Steve Smith smashed 84 off 54 balls as The Rising Pune Supergiant chased a 185-run target to beat the Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in Pune on Thursday.
This is the first season that MS Doni will not skipper the side, with Australia captain Steven Smith taking over the reigns from the experienced wicketkeeper-batsman.
Faf du Plessis was left out of the starting lineup in the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin, as RPS opted for two spinners. Imran Tahir got the nod to start with legbreaker Adam Zampa, who was their highest wicket taker last season.
Tahir, who went unsold in the IPL auction, was picked up late by the Supergiant’s after the injury of Mitchell Marsh and he proved his worth by ripping through MI’s top order.
Parthiv Patel (19 off 14 balls) was the first to go in Tahir’s first over, followed by their captain Rohit Sharma (3) and Jos Butler (38 off 19) in his next over to reduce MI to 63-3 after seven overs.
The Mumbai Indians continued to lose wickets thanks to Rajat Bhatia (2-14), Zampa (1-26) and Ben Stokes (1-36) who restricted the visitors to 154-7 by the 19th over.
A masterclass of power hitting by Hardik Pandya (35 off 15 balls) saw the 23-year-old all-rounder smash three sixes and a four in the final over to push the hosts to 184-8 in their 20 overs.
The Mumbai Indians, having never lost a match in which they’ve scored 184 or more, were obliterated by the opposition’s batsmen.
Despite losing an early wicket, Ajinkya Rahane led the way, supported superbly by Smith, the pair putting on 58 for the second wicket.
Rahane hit a 27-ball 50 which helped take him to 60 off 34 balls (three sixes, six fours) before losing his wicket to a spectacular forward diving catch by Nitish Rana for Tim Southee’s first wicket.
The IPL’s most expensive overseas player, Stokes, joined his captain as the pair put on a third-wicket partnership of 50 which saw Smith reach a 36-ball half-century.
Stokes fell on 21 off 14, but Smith continued his fine form as the game came to a nail-biting finish.
With 13 runs needed off the last over, Smith hit two massive sixes to claim a seven-wicket victory with one ball to spare, as RPS posted 187-3.
Smith ended on 84 off 54 balls (seven fours, three sixes) in a Man of the Match performance.