All-round Pune outclass Mumbai Indians in IPL opener

 111(IANS) Rising Pune Supergiants produced an impressive all-round performance to outclass Mumbai Indians, defeating them by nine wickets in the opening match of the ninth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.

Batting first, Mumbai lost wickets at regular intervals and were restricted to 121/8 in 20 overs. Harbhajan Singh (45 not out) was the top scorer for the home side.

In reply, riding on Ajinkya Rahane’s unbeaten 66, Pune chased down the target comfortably posting 126/1 in 14.4 overs.

Chasing the target, Pune got off to a flying start with openers Rahane and Faf du Plessis (34) smashing the bowlers to all parts to post 57/0 in powerplay.

The duo kept the run flow going without losing any wickets by striking boundaries at regular intervals to post 76/0 after completion of nine overs.

But a bowling change by skipper Rohit Sharma worked wonders as Harbhajan cleaned up Du Plessis to leave Pune at 78/1 in 9.4 overs and keep Mumbai in the game.

However, Rahane along with incoming batsman Kevin Pietersen kept on rotating the strike followed by couple of boundaries and big hits to take their team close to victory line.

Rahane played sensibly to bring up his half-century in just 32 balls. He remained unbeaten alongside Pietersen (21 not out) to take the team to their first victory of the season.

Opting to bat first, Mumbai Indians got off to a disastrous start losing their first four batsmen – Lendl Simmons (8), Rohit Sharma (7), Hardik Pandya (9) and Jos Buttler (0) – inside first five overs of play to have the team tottering at 30/4.

New batsmen Kieron Pollard (1) and Ambati Rayudu held on for couple of overs but the West Indian’s stay in the middle was cut short by medium pacer Rajat Bhatia in the first ball of the eighth over to have the home side in spot of bother at 40/5.

The home side’s batsmen failed to stop their wickets from tumbling as Shreyas Gopal who looked to give some sort of support to Rayudu departed in the 11th over to have team in trouble at 51/6 and leave the packed stadium shell-shocked.

From there on, Rayudu and incoming batsman Harbhajan Singh played sensibly by sneaking in with couple of ones and twos without losing any wickets to help team cross the 65-run mark in 15th over.

With the dismissal of Rayudu, Harbhajan used his experience to best effect to stay put and pile on some useful runs with couple of boundaries and sixes for the hosts in the final overs to take team past 120-run mark.

Ishant Sharma and Mitchell Marsh picked two wickets each and Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhatia, Murugan Ashwin and R.P. Singh claimed one each for Pune.

Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 121/8 in 20 overs (Harbhajan Singh 45 not out; Mitchell Marsh 2-21, Ishant Sharma 2-36) vs Rising Pune Supergiants 126/1 in 14.4 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 66 not out, Faf du Plessis 34; Harbhajan Singh 1-24)

Medaram Jathara

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