Mumbai v Supergiants, IPL 2016, Mumbai April 9, 2016

Seamers, Rahane lift Supergiants to winning start

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Rising Pune Supergiants 126 for 1 (Rahane 66*, du Plessis 34) beat Mumbai Indians 121 for 8 (Harbhajan 45*, Marsh 2-21) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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'We tried our best' - Harbhajan Singh

Rising Pune Supergiants made a sweet start to their life in the IPL, their seamers waylaying Mumbai Indians' top order to set up a breezy nine-wicket win over the defending champions. Chasing 122, they got there with 32 balls to spare, Ajinkya Rahane steering them home with a fluent unbeaten 66 off 42 balls.

The pitch had lost most of its early bite when Supergiants batted, and Rahane quickly got into the groove with a pair of straight-driven fours off Mitchell McClenaghan, in the first and third overs of the innings. Any residual chasing nerves Supergiants may have had dissipated in McClenaghan's third over - the fifth of the innings - when both Rahane and Faf du Plessis picked up sixes off mis-hits; they probably would not have carried all the way on a bigger ground.

Nonetheless, Supergiants were well on their way, and the openers put on 78 before du Plessis played on to Harbhajan. It left the rest of the batting a mere 44 to get from 62 balls, and Kevin Pietersen hastened their passage home with a couple of monster sixes off Harbhajan. The 15th over began with Supergiants needing eight to win, and Rahane finished the game with two sixes in four balls, clubbing Hardik Pandya over the long-on boundary and then ramping him over the third man boundary.

Mumbai made life easier for Supergiants, with Jos Buttler fluffing a chance to run du Plessis out after a dreadful mix-up between the openers, and Shreyas Gopal missing a caught-and-bowled off Rahane.

The season began on a Wankhede Stadium pitch dissimilar to the easy-paced, hit-through-the-line surfaces offered up during the World T20, and Mumbai, after surprisingly deciding to bat first, struggled against the seam movement and bounce. They only got as far as 121 because Harbhajan climbed into Pune's bowling towards the end of the innings, clubbing an unbeaten 45 off 30 balls and scoring the bulk of the 41 runs Mumbai made in the last three overs.

Till his intervention, they seemed to be struggling to even get to 100. Ishant Sharma, getting the ball to nip around and climb on the batsmen, and Mitchell Marsh, getting late swing away from the right-handers, reduced them to 30 for 4 by the end of the fifth over, and it became 40 for 5 when Rajat Bhatia trapped Kieron Pollard lbw with an offcutter in the eighth over.

Apart from helping the quicker bowlers, the pitch was also offering Bhatia grip, and Mumbai struggled for rhythm against his stump-to-stump mix of cutters and slower balls. He finished with figures of 1 for 10 from four overs. Shreyas Gopal, who made 2 off 16 balls, faced nine balls from Bhatia and failed to score off any of them.

Gopal's stay at the wicket came to an end when he holed out to long-off off the bowling of M Ashwin, the debutant legspinner. Nerves were evident in the number of short balls M Ashwin sent down - they gripped and turned too much for the Mumbai batsmen to do very much with them - but he also bowled a couple of ripping googlies that hinted at the potential Supergiants must have seen in him to shell out INR 4.5 crore for his services.

His more famous namesake R Ashwin, meanwhile, only bowled the one over, continuing a puzzling trend of being under-utilised by MS Dhoni. He struck with his first ball - just as Ishant, Marsh and Bhatia had also done - but that first ball came after a 15-over wait. Dhoni declined to use him after that, entrusting the final overs to RP Singh and Ishant. Though Harbhajan took heavy toll of those overs, Mumbai had made far too little before that for his runs to make too much of a difference.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • san on April 11, 2016, 19:23 GMT

    Dhoni's appreciation of Rahane is same as Gavaskar's commentary about winning runs... as if someone is holding their neck or something.

