The second match of the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League saw Rising Pune Supergiant register a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indian in a nail-biting encounter at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
Chasing 185 for victory, it was a captain’s knock by Steven Smith as he hit an unbeaten 84 off just 54 balls with seven fours and three sixes to take Pune home with a ball to spare. In fact, much to the delight of the fans, Smith hit back to back sixes off the fourth and fifth ball of the last over to take his team home when the hosts needed 10 off the last 3 balls.
But things could have been very different if Nitish Rana had not dropped the batsman on 36 off Mitchell McClenaghan’s bowling. It was the last ball of the 13th over of the innings and Smith went for the pull even though he had been cramped for room. Rana who was fielding at the square-leg boundary covered good ground, but failed to latch onto an easy catch.
At that point, Pune needed 72 runs off 43 balls at above 10 runs per over. Also, Smith was still to get into the attacking mode, having played second fiddle so far to Ajinkya Rahane who had been dismissed just two overs back after stitching a 58-run partnership for the second wicket at 8.28 runs per over.
With Stokes yet to settle down, batting on 9, and Smith batting on 36 off 31 balls, the blow could well have changed the course of the game.
But as luck would have it, Smith survived to live another day and not only did he put on 50 for the third wicket with Stokes (21), but also ensured that he gave the opposition no further opportunities and guided his team to a morale-boosting win in the first game of the season.