Faf du Plessis struck 34 for the Rising Pune Supergiants as they cruised to a massive nine-wicket victory against the Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2016 opener on Saturday.
The World T20 only finished last weekend, but the T20 festival continued in India with the ninth edition of the IPL, and Rising Pune Supergiants, making their debut in the tournament, proved a devastating unknown entity to the defending champions Mumbai Indians, blowing them away with 32 balls to spare.
Mumbai won the toss and chose to have a bat first with their powerful top six. Lendl Simmons, Man of the Match from the final against the Chennai Super Kings in the 2015 final, opened the batting with Rohit Sharma, but it was another Sharma, Ishant, who made his mark.
The lanky fast bowler ripped through the openers, sending both Simmons (8) and Sharma (7) back cheaply. Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh was introduced into the attack in the fifth over, and that saw another two wickets fall, as Hardik Panda went for nine, before English World T20 star Jos Buttler fell for a duck. They were left reeling on 30-4 before the Powerplay overs had even finished.
Not even Kieron Pollard, injured for the global showpiece, could stop the onslaught, as he went for one. It took Ambati Rayudu and seasoned campaigner Harbhajan Singh to give the side from Mumbai something to work with. Rayudu scored 22 before Du Plessis took a good, low catch to send him back.
Harbhajan then gave the home crowd at Wankhede stadium something to cheer about, as he struck 45, including 14 off the last over, to claw his side to 121-8.
It very quickly became obvious that this wasn’t going to be enough, as Ajinkya Rahane and Du Plessis wasted no time in smacking the boundaries in the first six overs. Once Du Plessis had set himself, he went on the attack and hit two sixes in the fifth over off Mitchell McClenaghan to put the side in a commanding position.
They waltzed to 78 inside 10 overs before the Proteas skippers’ knock had to come to and end, Harbhajan bowling him for a 33-ball 34. That only made Rahane up the tempo with Kevin Pietersen at the other end smashing 48 in five overs, with a six putting the seal on a brilliant batting display from Rahane (66 not out), and a clinical display in all from the Rising Pune Supergiants on their debut.