Voice of Sport

‘Magical Kenya’ team reaches Final in India; superstar MS Dhoni vaults Rising Pune Supergiant

Not the most fancied team in the absence of England super star Ben Stokes who had inspired them into the knock-out stage but Rising Pune Supergiant’s less celebrated bowlers came on top after Pune had set the star-studded Mumbai Indians a small total to chase

Wow moment: Steven Smith lets it all out after taking a low catch to account for Kieron Pollard during the Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, ‘Qualifier I’ match in Mumbai on Tuesday. He later said: ‘Big game, big players stepped up. I thought MS was magnificent in the end’

2017 Indian Premier League cricket:

Rising Pune Supergiant 162 for 4 (Tiwary 58, Rahane 56, Dhoni 40*) beat

Mumbai Indians 142 for 9 (Parthiv 52, Sundar 3-16, Thakur 3-37) by 20 runs

Stats that matter:

  • Rising Pune made 41 runs in the last two overs against Mumbai Indians. Dhoni’s contribution was 26, with four sixes
  • Dhoni has hit 191 of his 280 runs in the IPL against pace bowling at a strike-rate of 146. Against Mumbai, he struck them at 182.

RISING Pune Supergiant, the team that carries the banner of Kenya Tourism Board’s ‘Magical Kenya’ promotion theme, was sensational in Mumbai on Tuesday, reaching the Final of the Indian Premier League cricket for the first time.

The Supergiant’s feat was even more impressive as they were without the inspirational England all-rounder Ben Stokes who had returned home after getting the team into [semi-finals] Qualifier I with a thrilling win on Sunday against Kings XI Punjab in Pune on Sunday.

But the Supergiant still had men leaders in Indian icon MS Dhoni and their captain Steven Smith, the Australian.

MS Dhoni smacks the ball for a six, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

MS Dhoni smacks the ball for a six, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

On Wednesday, there will be an “Eliminator” between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore.

Mumbai Indians will have a second shot at making the final by playing in Qualifier II [on Friday in Bangalore] between them and winners of the “Eliminator”. The Final on Sunday is at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad: Rising Pune Supergiant v AN OTHER.

Rahul Tripathi was cleaned up by an inswinging ball from Mitchell McClenaghan, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

Rahul Tripathi was cleaned up by an inswinging ball from Mitchell McClenaghan, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

Kenya, once a proud cricketing nation that knocked on the door of Test status was a leading team in the ODI [One Day International] circuit and audaciously reached the semi-finals of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, believe there is benefit being involved in the popular Indian Premier League (IPL), the most attended cricket league in the world, to market the East African country’s tourism.

The Tourism Board allocated about Sh25 million for the destination marketing and promotional campaigns in partnership with Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS). Kenya is banking on the ongoing cricket season in India to market her tourism products and create interest for travel into the country among the Indians. The Supergiant players carry on the thigh of their playing trousers the badge of the rallying call of Kenya tourism “Magical Kenya”.

Manoj Tiwary holds his shot after lofting the ball for a six, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

Manoj Tiwary holds his shot after lofting the ball for a six, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

The Tourism Board hopes to benefit from IPL’s global broadcast in over 15 countries and improve numbers of incoming visitors from India one of Kenya’s biggest sources of tourism. The country hopes to benefit from IPL’s global broadcast in over 15 countries in the league series that began in April and will run towards the end of May 21 2017.

India is currently Kenya’s third largest tourist source market with KTB optimistic that engagement with cricket will help in propelling India to achieve number one status in arrivals, next few years. The arrival figures from India to Kenya for the close of the year 2016 posted 64,116 visitors up from 49,756 in 2015, indicating a growth of 28.9%.

Parthiv Patel clips the ball off his pads for a maximum, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

Parthiv Patel clips the ball off his pads for a maximum, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

canada goose On Tuesday, after being asked to bat on a favourable chasing ground, Rising Pune Supergiant lost a majority of the first innings. But it was an atypically slow surface at the Wankhede Stadium and the Supergiant utilised those conditions significantly better than Mumbai Indians to clear their path to the IPL final.

