The calming presence of Ajinkya Rahane in the centre made sure that Rising Pune Supergiants register a comfortable seven-wicket win over an in-form Delhi Daredevils outfit at Feroz Shah Kotla on Thursday.
The win also revived Pune’s campaign in the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL). They are now sixth in league table with six points from nine matches, as against Delhi’s 10 from eight matches.
Chasing a 163-run target set by Delhi, Rahane (63 no. off 48) and their new recruit Usman Khawaja (30 off 27) posted a patient 59-run opening stand to give a solid foundation towards its fruition.
After the departure of the Aussie talent, who had a productive Big Bash season, Rahane in company of promoted Saurabh Tiwary (21 off 18) posted another sizeable stand for the second wicket.
Then, MS Dhoni arrived with a license to swing and play his natural attacking game in the final stretch of the match. He hit 27 runs off 20 balls with the help of two sixes and a four.
The finishing touches was however given by hard-hitting Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera (14 off 5), even as Rahane hit the winning runs with a four.
Earlier, Dhoni put the home team to bat and the visiting bowlers got into the task from beginning. Rishabh Pant (2 off 8) had a poor day.
Unlike the young batsman, other Delhi batsmen had starts but failed to translate into big knocks. Sanju Samson (20 off 17), Karun Nair (32 off 23), JP Duminy (34 off 32) and Sam Billings (24 off 15) got opportunities to play long innings, but wasted.
Towards the end, Carlos Brathwaite (20 off 8) and Pawan Negi (19 off 12) hit some lusty blows to help Delhi post a respectable total.
However, it proved some 15 runs short after as Pune batted beautifully from the start to end. And the absence of Delhi’s regular skipper Zaheer Khan, who was taking a strategic rest to cool down his body, as reports had suggested, also hampered the home team’s chances.
Rajat Bhatia (2-22) and Scott Boland (2-31) were the stand-out bowlers for Pune. For Delhi, experienced duo of Amit Mishra (1-28) and Imran Tahir (26-2) bowled well, but lack of wickets proved detrimental in their cause.