MS Dhoni in some serious talks during the game against MI    AFP
MS Dhoni in some serious talks during the game against MI AFP

As the captains of Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Mumbai Indians (MI) went for the toss, it was an unusual scene for the first time in the history of Indian Premier League (IPL). MS Dhoni, the most successful captain in this T20 gala, did not flip the coin. It was Steven Smith who called the shots instead. However, the team management had placed Smith at the helm after this year’s auction, citing their poor performance in the previous season under Dhoni’s leadership. Full Cricket Scorecard, Rising Pune Supergiant vs Mumbai Indians, IPL 10, Match 2

In IPL 2016, Dhoni led RPS in their maiden season with a strong squad at his service. But despite having influential players like Faf du Plessis, Ravichandran Ashwin, Smith, and Adam Zampa, RPS finished at the second last position, managing just 5 victories from 14 games. Coming into the new season, RPS management came out with new strategies, which included replacing Dhoni with Smith. The reason given by the RPS management was that they needed a young leader and were highly disappointed with their performance in the previous season.

In their bid to set things right for them in their second and overall 10th edition of IPL, they purchased England all-rounder Ben Stokes for a hefty amount of INR 14.5 crore. RPS have also made a change in their team name from Rising Pune Supergiants to Rising Pune Supergiant, making it singular.

Dhoni had already quit captaincy from limited-overs cricket earlier this year, taking everyone by surprise. But the fans were still excited given the prospect of him leading an IPL team. Nonetheless, fans will see him as wicketkeeper-batsman this Indian summer.