The Supergiant defended 162 comfortably in the end, by 20 runs, for their third win over Mumbai this season. Mumbai, despite having squandered the shootout for the final in front of a packed home crowd, will have a second chance in Bengaluru in the second qualifier on Friday.

Steven Smith (right) took two catches off Washington Sundar's bowling, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

Steven Smith (right) took two catches off Washington Sundar’s bowling, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

At the forefront of a sublime bowling performance by the Supergiant was Washington Sundar. His fuller-than-good length and straight lines meant batsmen were not able to attack any side of the wicket with any conviction. His quick speed didn’t let them get under deliveries either. The 17-year old finished with 3 for 16 from four overs and the Man-of-the-Match award.

The harder task on the night, though, was with the bat. Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane struck patient fifties, setting a platform for MS Dhoni to use his wiles and hitting prowess at the end to help Rising Pune finish with a decent score and sufficient momentum.

The Mumbai Indians camp looks on as Daniel Christian prepares to complete a catch, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

The Mumbai Indians camp looks on as Daniel Christian prepares to complete a catch, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

In Mumbai’s last league game at Wankhede Stadium, Kings XI Punjab defended a total of 230 by just seven runs. Even with the possibility of dew and the short boundaries, Rising Pune may not have been aiming that high after losing the toss, but they knew they needed to get close.

Planning, check. Execution, a big red cross. Rahul Tripathi fell over a flick and was bowled. Steven Smith’s leading edge was snaffled up at backward point. Rising Pune were 9 for 2 in two overs. The surface may have been slow, and Mumbai’s variations were effective, but after that start, a score of close to 170 was the best Rising Pune could hope for, which meant Mumbai were never out of the game.

MS Dhoni (left) and Rohit Sharma share a moment after the end of the qualifier, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

MS Dhoni (left) and Rohit Sharma share a moment after the end of the qualifier, Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, Qualifier 1, IPL, Mumbai, May 16

Rising Pune had laboured 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 to Dhoni and Tiwary. Dhoni’s strike rate in his first 10 balls in the IPL, before this game, was 88.52. Against Mumbai, he could only muster 14 off his first 17 balls.

But then Mitchell McClenaghan, not for the first time this season, missed his “Yorker”. A high full toss was hit for four; the resultant free hit went for six over long-on. Dhoni anticipated McClenaghan good or short length in the second half of that over, sat back and hit two sixes.

Terrifying

For nearly 15 overs of the Supergiant innings, the run-rate was going nowhere. Then Dhoni changed everything in the space of 12 balls.

Mumbai is a terrifying place to bat first – the boundaries are cruelly small and the prospect of dew later in the night is almost haunting. So imagine being in Pune’s dugout. They went slower than a-run-a-ball in the “Power play” and the run-rate had just about nudged past six when the final five overs began.

Finished

But there was a man in the middle who normally doesn’t let his shoulders drop when picturing the worst case scenario. He winds them up instead and just goes bang. MS Dhoni was on 14 of 17 before the final 12 balls of the innings. He finished 40 not out off 26.

The acceleration didn’t seem like it would ever come, because Mumbai Indians’ bowlers had a splendid plan. The spinners bowled flat and quick to cramp Dhoni. The quicks hit the deck hard and denied him any swinging room. But the thing with gun players is that one shot, one properly timed monster of a shot, can spook the opposition.

Wides

It came in the 18th over when Dhoni, camped deep in his crease, cleared his front leg and launched Mitchell McClenaghan for a six over midwicket. The next two deliveries – meant to be slow, short and outside the reach of the batsman – became wides. So McClenaghan corrected his line and found Dhoni waiting for it. The ball disappeared over long-on. The finisher was in.

