changes. Interestingly, Ben Stokes was bought for a huge amount of Rs 14.5 crores, even though he won’t be playing until the middle of the tournament because of his international duties. Another change was that the Sanjiv Goenka-owned Pune-based franchise made a decision to change the name of the team where it dropped the letter ‘S’ at the end of Supergiants. Meanwhile, the team needs to overcome a lot of issues, as even the star MS Dhoni who had captained Chennai Super Kings to five IPL finals could not recreate the magic and take the team to even the play-offs.
Meanwhile, the team has recently received another shock with the fact that Ashwin and Mitchell Marsh will not be playing the season because of injuries. But that has opened up an opportunity for Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa. Nevertheless, the team has issues in its pace attack. Apart from Dan Christian and Ben Stokes, the other domestic bowlers are fairly unknown. Pune will still have to back the erratic Ashok Dinda. Jaydev Unadkat will have to take up the responsibility at the death overs, or it will come down to Shardul Thakur. The team also faces problems when it comes to foreign players, as another star player Faf du Plessis may not be available for most of the tournament since England will be playing South Africa. Meanwhile, it is all upto captain Steve Smith to back all the players he has, for he also has a chance to redeem himself after the tough tour against India. Dhoni might be of some help.
Full Squad: Rising Pune Supergiant:
Steven Smith, MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Mitchell Marsh, Ashok Dinda, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Adam Zampa, Jaskaran Singh, Baba Aparajith, Deepak Chahar, Usman Khawaja, Mayank Agarwal.
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Ben Stokes (14.50 Cr), Jaydev Unadkat (30 Lakh), Rahul Chahar (10 Lakh), Saurabh Kumar (10 Lakh), Dan Christian (1 Cr), Milind Tandon (10 Lakh), R Tripathi (10 Lakh), Manoj Tiwary (50 Lakh), Lockie Ferguson (50 Lakh).
Steven Smith: Smith loves to play against India. In the recent Test series, he showcased great batting in all the pitches. In the last IPL, he got scores of 31, 46, 101 and 45 but was ruled out because of an injury. Smith, despite his recent issues, is an international leader and him being at the helm, fortunes of Pune can turn in no time. Smith, running through a purple patch, will be a big plus for the team.
Ajinkya Rahane: Rahane, led the Indian team in the last Test of the Australia series when Virat Kohli was unavailable due to injury. He impressed on his captaincy debut. In IPL 9, Ajinkya Rahane had scored 480 runs at 43.63, which included 6 half-centuries. With newcomer Mayank Agarwal, Pune will have a solid opening combination.
MS Dhoni: Dhoni, for the first time in IPL’s 10-year history, will not be playing as a captain. It all comes down to how well he fits in the playing eleven. His contribution with the bat will be very crucial. He will also have to back Smith as the latter does not know most of the domestic players. Dhoni also has some good match practice behind him, as he played some good innings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. If the Smith-Dhoni combo really clicks, Rising Pune Supergiant will be a force to reckon with.
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List of matches:
Match 1: Rising Pune Supergiant vs Mumbai Indians, April 6 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 2: Kings XI Punjab vs Rising Pune Supergiant, April 8 2017, 16:00 IST
Match 3: Rising Pune Supergiant vs Delhi Daredevils, April 11 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 4: Gujarat Lions vs Rising Pune Supergiant, April 14 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 5: RCB vs Rising Pune Supergiant, April 16 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 6: Rising Pune Supergiant vs SRH, April 22 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 7: Mumbai Indians vs Rising Pune Supergiant, April 24 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 8: Rising Pune Supergiant vs KKR, April 26 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 9: Rising Pune Supergiant vs RCB, April 29 2017, 16:00 IST
Match 10: Rising Pune Supergiant vs Gujarat Lion, May 1 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 11: KKR vs Rising Pune Supergiant, May 3 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 12: SRH vs Rising Pune Supergiant, May 6 2017, 16:00 IST
Match 13: Delhi Daredevils vs Rising Pune Super Giant, May 12 2017, 20:00 IST
Match 14: Rising Pune Supergiant vs Kings XI Punjab, May 14 2017, 16:00 IST