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IPL: Dhoni, Sundar vault Pune into final

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SUMMARY: 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.

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

Rising Pune 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 the second qualifier in Bengaluru on Friday.

MS Dhoni played a blinder in the last two overs

At the forefront of a sublime bowling performance was teenage off-spinner Washington Sundar. His fuller-than-good length and straight lines meant the batsmen were not able to attack either side of the wicket with any conviction. His quick pace 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.

A strong start In Mumbai’s last league game at this venue, 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.

Different pitch, same Dhoni finish

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 and the resulting free-hit went for six over long-on. Dhoni anticipated McClenaghan’s good or short length in the second half of that over, and sat back to hit two sixes.

Jasprit Bumrah hadn’t pitched anything in Dhoni’s half all through the match. But in the final over, he gifted two good length balls that were smashed for sixes as Rising Pune plundered 41 off the last 12 balls. Their score of 162 was below par at this ground, but the momentum and confidence – of having defended a similar score before on this ground earlier this season – was firmly with Rising Pune. (ESPNCricinfo)

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