IPL 2017: Smith, Rahane propel Pune to victory over Mumbai
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Rising Pune Supergiants rode on superb batting by captain Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane to defeat Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in the second game of the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday. Chasing a target of 185, Pune crossed the line with just one ball to spare. The hosts had started their chase on a strong note, scoring at more than 10 runs an over in the initial stages before Mayank Agarwal was dismissed by Mitchell McClenaghan. Smith then joined Rahane in the middle and the duo added 58 runs in the space of seven overs to lay the foundation of a successful run chase. Rahane scored 60 runs off 34 balls with six boundaries and three hits into the stands. He was finally dismissed when Nitish Rana pulled off an excellent catch at deep square leg off the bowling of Tim Southee.
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Smith, however, continued in the same vein and remained unbeaten on 84 runs off a mere 54 deliveries. His innings included seven boundaries and three sixes. Fittingly, it was he only who brought up the winning runs with two consecutive sixes off Kieron Pollard in the final over. For Mumbai, Southee, Hardik Pandya and McClenaghan bagged a wicket each. Earlier, Pandya's last-over heroics helped Mumbai recover from a mediocre position to post a healthy 184/8. Bengal medium pacer Ashoke Dinda was the culprit for the home side conceding 30 runs in the final over when Pandya (35 not out) hammered the right-armer for four sixes (including three consecutive) and a four to change the course of the game. Earlier, South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who went unsold in the auctions and was a late addition to the Pune squad, brought the hosts back into the game with three quick wickets after the Mumbai opening duo of Jos Buttler (38) and Parthiv Patel (19) added 45 runs for the opening wicket.
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Introduced in the fifth over, Tahir struck in his second ball when he bowled Patel round his legs before packing Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma (3) and Buttler in his next over to reduce Mumbai to 62/3. Sharma, who has been out of action for almost five months, was slow on his feet and it was enough for Tahir to break through his defence. One ball later, Tahir trapped the dangerous Buttler in front although television replays later showed that the Englishman had got a thick inside edge. Before his dismissal, Buttler lived up to his billing, milking his English teammate and IPL-10's costliest buy Ben Stokes (Rs 14.5 crore) for two consecutive sixes and then dispatching rookie Rajasthan medium-pacer Deepak Chahar for a four and a six off back-to-back deliveries. His 19-ball knock was laced with three hits to the fence and as many maximums. After the strategic time-out, Pune skipper Smith introduced veteran all-rounder Rajat Bhatia, who responded well by taking a simple return catch to pack Ambati Rayudu (10) before dismissing Krunal Pandya (3) cheaply.
Australian leggie Adam Zampa then added to the misery for the visitors by picking the crucial wicket of Rana (34), comfortably caught by Bhatia at deep midwicket. Rana looked good for his 28-ball knock, consisting a four and two sixes, but it was the 30-run fourth-wicket stand with Rayudu and 18 runs with Pollard (27) that mattered more. Pollard, who was dropped by M.S. Dhoni on 22, struggled to get the big shots before falling to a stunning running catch by Mayank Agarwal at the long-on boundary off Stokes.
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The West Indian struck three boundaries and a six in his 17-ball innings as he added 21 runs for the seventh wicket with Pandya. Pandya then added 37 runs for the eighth wicket with New Zealander Southee (7) to put Mumbai in a commanding position.