Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) had a poor start to their first IPL season under the leadership of MS Dhoni but have changed all that around in 2017 after Steven Smith was made the skipper. RPS knocked over Kolkatta Knight Riders in a thrilling encounter at the Eden Gardens and the win will send a message to the likes of the Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers that Hyderabad that RPS may not be putting together massive totals but they are good at maintaining pressure and holding their nerve in tight situations.
RPS has still not clicked as a team as their domestic players have not really delivered. A Rahane looks horribly out of form, R Ashwin has missed the tournament due to injury and MS Dhoni appears to be a cricketer who is slowly riding away into the sunset. R Tripathi played the innings of the match against KKR scoring 93 at a strike rate of 178 to help take his side to the brink of victory.
RPS’s success has come more from its international players as they have chipped in with both bat and ball. Ben Stokes who was bought for over a million dollars has repaid his franchise handsomely with both bat and ball throughout the tournament. Imran Tahir who was not picked during the initial draft has been chosen over A Zampa and he has not let skipper S Smith down.
Smith himself has not had the best IPL till date but he will be happy with the way his side has fought so far. Smith knows that if he can get both the domestic and international players to fire together, RPS will be a serious challenge for any franchise and will be serious contenders for the championship. RPS has now won 6 out of its last 7 games and Smith believes that his side now has the confidence to go all the way.
In a statement, Smith said “The games we’ve won, we’ve taken wickets through the middle overs and put the brakes on the opposition. Had quite a few different guys stand up and get us over the line. Good for us. Hopefully we’re there come finals time.”
Credit must be paid to Smith for the turnaround as he looks to have built a good relationship with MS Dhoni and has also helped to bring RPS up in the points table.