Team effort has seen Rising Pune Supergiant make it to the playoffs of 2017 IPL and they will once again bank on collective effort when they face Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. (IPL FULL COVERAGE)
Here’s a look at their strengths and weaknesses.
Rising Pune Supergiant have strong batsmen in the middle-order. Skipper Steve Smith, MS Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary, at different points this season, have made significant contributions to see RPS through in difficult situations. Against Mumbai Indians, the onus will be on three of them to set the path for the rest of the team.
From injuries to player departures, they have had to grapple with many issues off the field but they haven’t let that affect their on-field performances. The reason for that has been the presence of experienced heads in their playing XI. While Smith has done well at the helm, he has received good support from former skipper MS Dhoni. The likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Tiwary have played a crucial role in guiding the youngsters.
Indian young guns firing
From Rahul Tripathi’s rollicking knocks to Jaydev Unadkat’s mesmerising spells, the performance of Indian youngsters is one of the main reasons for their strong showing. Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar have also chipped in. All four weren’t in the starting XI when Pune started their campaign but were given opportunities in later matches and have never looked back.
For a player of his calibre, Ajinkya Rahane has just one half century to his name this season. While the opening batsman has got starts, he hasn’t been able to convert them into big ones, playing loose shot to give away his wicket. Coach Stephen Fleming had said during one of the interactions that Rahane is ‘too eager’ to get on with things. Against Mumbai, RPS will hope that Rahane, along with opening partner Tripathi, create a platform for batsmen to follow.
Lack of quality all-rounder
The departure of Ben Stokes has weakened them in the all-rounder’s department. While Dan Christian has done well in both departments with the opportunities he has got, the Australian isn’t in the same league as the Englishman. With RPS not having any like-for-like replacement for Stokes, the pressure will be on Christian to deliver.
Under-strength bowling unit
The departures of Stokes and Imran Tahir, two of their top-three wicket-takers, has put them on the backfoot. Along with Jaydev Unadkat, who is second on the list of top wicket-takers with 21 scalps, Tahir and Stokes played crucial roles in RPS’ charge towards the playoffs. While young guns Thakur and Sundar have done well, it remains to be seen how they tackle the pressure of such a big game.