The Rising Pune Supergiant secured their spot in the IPL final, after defeating the Mumbai Indians by 20 runs on Tuesday.
On Sunday the side from Pune weren’t even sure of their place in the top four, but two days later they find themselves with the first ticket to the final after recovering from a laboured batting display, thanks to an MS Dhoni blitz, before Washington Sundar’s spell with the ball ruined the Mumbai top order.
This was highly unexpected, seeing as RPS have lost arguably two of their best performers this season – Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir – to the ODI series between England and the Proteas next week. Never mind the fact that the Mumbai Indians won the group stages, and won the toss in their own backyard.
It just goes to show the unpredictability of the format, and RPS have now beaten the side from Mumbai three times this season. Steve Smith’s side have the luxury of a six-day rest before the final on Monday. Mumbai Indians will have another bite at the cherry when they face the winner between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The visitors were set back to 9-2 in the second over as Rahul Tripathi (0) and Smith (1) fell cheaply, but they have Ajinkya Rahane to thank for restoring parity. His 80-run stand with Manoj Tiwary was vital, and while he did eventually depart for 56, Dhoni came in at exactly the right time.
Dhoni was at one point on 14 off 17 balls, but the final two overs were absolute carnage, as the more measured Tiwary (58 off 48) was able to sit back and watch. Dhoni struck four sixes off eight balls for his side to score 41 off the last two overs, which included 26 off Mitchell McClenaghan’s (1-46) over. Jasprit Bumrah (0-33) then conceded 15, for Dhoni to score 40 off 26, and his side posted a respectable 162-4.
It was still doable for the hosts. Parthiv Patel was in cruise control as his partner Lendl Simmons only scored five of their 35 runs within 4.3 overs. But that’s where it all started to fall apart, as Simmons was run out.
A controversial lbw decision against skipper Rohit Sharma (0) then followed, as he clearly hit the ball first. Ambati Rayudu perished three balls later for Sundar’s second wicket of the over.
Kieron Pollard has proven to be more than handy in these situations, but not even he could contribute meaningfully, as he was sent packing for seven, for Sundar’s third. Sundar finished with figures of 3-16.
Patel kept going as he brought up his fifty, but he continued to lose partners around him. When he departed for 52 off 40 balls, his side were on 103-7, and that was just about game, set and match.
Shardul Thakur (3-37) also weighed in with three wickets of his own, and that included the wicket of Patel, only two balls after removing Krunal Pandya for 15. The hosts played out their 20 overs, but the tail were left stranded on 142-9 to hand RPS a spot in the final.
Photo: Shaun Roy/IPL/Cricinfo