Rising Pune Supergiant, the Sanjeev Goenka owned franchise led by MS Dhoni had a forgetful debut season in 2016. They finished seventh on the points table but not before they won a memorable encounter with MS Dhoni scoring 23 needed for Pune to win from the final over against Kings XI Punjab.
MS Dhoni is the most successful IPL captain of all time. Thus this unfortunate season came as a shock to all MS Dhoni fans and it certainly affected him personally as well. This season, Steve Smith will lead the side and MSD will play under him providing him with all the help and expertise. Also the franchise has changed the name of the team to Rising Pune Supergiant inplace of Rsing Pune Supergiants.
In this feature we will analyze Team Pune and focus on their strengths, weaknesses and their chances in this season.
Batting Strength: RPS virtually failed in every department last season and the batting department was the one that hurt them most. KP was injured early last season and Steve Smith also pulled out midway through the tournament. The likes of Faf du Plessis, Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni found it tough going through the tournament. This season though, they have bagged the big fish Ben Stokes for 14.5 crores. Other than the all rounder, they have top quality batsmen in the form of Ajinkya Rahane, Usman Khawaja, MS Dhoni, Manoj Tiwary, Daniel Christian and captain Steve Smith himself. There is all the arsenal that Pune would like to have in their squad. It’s just that they need to click together and produce the runs which were missing last season.
Bowling Strength: Their bowling also failed miserably last season. The likes of Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Adam Zampa failed to live up to the expectations. This year again they have the same bowling line up but with the bowlers in form. Mitchell Marsh will be a key all rounder missing from the side. In his place the RPS contingent has added Imran Tahir which will come as a great boost for the inexperienced bowling attack. They have also removed Ishant Sharma from the side, therefore missing the experience from the bowling attack. This is where they will need their batsmen to back them up with a good score so that they can have an extra 20 to 30 runs in their favor.
COC’s probable playing XI: Ajinkya Rahane , Mayank Agarwal , Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, , MS Dhoni, Rajat Bhatia, Ravi Ashwin, Adam Zampa/ Imran Tahir, Ashok Dinda, Jaydev Unadkat.
COC’s Take: They finished seventh last season and this season they have revamped the team and has made it batting heavy. With teams like Steve Smith, Faf Du Plessis, Ben Stokes, Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhonin himself in the batting line up, this tea will bank on them to take them to top 4 at least.