  • san on April 11, 2016, 19:22 GMT

    Top TWO things on Dhoni's priority: 1. Not play Irfan at all 2. Play Rahane and hope that he fails - so that he can banish him from international T-20.

    Glad to see Rahane score off Dhoni's favourite pals.

  • john on April 11, 2016, 7:58 GMT

    @BIG-DOG : Mitchell Marsh is being paid $716,000 USD to play for eight weeks of T20 cricket as an all rounder and maybe that is a good motivator, to take lots of wickets and score lots of runs otherwise he will find he is excess to requirements at Rising Pune Supergiants, if he didn't take the wickets as their are plenty of international cricketers wanting to play for that kind of money for eight weeks work.

  • john on April 11, 2016, 7:45 GMT

    @VIMALAN RAVINDRAN: Rahane finds it easy to play IPL because the opening partners he plays with Faf du Plessis is 5'10 and weight 14 stones plus, also in this match Lendl Simmons is 5'11 and over 14 stones easy. When Rahane plays T 20 International cricket for India there is Shikhar Dhawan about 5'8 and 12 stones but a very poor T20 batsmen and Rohit Sharma about 5'6 to 5.'7 max and not more then 11 or 12 stones. India need to find big intimidating openers like Arron Finch whom can score sixes easily, someone like Faf du Plessis can easily hit sixes every 12 balls in a T20 match. Rahane is 5'5 and barely 10 stones yet having a big guy like du Plessis at the other end gives him more confidence then say a Rohit Sharma would as with a guy like Rohit whom gets out easily he is then left to build the Indian innings with Virat Kohli at the other end.

  • Rodney on April 11, 2016, 6:48 GMT

    Wrong selection from MI . select Anderson for meclagan and natu singh for vinay kumar . we can try partiv to open with simmon and rohit to come one down drop rayddu he has past his expiry date.

  • Channan on April 10, 2016, 18:29 GMT

    The leg spin of M. Ashwin stands out. However, he needs a lot of help, too many short balls. What else?

  •   Vimalan Ravindran on April 10, 2016, 16:56 GMT

    i really dont understand the strategy of Rahanae, how it is possible for him to play at this strike rate in IPL alone, when it to comes to international 50 over or 20 over match, he is not replicating it there, does it mean IPL is not having the quality bowlers or is he playing for the money he was paid to play for IPL and not the same when he was representing for India, shameless guys not playing for our country when it is really required.

  • Lin on April 10, 2016, 13:46 GMT

    So this match once again proves how lucky captain dhoni is, this match was given to him on a platter by MI. But that is not the point, see that the moment players join his team suddenly get in to form, marsh struggled with bowling for the past several months but takes couple of wickets in no time, Ishant sharma was not playing shorter versions now for long time but he gets wicket very first ball, KP hardly shining that much suddenly finds form, Bumrah who tortured batsmen for the past few months suddenly cannot get a single wicket, pandya who can do so many things when dhoni is captain now totally ineffective, Buttler is living in india for the past several weeks, was in good form for the world cup but suddenly looks useless with both bat and wicketkeeping, pune team bowlers get wickets at their will and wish but MI have to struggle, their fielders squander chances, rohit sharma knows the pitch but when choses to bat it becomes bowler friendly - all these show just dhoni's luck

  • michael on April 10, 2016, 12:34 GMT

    Buttler is at best a back up keeper and in T20 a missed opportunity can hurt as seen yesterday. Pollard looked out of sorts as he returns from injury and would need a couple of games to get his eye back in (just as before). 2 or 3 of the top 7 should make runs and that did not happen for MI. Their bowling looked weak and defence of the title looks very shaky even at this early stage..

  • binu on April 10, 2016, 9:40 GMT

    Injustice to Irfan Pathan! He was counting days to play in the IPL and he will be any day better than RP Singh and M Aswin.Another unlucky player is Sourav Thiwari.I thought he will get chance to play with DD , then Pune bought him.

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