Rising Pune Supergiant climbed into the top half of IPL 2017 standings after they defeated defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad by 6 wickets in a thrilling run chase at the MCA Stadium on Saturday evening.
After being given to chase 177, RPS were powered at the top by Rahul Tripathi, before the ‘finisher’ MS Dhoni took centerstage and saw his team across the finish line.
RPS needed 30 off the last two overs, and SRH would have backed themselves to defend it after defending similar situations in the last couple of matches. But Dhoni is a class above all, and he just showed why; he took the match to the end, but backed himself to finish the job – just like he has done so often in the past – and duly took his team home.
The dismissal of the experienced Ajinkya Rahane at the start of the fourth over didn’t impact the hosts in their pursuit 177.
Opener Rahul Tripathi expressed himself and took the attack to the SRH bowlers first up; by the time the powerplay overs had been bowled, he had race to 47 from 26 balls and RPS were 55-1.
In the ninth over, the opener brought up his maiden half-century in T20 cricket – consuming 32 balls to get to the milestone.
Steven Smith, fresh from his holiday in Dubai, took a little time to get going while Tripathi was going berserk at the other end. But in the tenth over, the RPS captain cut loose, hitting consecutive sixes off Bipul Sharma in the spinner’s final over.
In the following over though, the RPS captain dragged one from Rashid Khan back onto his stumps and the 72-run partnership was broken.
Tripathi was dismissed at the start of the fourteenth over, run out by a direct hit from Rashid Khan, while attempting a risky single; the opener made 59 from 41 balls, studded with six fours and three sixes.
That set the stage for MS Dhoni. He was slow off the blocks, but stepped on the gas at the right time.
At one stage, Dhoni had 26 from 23 balls, before he scored 35 off the next 11 balls to eventually finish unbeaten on 61 from 34 balls.
The former captain hit five fours and three sixes; he milked Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 17 runs in the crucial nineteenth over, and then polished off the chase with a last-ball boundary.
Manoj Tiwary gave him company at the end with an unbeaten 17 from 8 balls.
Rashid Khan was the most-impressive bowler in the match; on a day that saw a total of 355 runs scored in forty overs, the leg-spinner from Afghanistan finished with exceptional figures of 4-0-17-1 – an economy rate of 4.25. Bipul Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were the other wicket-takers for SRH.
Earlier in the evening, Sunrisers Hyderabad got off to a steady start and batted pretty much in run-a-ball mode, before Moises Henriques stepped on the accelerator in the final five overs.
David Warner was far from the free-scoring batsman he is known to be, but he did the hard yards and batted until the 17th over; the SRH captain made a workman-like 43 from 40 balls, which included three boundaries and a six, before he was castled by Jaydev Unadkat.
At the start of the sixteenth over, SRH were 113-2 and appeared headed towards a below-par 160.
But Moises Henriques, who scored a 26-ball half-century, and Deepak Hooda (19 from 10) gave the innings impetus at the business end and helped their team to a competitive 176.
Henriques struck six fours and two sixes and finished unbeaten on 55 from 28 balls.
Shikhar Dhawan made 30 from 29 balls and stitched together a 55-run partnership at the top, while Kane Williamson made a fluent 14-ball 21. Deepak Hooda, who batted at number five, chipped in with 19 from ten deliveries.
The debutant Washington Sundar – all of 17 years of age – and thrown into the deep end straightaway after being asked to bowl with the new ball, and Daniel Christian (1-20) were the most impressive bowlers for RPS. Unadkat and Imran Tahir were the other wicket-takers for the hosts.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 176-3 (Moises Henriques 55*, David Warner 43) lost to Rising Pune Supergiant: 179-3 (MS Dhoni 61*, Rahul Tripathi 59) by 7 wickets.
Man-of-the-Match: MS Dhoni