New Delhi: A ravishing second half of the 10th season of Indian Premier League saw Rising Pune Supergiant rise from down under and give a tough fight for a top-half finish. Looking to seal their play-offs berth, the Pune-based franchise travel to the capital city to take on already ousted Delhi Daredevils at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
Things looked much the same for Steve Smith's men when they started off this year's edition. Losing three out of their initial four matches, RPS were languishing in the same rut as they did so in the previous season. But probably few inspirational words and a determined team effort helped Pune erase their past mistakes and win seven off their next eight matches to climb to the third position.
They are now just a win away to confirm their ticket to the next round.
In contrast, nothing much is left to say about the Daredevils. A hard fought effort by Zaheer Khan's young army fell short of rising at important occasions. Although, this is one team that has chased a near 200 target on three occasions successfully, but luck didn't seem to be on their side. Regardless of all, Zaheer wants to finish off the season on a high note.
Here are the players to watch out for...
The young trio: It's worth noticing how Delhi Daredevils' young trio of Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer have worked so far. Sanju hit the season's first centurion, and thereafter got promoted as the opener. And since then, he has proved quite efficient in his job.
He has found an ally in Pant, who made his way to the pitch to fire things up rapidly. Both have been phenomenal, especially in the must-win game against Gujarat Lions at home, where the duo powered through to chase down a massive 209 target.
Then comes Shreays Iyer. The 22-year-old was till recently getting his 20s and 30s, and finally scored a scintillating 96, to once again set up a win against the Lions in their return-leg match.
RPS should surely have a plan to restrict this young brigade, to keep alive their contention for play-offs spot.
Pat Cummins: He was excellent during the Border-Gavaskar series last February. It was expected that he would continue his form and he did. During Delhi's initial matches, the all-rounder toppled down a couple of wickets to help his team win few games. Then things went slow. But he did rise to the occasion in their previous game, with both bat and ball, to help Delhi win a consolation game.
Rising Pune Supergiant
Jaydev Unadkat: He has been lucky since the start of the season. Getting picked at the auction doesn't mean that a player will be in the playing XI for sure. That's what happened with the pacer from Porbandar. Early in the season, he was considered a surplus; but once Ashok Dinda became a liability, Unadkat was brought in. And it proved a masterstroke for everyone.
The 25-year-old pacer has contributed heavily in Pune's seven wins in the last eight matches. Getting early wickets and then controlling the play in the death overs, he has proved to a trump card for Smith. He finally took that hat-trick in their last game, showing his class.
Rahul Tripathi: Another revelation for the Pune-based franchise has been Rahul Tripathi. No one knew him when he stepped into the practice session on the first day of their campaign, but his bat talked and skipper Smith heard it loud. Yes, it was Smith who put him up as their opener. He timed each of his strokes, scoring boundaries at regular intervals and getting consistent knocks to give his side the initial momentum.