After an exciting ICC World T20 2016, this was not really the kind of start Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 would have expected. Amidst the Maharashtra drought issue, the tournament started with the clash of two sides of the same state at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai and it was a one-sided contest. Newcomers Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) got off to a winning start against the defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) at their own den. First, the Pune bowlers restricted MI to 121 and from thereon, it was an Ajinkya Rahane show.

Rahane, who has not been a regular starter in the Indian T20I side, showed his worth when he struck an unbeaten 42-ball 66 to guide RPS to a nine-wicket win.

For the first time in IPL history, MS Dhoni played for a side other than Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and leading the new franchise, he lost the toss and was asked to field first. Ishant Sharma got RPS to a perfect start by providing a breakthrough in the form of Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons’s wicket in the second over of the match. The MI slide began and five of their bowlers got a wicket in their first over, with four of them getting a wicket with their first ball. Ishant started well and Mitchell Marsh, Rajat Bhatia, and the young spinner Murugan Ashwin carried on the good work. In fact, Ravichandran Ashwin bowled just one over. In the 16th over, MI were reeling at 68 for 7 and it was Harbhajan Singh who took the side to some respectability with his unbeaten 30-balls 45 run knock. He has been warming the benches for more than two months in the national side and he had a point to prove.

A target of 122 was not going to be enough and RPS openers Rahane and Faf du Plessis as they stitched 78 runs for the first wicket and that too in quick time. MI never recovered and their bowlers lacked the sting. Again, it was Harbhajan, who chipped in with the only wicket.

Turning Point: Mumbai’s star all-rounder Kieron Pollard was caught plumb in front of wicket in the seventh over off the bowling of Marsh. He received a big respite when umpire CK Nandan ruled him ‘not out’. Already four down, MI needed Pollard to come to their rescue and despite the luck favouring him, he soon fell to Rajat Bhatia’s first ball in the following over. Five wickets down in the eighth over against a strong batting line-up like RPS, MI just could not recover enough. Bhatia gave away only 10 runs from his quota of four overs and that hurt MI big.

Designed by Hamid Khan
Designed by Hamid Khan

Brief Scores:

Mumbai Indians 121 for 8 in 20 overs [Harbhajan Singh 45(30)*, Ambati Rayudu 22(27); Ishant Sharma 4-0-36-2, Mitchell Marsh 4-0-21-2, Murugan Ashwin 4-0-16-1, Rajat Bhatia 4-1-10-1] lost to Rising Pune Supergiants 126 for 1 in 14.4 overs [Ajinkya Rahane 66(42)*, Faf du Plessis 34(33), Kevin Pietersen 21(14)*; Harbhajan Singh 3-0-24-1] by 9 wickets.