Steven Smith took over as RPS captain from MS Dhoni    BCCI
Steven Smith took over as RPS captain from MS Dhoni BCCI

Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) are all set to play their first final of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday in Hyderabad and owner Sanjiv Goenka has opined that team s captain Steven Smith has a sharper mind than former captain MS Dhoni. Dhoni, who is known to be one of the calm-headed skippers of modern-day cricket, was relieved of his duties as a captain of RPS for this edition with Smith taking over. However, the change in power did not come off very smoothly as a message from Goenka indicated that the apparent reason for axing the helicopter-shot specialist was RPS poor show in the previous season. ICC Champions Trophy 2017: India’s performance depends on how Virat Kohli uses MS Dhoni s experience, says Kapil Dev

MS is one of the greatest minds I have interacted with. And he is the best wicketkeeper in the world, Goenka told Hindustan Times. The one mind ahead of Dhoni s is Smith s, he said, referring to captain Steve Smith. My brief to Smith was: win the championship . It s difficult to believe the way he has planned some dismissals, the tact and firmness with which he has dealt with tricky situations and the win-or-nothing attitude he has been able to infuse in the team, get them to gel as a unit. And he s gone out in the strategic timeouts to tell batsmen to either score 30 off the next 12 balls or get out. If we had a bad start, it was because Smith was out with food poisoning.

You need to win eight-nine games to make the playoffs and Smith told me that between him, [Imran] Tahir and [Ben] Stokes, we would win seven. And players of the calibre of MS will always give you something. We had more match winners this time, players who would need five-six balls to settle down instead of 20. And we hadn t factored in Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat. Tripathi and Sundar are going to be serious players on the Indian cricket scene, Goenka revealed.

The first season was a disaster and I wanted it to end soonest, with our dignity intact. The team got younger, fitter and more energetic. So, we have fielded better. This time, with whom players loyalties lay didn t matter. We didn t want to be like a franchise that doesn t invest its Rs 66 crore purse and is happy finishing fifth, but last year I didn t know better. Also, with the World T20 around, we didn t have time, he explained.