2017 Indian Premier League: Standings

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied N/R Pts Net RR For Against
*1 Mumbai Indians 14 10 4 0 0 20 +0.784 2407/272.1 2242/278.1
*2 Rising Pune Supergiant 14 9 5 0 0 18 +0.176 2180/271.0 2165/275.1
*3 Sunrisers Hyderabad 14 8 5 0 1 17 +0.599 2221/252.0 2118/257.5
*4 Kolkata Knight Riders 14 8 6 0 0 16 +0.641 2329/260.5 2300/277.3
5 Kings XI Punjab 14 7 7 0 0 14 -0.009 2207/261.2 2229/263.4
6 Delhi Daredevils 14 6 8 0 0 12 -0.512 2219/276.2 2255/264.0
7 Gujarat Lions 14 4 10 0 0 8 -0.412 2406/269.5 2472/265.0
8 Royal Challengers Bangalore 14 3 10 0 1 7 -1.299 1845/260.0 2033/242.1

*Qualifiers

Rising Pune Supergiant players walk out to the fieldduring the Supergiant v Kings XI Punjab, IPL match in Pune on Sunday

Rising Pune Supergiant players walk out to the field during the Supergiant v Kings XI Punjab, IPL match in Pune on Sunday

SQUAD (Rising Pune Supergiant):

BATSMEN:

1 Ajinkya RAHANE (India), 28, Right-hand bat, Right-arm medium bowl, salary $1.2m

13 Faf du PLESSIS (South Africa), 32, Right-hand bat, Right-arm leg break bowl, $730,000

22 Mayank AGARWAL (India), 26, Right-hand bat, Right-arm leg break, $250,000

45 Manoj TIWARY (India), 31, Right-hand, Right-arm leg break, $77,000

49 Steve SMITH (Australia), 27, Right-hand, Right-arm leg break, $620,000

100 Usman KHAWAJA (Australia), 30, Left-hand, Right-arm medium pace, $150, 000

ALL-ROUNDERS:

5 Baba APARAJITH (India), 22, Right-hand, Right-arm off break, $15,000m

18 Ankit SHARMA (India), 26, Left-hand, Slow-left arm orthodox, $15,000

25 Mitchell MARSH (Australia), 25, Right-hand, Right-arm medium fast, $740,000

29 Rajat BHATIA (India), 37, Right-hand, Right-hand medium, $93,000

52 Rahul TRIPATHI (India), 26, Right-hand, Right-arm medium, $15,000

54 Daniel CHRISTIAN (Australia), 33, Right-hand, Right-arm medium fast, $150,000

55 Ben STOKES (England), 25, Left-hand, Right-arm fast-medium, $2.2m

555 Washington SUNDAR (India), 17, Left-hand, Right-arm off break, (Replacement signing)

WICKET-KEEPERS:

7 MS DHONI (India), 35, Right-hand, Right-arm medium, $1.9m

27 Ankush BAINS (India), 21, Right-hand, $15,000

Milind TANDON (India), 23, Right-hand, $15,000

BOWLERS:

1 Rahul CHAHAR (India), Right-hand, Right-arm leg break googly, $15,000

9 Deepak CHAHAR (India), 24, Right-hand, Right-arm medium fast, $15,000

10 Shardul THAKUR (India), 25, Right-hand, Right-arm medium fast, $31,000

11 Ashok DINDA (India), 33, Right-hand, Right-arm medium fast, $77,000

canada goose 63 Adam ZAMPA (Australia), 25, Right-hand, Right-arm leg break googly, $46,000

canada goose 69 Lockie FERGUSON (Australia), 25, Right-hand, Right-arm fast, $77,000

77 Jaydev UNADKAT (India), 25, Right-hand, Left-arm medium fast, $46,000

99 Ravichandram ASHWIN (India), 30, Right-hand, Right-arm leg break googly, $1.2m

999 Imran TAHIR (South Africa), 38, Right-hand, Right-arm leg break googly, (Replacement signing)

Ishwar PANDEY (India), 27, Right-hand, Right-arm medium fast, $31,000

Jaskaran SINGH (India), 25, Left-hand, Left-arm medium fast, $15,000

Saurabh KUMAR (India), 23, Left-hand, Slow left-arm orthodox, $15,000

– Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies