In cricket, there are very few thing as mesmerising as the rise of a team from the ashes. The Indian Premier League has its own charm and aura, it has provided an ideal platform for many and been a boon to the domestic cricketers. Rising Pune Supergiant finished seventh last season but have punched above their weight this time and booked a berth in the final. A fine blend of talent and experience have created wonders for RisingPune Supergiant as the team have put an impressive performance in the tournament so far.
Rising Pune Supergiant made some smart purchases in the Player auctions and brought balance to the side. They invested in English all-rounder Ben Stokes, which paid off and brought immense stability in the line-up. Initially, not many were convinced with Steve SMith’s appointment as the skipper ahead of MS Dhoni in the side but both the stalwarts have complemented each other well to steer Pune where they are at the moment. They have worked as a unit and clicked at the right time, every player responded and stepped up when the team was in need.
RPS wasted no time in replacing an in-form Mayank Agarwal with Rahul Tripathi as the former struggled to get going at the top. Tripathi grabbed the golden opportunity with the hands to make an immediate impact with his belligerence and valiant stroke-play. Jaydev Unadkat played a solitary game in the previous edition for he Kolkata Knight Riders but has had a different role to be played for the Rising Pune Supergiant. Although there was a dearth of an effective pace bowler in the RPS dugout but Unadkat stepped up to this opportunity and has done a commendable job with the ball.
Unadkat is second on the list of purple cap holder (for most wickets), in the tournament with 22 scalps to his name. Smith was instrumental behind his success as the RPS skipper made good use of his variations in the death overs, which is where he bagged wickets in heap. Unadkat has picked 16 wickets in the end overs and has restricted the batsmen on most of the occasions. More importantly, Steve Smith invested in him and persisted in tough times.
Teams with just star players and budding talents have struggled to get going this season, which is where RPS stand out. Royal Challengers Bangalore had some big names, probably the best names in the line-up but their failure cost them dearly while Delhi Daredevils also didn’t reap enough fruitful results with some budding talents in the side. The inconsistency of the young guns and inability to perform on a regular basis turned out to be one of the main reasons behind Delhi Daredevils’ failure. But, it wasn’t the scenario with RPS. Their team gelled well and settled in quickly to make things happen.
RPS didn’t have enough resources to choose from, their options were pretty much limited but they made some wise investments, which eventually paid off. A 17-year-old off-spinner was given opportunities and the lanky bowler delivered in the high-voltage Qualifier 1 against Mumbai Indians. He also bowled the tough overs in the power-play whenever Smith asked him to. Immense faith was shown in Ajinkya Rahane and it started finding form at a crucial time and made a lot of difference. Manoj Tiwary was used in an effective way and was often shuffled in the batting order as per the situation demanded. The team did well in the absence of Imran Tahir, who has been their another wicket-taking option with the ball.
RPS were in a huge dilemma after Ben Stokes departure due to the upcoming One-Day International series between England and South Africa. He has been their man in-form and filled the shoes of not only an impactful bowler but also an attacking batsman in the middle-order. RPS did well in overcoming the huge barrier and took some bold decision in the first Qualifier against Mumbai Indians to register an emphatic win. They have won all three games against Mumbai Indians this season and will look to do so once again in the ultimate encounter.
Saying that MS Dhoni is a legend would be an understatement. He has an uncanny knack of making it to the finals of tournaments irrespective of formats. This is the seventh time when Dhoni is featuring in the IPL final, which speaks volumes about his effectiveness as a captain as well as a batsman. He was often seen giving inputs to the skipper and the partnership between Smith and Dhoni on the field along with the latter’s maverick hitting has played a massive role in RPS’ success.
A team can be formed with 11 players but it takes a while for these 11 members to settle in and understand each other’s game properly. A team can only do well if they gel together, which is what RPS have done aptly so far. From seventh position in the last edition to a probability of finishing first, RPS’ journey has been an incredible one. Yes, Rising Pune Supergiant have nothing to lose; they may not even feature in the next edition, which in a way can give them the liberty to fire with all guns. This is their golden chance to sign off on a high and with the momentum being with them one can expect them to do so. Both the swords are evenly sharpened and the encounter between these two will be electrifying.
Once again, Dhoni will have a huge role to play in the final with the kind of experience and temperament he possesses in handling these nerve-wracking situations. Smith is also a big match player and will influence the team’s morale with his success with the bat. Whether RPS will have their hand on the trophy or not is a mystery at the moment but they have certainly won thousands of hearts. As of now, Hyderabad is all set to witness the tenth IPL final, which kick starts in few hours.