When chairman Sanjiv Goenka and his group decided to enter the canvas of the Indian Premier League (IPL), they were well aware of Pune’s past blots in the most viewed T20 league across the world. But it was a fresh start, a new bunch of players, a new look support staff and a venue with much more added colors.
With Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals cooling off their heels in the 2 year period, Rising Pune Supergiants had the license to board some of the best cricketers in the circuit, who also had the privilege of singing the winning anthem in the past.
Their maiden march started off as per plan, after thrashing Mumbai Indians in the first match by 9 wickets, but that turned out to be one of their three wins out of 14 games that season. MS Dhoni led RPS finished 7th last year and injuries to star players- Kevin Pietersen and Faf du Plessis didn’t help their matter at all.
In a bid to turn the table around, the Pune franchise has made some striking changes in their ranks by passing the captain’s armband from Dhoni to Australia’s Steven Smith. They roped in England’s Ben Stokes for INR 14.5 crore, the costliest buy in the auction. And they will look to set the field on fire before putting an end to their 2-year love affair with the IPL.
The Rising Supergiants unit looks promising on papers and here we analyze their best possible combination for the playing XI:
Mayank Agarwal and Ajinkya Rahane
Karnataka’s fire power Mayank Agarwal is likely to open the innings with reliable batter Ajinkya Rahane. Mayank had an impressive domestic season and he solves Pune’s woes at the top. Last year, Supergiants experimented with three different openers- Faf du Plessis, Saurabh Tiwary and Usman Khawaja. Mayank was acquired by RPS from Delhi Daredevils during the second trading window this year.
Rahane, on the other hand, is very much aware of his role. He had a good season personally last year, scoring 480 runs at an average of 43.63, with 6 fifties. The Mumbaikar doesn’t carry the reputation of being a big hitter of the ball, but his strike rate has always been over 120’s, making him a perfect choice to see off the first 5 overs smoothly.