‘Steve Smith has infused win-or-nothing attitude in Rising Pune Supergiant’
Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) owner Sanjiv Goenka praised skipper Steve Smith for getting the team to gel together in the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaignipl 2017 Updated: May 20, 2017 10:34 IST
MS Dhoni has had an iffy IPL 2017 campaign, but Rising Pune Super Giant (RPSG) owner Sanjiv Goenka sets a lot in store by what goes on in the former India captain’s mind. “MS is one of the greatest minds I have interacted with. And he is the best wicket-keeper in the world,” Goenka told HT in Kolkata on Friday.
Given that MS Dhoni was removed as skipper, the remarks seemed as unexpected as the slower ball surprises RPSG’s Dan Christian and Jaydev Unadkat have produced to such telling effect in IPL 10. After all, Goenka’s brother Harsh’s posts on Twitter created more stir than the man who would take off like a helicopter and till recently was Captain Cool.
Goenka followed up the comment about Dhoni’s cerebral faculties with one more in sync with a team that has won nine out of its last 11 games and are in Sunday’s final of IPL 2017 here. He said Steve Smith has been instrumental to RPSG’s success this term.
“My brief to Smith was: win the championship. It’s difficult to believe the way he has planned some dismissals, the tact and the firmness with which he has dealt with tricky situations and the win-or-nothing attitude he has been able to infuse in the team, get them to gel as a unit.
And he’s gone out in the strategic timeouts to tell batsmen to either score 30 off the next 12 balls or get out. If we had a bad start, it was because Smith was out with food poisoning,” said Goenka.
“You need to win eight-nine games to make the play-offs and Smith told me that between him, (Imran) Tahir and (Ben) Stokes, we would win seven. And players of the calibre of MS will always give you something. We had more matchwinners this time, players who would need five-six balls to settle down instead of 20. And we hadn’t factored in Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat. I think Tripathi and Sundar are going to be serious players on the Indian cricket scene,” he said.
Change in approach
The journey from near bottom to finalists took some radical changes in approach. “The first season was a disaster and I wanted it to end soonest, with our dignity intact,” said Goenka.
From last season, RPSG changed 11 players. “The team got younger, fitter and more energetic. So, we have fielded better. This time, with whom players’ loyalties lay didn’t matter.”
Goenka said it took him one year to learn how to control the ‘fragile egos’ of his superstars. “We didn’t want to be like a franchise that doesn’t invest its Rs 66 crore purse and is happy finishing fifth but last year, I didn’t know better. Also, with the World T20 around, we didn’t have time.”
Two days before he stops being an IPL owner, Goenka doesn’t know about the future but said dealing with great minds and building relationships have been important takeaways. The RPSG and football franchise Atletico de Kolkata owner said he is feeling somewhat ‘paternalistic’ towards players such as Smith, Tripathi and Unadkat among others. “You want them to do well because they are such lovely people,” he said.