Rahul Tripathi wasn't part of the Inter-State and Inter-Zonal T20s this season. He wasn't picked for Mahararashtra's first four matches in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. He bats in the middle order for his state and is known more for his stickability than ball-striking ability in the Indian domestic circles. He was only picked in the last round of the auction by Rising Pune Supergiant.
Tripathi was left out of Rising Pune's first two matches of the season, and made his debut in the third, making 10 off five balls at No. 4 in a 97-run loss to Delhi Daredevils. In the side's next game, he was bumped up to open alongside Ajinkya Rahane. The promotion seems to have unlocked the power-hitter in him. Cue in seven thirty-plus scores in eight innings, including two fifties at a strike-rate of 154.05. Five of those scores have contributed to wins for Rising Pune.
His 93 off 52 balls, of which 78 came through boundaries, simply floored Kolkata Knight Riders at their home ground. To put things in perspective, the next best score in Rising Pune's chase of 156 was 14. Tripathi relished pace on the ball and was particularly severe on Nathan Coulter-Nile, tonking him for 32 runs off just 13 balls at a strike-rate of 246.15. Tripathi's assault meant Pune soared to their highest score in the Powerplay - 74. Tripathi was prolific against spin as well, hitting 41 off 22 balls from Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav, and, just like that, he turned a potentially tricky chase into a cruise.
The wow moment
His innings wasn't just about muscular thumping. In the eighth over, Tripathi was aware that there was no fine leg and made up his mind to exploit this. Even before Narine delivered the ball, Tripathi jumped a fair way across off stump, but the offspinner shortened his length and sent down a 102kph dart. Tripathi still got his head over the ball and deftly scooped it away to the unmanned boundary.
Stats that matter
Tripathi is now the top scorer in the Powerplays this season, surpassing David Warner's 238 off 160 balls. Tripathi has 251 off 144
His 23-ball fifty is the quickest by a Rising Pune batsman in the IPL
What they said
"Tripathi! Hasn't he been a revelation for us? He took on the bowlers and it was unfortunate he didn't get a hundred. He really deserved it."
Rising Pune Supergiant captain Steven Smith
"I'm just trying to middle the ball, this [the crowd] is all new for me, so I'm just trying to concentrate on what I can do. Watch the ball, hit the ball is my way."
"Rahul Tripathi is the find of the season & this despite some really good performances frm Nitish Rana & Rashid. Amazing self belief."
Mohammad Kaif, on Twitter