A 73-run stand for the fourth wicket between MS Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary eventually made the difference and helped push Pune through to their first final in the Indian Twenty20 competition, comfortably overhauling Mumbai by 20 runs in the qualifier at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Tuesday.
Pune struggled for fluency throughout their innings, and the slow-paced Mumbai pitch was part of the cause. The hosts' seamers struck early and dismissed an in form Rahul Tripathi and Steven Smith in the first two overs. Pune, already without their mainstay Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir - both out on international duty - looked to Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary for stability. The duo scored at 7.38 in the 10.5 overs they batted together and their 80-run stand set the platform for a late onslaught. Rahane's departure in the 12th over brought Dhoni to the fore.
He and Tiwary struggled to push the tempo as Pune limped to 121 for 3 after 18 overs. The five overs prior to that yielded just 32 without a wicket as Mumbai's bowlers found the right length. In the 19th over, Mitchell McClenaghan, aiming for a yorker produced a beamer that Tiwary dispatched to the fence. Tiwary then lofted the next ball - on length - for a six. Dhoni - with only 14 off 18 balls at that stage - eventually cut loose and clubbed McClenaghan for two sixes in the same over. He repeated the dose against Jasprit Bumrah in the final over. The late onslaught pushed Pune to a respectable 162. Tiwary and Dhoni scored at 9.95 runs in the 7.2 overs that they batted together. Tiwary fell in the 20th over for a 48-ball 58, while Dhoni remained unbeaten on a 26-ball 40.