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IPL 2016 : Rahane guides Supergiants to a nine-wicket victory in the tournament opener

Rahane guides Supergiants to a nine-wicket victory in the tournament opener : The ninth edition of the prestigious Indian domestic tournament Indian Premier League 2016 got underway at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

One of the two new franchisees, Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS), took on the defending champions, Mumbai Indians (MI).

With Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the helm of affairs in RPS, a lot of fireworks, innovative thinking etc were always on the anvil.

Choosing to bat, the defending champions, MI, were never at ease, facing the bowling attack of RPS, spearheaded by the pacers, RP Singh (3-0-30-1), Ishant Sharma (4-0-36-2) and Mitchell Marsh (4-0-21-2).

All-rounder Rajat Bhatia was the most economical one giving away only 10 runs in his 4 over spell, picking up the wicket of Keiron Pollard in the bargain.

The off-spin / leg-spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Murugan Ashwin (making his IPL debut) also came to the party, picking up a wicket each. While the leggie Ashwin bowled his full quota of 4 overs, giving away 16 runs, the offie Ashwin bowled just 1 over, giving way 7 runs.

Only Ambatti Rayudu (22) and Harbhajan Singh (45) could make meaningful contribution with the bat and MI could manage to score only 121 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in 20 overs.

Ajinkya Rahane dispelled all doubts that Dhoni has been carrying about him (Rahane) being a slow scorer in this format of the game.

Opening the innings alongwith Faf du Plessis (34), the young Mumbaikar, went on to plunder an unbeaten 66 runs off just 43 deliveries with the aid of 7 fours and 3 sixes, registering a mammoth 157.14 strike rate.

The duo added 78 runs for the first wicket in 9.4 fours.

Thereafter, partnering Kevin Pietersen (21), Rahane ensured that there were no further hiccups and went on to win the game by 9 wickets. RPS scored 126 runs for the loss of 1 wicket in 14.4 overs.

Mumbai skipper, Rohit Sharma, tried as many as six bowlers and all of them ended up with an economy rate over 6.00, while Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya went for 10 and 18 an over respectively.

RPS won the game quite comfortably and Rahane was adjudged the Player of the Match.

At the post match presentation, Rahane said, “I felt it was important to time the ball, When we were bowling, the ball was stopping and seaming a bit. It was important to take my time and finish the game. Track was two-paced, different to Wankhede wicket. It was holding and for the first six overs, it was doing a lot. Its been very good, couple of practice sessions. All world class players. All are match-winners, KP, Smith, Dhoni, and we are trying to learn many things from them”.

Rohit Sharma, MI skipper, disappointed at the defeat, said, “The pitch looked okay, we didn”t bat well. One twenty one wasn”t enough. Lot to learn from this game, hopefully we go back and think about it. We didn”t think the ball was going to do that much. I thought they swung the ball early on and our shot selection wasn”t that great it cost us the game. We go to Calcutta from here, we”ve had some good memories there, we won two titles there. Just the start of the tournament, not to panic.”

Giving credit to the bowlers and to Rahane, an enchanted Dhoni, skipper of RPS said, “I dont think we could have had a better start than this, A lot of credit to the bowlers. Specially Rajat. He bowled in that uncomfortable area, once they lost a lot of early wickets. The opposition also went hard, and on a wicket where the fast bowlers had assistance, there were chances. There was a lot of pressure on their lower order, the bowlers did a fantastic job. We should improve in the death overs. When you dont have too many runs on the board, the batsman have an easier job. Always felt Rahane is brilliant where the ball comes on off the wickets. He is traditional and the way he finished it off was very good. This gives us an opportunity to give us some time to interact together, its a fun-loving bunch, the support staff have also put in a lot of effort”.