Rising Pune Supergiant stunned Mumbai Indians by 20 runs at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday in the first Indian Premier League qualifier and book their place in the final for the first time.

It was the Mumbai bowlers who were on top for much of their innings after being put into bat. After losing two early wickets, a timely 80-run stand between Ajinkya Rahane (56) and Manoj Tiwary (58*) helped their side get some momentum back. A belligerent late MS Dhoni burst helped Pune get to a respectable total of 162/4.

Mumbai openers got them off to a positive start and looked poised to chase down the total when Parthiv Patel (52) was getting boundaries at will during the powerplay overs. However, a brilliant effort by Steve Smith’s bowlers, picking up four wickets in the space of 16 runs in the space of 21 balls, turned the contest in Pune’s favour.

Patel waged a lone fight as the Mumbai batsmen wilted under the pressure created by spinner Washington Sundar (3/16), who was easily the pick of the bowlers. Mumbai’s selection, which included dropping veteran Harbhajan Singh for the contest, backfired miserably.

Mumbai’s dream start

Lasith Malinga exults after dismissing Rising Pune Supergiant skipper Steve Smith. Image Courtesy: Shaun Roy/Sportzpics/IPL

Rohit Sharma’s men were aggressive from the get-go, offering very little width and getting the ball to shape away from a good length area. Rahul Tripathi is someone who has made his name by getting off to quick starts but here, he was undone by a peach of a delivery by Mitchell McClenaghan, which rattled his stumps. The Maharashtra batsman has only managed to pick up 36 runs from his last four innings.

However, it was Lasith Malinga who landed the most important blow, outsmarting Steve Smith with a slow delivery which spat off the wicket and clipped the Australian’s top-edge, and Hardik Pandya took a safe catch at short third-man. Pune were on the backfoot straightaway and the first change bowlers – Jasprit Bumrah and Karn Sharma – also offered little freebies during the powerplay overs. For Malinga, it was a tale of redemption as he has drawn a fair amount of flack for some below-par performances this season.

The Sri Lankan has lost a bit of pace and zing but once again but his guile and his tendency to step up during big games hasn’t faded one bit.

Rahane-Tiwary’s stand

Image Credit: Shaun Roy - Sportzpics - IPL

With their team tottering at 9/2, Rahane and Manoj Tiwary picked up the pieces and built a solid 80-run stand from 65 balls. It was the Mumbai-based batsman who showed more intent in early overs. Atleast on a couple of occasions during the powerplay, Rahane made room to thump the ball through the cover region, which resulted in boundaries.

Tiwary, meanwhile, was happy to rotate the strike. Despite getting the runs at a fluent rate, the batters struggled to pick up during the final leg of the innings. Tiwary took as many as 45 balls to complete his half-century. This applied considerable pressure on the lower-order batsmen, but that was set up by Krunal Pandya’s (0/21 in four Overs) disciplined bowling.

Dhoni’s late cameo

Image credit: Shaun Roy/Sportzpics/IPL

Dhoni was promoted up the order and during the initial phase of his stay, struggled to keep the scoreboard moving despite pounding a huge six off McClenaghan; his first 19 runs came from 20 balls.

In trademark Dhoni style, he capitalised on the pressure that the opposition bowlers are under trying to land the ball on the full in the final overs. The Ranchi dasher got five big hits, targeting a different part of the ground for each one of his sixes. The pick of the lot was the one that was carted over the cover-point region against Bumrah. Bumrah took quite a beating in his final over too, which yielded 15 runs off it. Yet again, the 35-year-old showed that he is peerless when it comes to mapping out when to slog during the ‘death’ overs.

Rohit Sharma’s dismissal

There have been quite a few bad dismissals this season and Rohit Sharma was once again hard done by as he was given out leg-before when replays showed that the ball hat clipped the back end of his bat. There were no protests here. The Mumbai skipper shook his head and made the long walk back.

When Sharma had walked to the crease, his side were in command after Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons got them off to a solid start. His dismissal opened the floodgates for Pune as Sundar and Co. ran skittled through the middle order.

Washington Sundar

RPS's Washington Sundar. Image credit: Shaun Roy/Sportzpics/IPL

The Tamil Nadu youngster probably had the best night of his fledgling career, showing maturity well beyond his 17-years. When he was handed the ball, his opponents were getting boundaries in fairly quick succession. Sundar not only provided the breakthroughs, but kept the runs in check.

It was a case of sensible bowling getting the better of the batsmen. At the toss, Rohit Sharma had mentioned that the team chasing down a score would have it easier because of the dew, and Mumbai’s good history with chasing down targets. The pitch only got slower as the night progressed and the quicker, full delivery of Sundar that skidded onto the batsmen became quite an ordeal for the home side. Safe catching, which has also been a rarity during the tournament, from the Pune fielders played a part in Sundar picking up crucial wickets of Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu in addition to Sharma’s wicket. Strangely enough, the Pune fielders did drop a couple of simple catches.

Brief score:

  • Rising Pune Supergiant 162/4 in 20 Overs (Manoj Tiwary 58*, Ajinkya Rahane 56; Lasith Malinga 1/14) beat Mumbai Indians 142/9 in 20 Overs (Parthiv Patel 52; Washington Sundar 3/16, Shardul Thakur 3/37) by 20 runs