IPL 2017 May 22, 2017

Young Indian players carve new Pune identity

While Ben Stokes provided the X factor for Rising Pune Supergiant, it was the consistency shown by the likes of Rahul Tripathi and Washington Sundar that lifted them from the lows of 2016
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Hogg: Pune managed themselves impressively after poor start

Where they finished

Runners-up, after finishing second in the league stage.

The good

Rising Pune Supergiant's bowling was consistently good across the various phases of the innings. In the Powerplay, they gave away 7.89 an over and took 28 wickets - the second-best after Mumbai Indians. Their figures in the middle overs - 7.06 and 45 wickets - were the best. And they tied with Sunrisers Hyderabad for the highest number of wickets at the death - 40. In all, they conceded 7.83 an over - the lowest in the season - and topped the wicket charts with 113 scalps. Additionally, the 797 dots they sent down were second only to Mumbai.

A much more well-rounded team performance after a debut season where they finished seventh out of eight teams. In 2016, only Ajinkya Rahane crossed 300 runs; this time, five of their batsmen did so. The same holds true for the bowling. They had a strong core group, with Jaydev Unadkat, Imran Tahir, Ben Stokes, Daniel Christian and Shardul Thakur efficiently splitting wicket-taking duties.

The Indian quartet of Rahul Tripathi, Unadkat, Washington Sundar and Thakur became prominent as the season unfolded. Tripathi was consistently belligerent, striking at over 146, and at one point had seven thirty-plus scores in eight innings. Unadkat's intelligent variations in pace earned him a hat-trick against Sunrisers, and he finished behind only Bhuvneshwar Kumar with 24 wickets. Thakur and Sundar also put in clutch performances; the former in their last league game - a must-win against Kings XI Punjab - and the latter in the first qualifier against Mumbai.

Ben Stokes, the most expensive player at the auction, was Pune's MVP. The England allrounder did it all - 316 runs at a strike rate of 143 including a century, 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.18 and two of best catches in the tournament. Pune also made a smart move by replacing the injured Mitchell Marsh with Tahir. The legspinner was their second-highest wicket-taker with 18 scalps at 20.50. They also reaped the benefits of identifying the right combinations after an early slip in the league stage and possessed sufficient back-up. Stokes and Tahir's departures for national duty did not affect them with young domestic talent stepping up.

Ben Stokes was a true allrounder for Rising Pune Supergiant © BCCI

The bad

The big Indian names. Rahane largely had a forgettable season. He still ended as their third-highest run-scorer but did not show the consistency of seasons past, with two half-centuries in 16 innings. MS Dhoni won them a few matches, including the first qualifier, but his season was strewn with glimpses of his waning hitting prowess. His average of 26.26, despite receiving a fair few chances to bat higher up, was his lowest across IPLs, as was the strike rate of 116.

Rahane's underwhelming season reflected directly in their opening partnerships. Pune managed an average first-wicket stand of 23.87, which was better than only Delhi Daredevils. The scoring rate of 7.34 an over for that wicket was also the worst in the tournament.

Ashok Dinda was among Pune's senior-most Indian pacemen but ended up playing only three matches. That was down to his returns in those games: 119 runs in 10 overs for one wicket.

The missing ingredient

Allrounders. When Pune first formed a team in 2016, they had only Mitchell Marsh as a frontline allrounder. Once he was injured, they struggled to fill the void of a seamer and a big hitter in the middle. This time, they bought Stokes, Daniel Christian and Saurabh Kumar at the auction. While Saurabh did not play a single game, the other two played big roles. But Pune did not have depth to fall back on had an injury befallen one or both. To their credit, however, they coped well with their specialists performing their roles well.

Out of their control

Sports hernia kept R Ashwin out of the season, while Marsh was ruled out having undergone shoulder surgery. Stokes was unavailable for the playoffs, while Tahir returned to national duty before their final two league games.

Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on May 23, 2017, 10:23 GMT

    Fleming proved his coaching skills, wish he will coach CSK from next season..

  • cricfan4874572834 on May 23, 2017, 10:16 GMT

    I totally disagree with stokes being player of the tournament.He had only two major performances,a 3 wicket haul and 103 run. This does not compare to Warner or Buneshwar performances.Stokes had no impact on the eventual outcame of the Tournament.The plarer of the tournament should at least play in the semi final and the final.

  • mahendra1 on May 23, 2017, 8:35 GMT

    Pant and Sanju are not consistent enough to bag the national call, instead veteran M Tiwary's performance was far better.

  • Shiva on May 23, 2017, 8:12 GMT

    My Best Indian T20 dream team: Rahul tripathi, sanju samson, nitish rana, manish pandey(C), krunal pandya, rishab panth(WK), hardikpandya, karn sharma, washington sundar,mohamed siraj, bhuvaneswarkumar,jasprit bumrah. shardulthakur,vijayshankar, s.kaul.

  • rajuramki on May 23, 2017, 2:45 GMT

    People should not go overboard , looking at the performances of young players like Shreyas , Krunal , Pant and Tripathy in the IPL . International cricket is at a different level and these players will fail , if rushed in haste . Karun nair is an example . Similarly , players like Gambhir , Uttappa etc are now good for IPL and Ranji trophy only . The one player who merits selection is Unadkat .

  • Ms.Cricket on May 23, 2017, 0:28 GMT

    But Steve Smith had a brain fade when it mattered most, in the last over in the final and that sums it all.

  • dezzydezdezer on May 22, 2017, 20:38 GMT

    Stokes wasn't just Punes mvp - he was official mvp for the entire tournament.

  • elsmallo on May 22, 2017, 20:09 GMT

    Had Stokes played in the final they would have won. I don't see why training for an ODI series should take preference over playing an actual game of cricket, especially when that game happens to be the final of the IPL. Great game it was, but Pune lacked one international quality performer on the day.

  • Tweaky on May 22, 2017, 17:51 GMT

    Strange analysis, with no mention of Steven Smith and Manoj Tiwary. Change in captaincy, picking Stokes and finding Sundar/Tripathi were probably what helped their cause the most.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on May 22, 2017, 16:12 GMT

    The real reason they made it this far is dropping Ashok Dinda. Once that guy was canned, they benefited with Unadkat and Thakur.

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