New Delhi: Debutants Rising Pune Supergiants started their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on a rousing note with a comfortable nine-wicket win against the reigning champions Mumbai Indians in Mumbai on Saturday.
Ajinkya Rahane, man of the match, made a brilliant unbeaten 66 off 42 balls, after skipper MS Dhoni marshaled his resources brilliantly in the first innings to restrict a batting heavy Mumbai Indians team for 121 runs.
In a clinical display, the new team reached the 122-run target with 32 balls to spare.
After days of confusion surrounding the very likelihood of an IPL 2016 match happening in drought-hit Maharashtra, both the teams were welcomed to a packed capacity crowd at the historic Wankhede Stadium.
After winning the toss, Mumbai Indians could have posted a bigger total, but the Wankhede pitch behaving uncharacteristically and batsmen playing expansive shots, it was a sad outing with the bat for the Rohit Sharma's team.
Harbhajan Singh played an unbeaten cameo of 45 runs off 30 balls to help the total some respectability. And besides, Ambati Rayudu's 22 off 27, not a single batsman came to the party for the hosts.
Mumbai's new recruit and England hope Jos Buttler (0 off 2b)and the West Indies' ICC World Twenty20 hero Lendl Simmons (8 off 8b) failed against a disciplined Pune bowling attack. Another West Indian big hitter, Kieron Pollard who missed the World Cup weeks ago due to injury also failed in his comeback match making only a single off eight balls.
Skipper Sharma (7 off 5b) looked comfortable, but his stay was too brief to give the team a steady start or platform.
In contrast, Rising Pune Supergiants started the chase in a rollicking style with a 78-run opening stand between Rahane inside 10 overs. Then, Kevin Pietersen joined the fun, playing a quick-fire knock of 21 runs from 14 balls. Before him, South African captain Faf du Plessis scored 34 off 33 balls.
For Mumbai, Harbhajan was the only successful bowler.
India's recent finds, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah failed to impress. Pandya who was promoted to no. 3 for Mumbai, could only score nine runs off 11 balls, then with the ball, well, four balls and 12 runs.
Bumrah started well with the ball, and was unlucky at times. But he too failed, conceding 30 runs from his spell of three overs.
One interesting fact that emerged from the match is Dhoni, for the second successive match, ignored Ravichandran Ashwin (1/7 in one over). The India spinner was given only one over, while his namesake Murugan Ashwin completed a quota of four overs.
Murugan's figures read an impressive 4-016-1 for a debutant bowler. Pace bowlers Rudra Pratap Singh (1/30 in three overs) and Ishant Sharma (2/36 in three overs) bowled within their limits, but it was Aussie Mitchell Marsh (2/21 in four overs) and Indian Rajat Bhatia (1/10 in four overs) who controlled the middle overs in Mumbai innings.
The second match of the ninth edition of the world's premier Twenty20 league will be played between former two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders and perennial under-performers Delhi Daredevils, which have roped in India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid as their mentor for this season.
The match will be held at Kolkata's Eden Gardens on Sunday, where West Indies recently won the World T20 title for the second time, after defeating England in the final.
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