Smith leads Pune chase to beat Mumbai in IPL opener

PUNE: Steven Smith whacked two successive sixes to cap Rising Pune Supergiant's seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in their Indian Premier League opener on Thursday.

Smith, in his first match as Supergiant captain, won the toss and made Mumbai bat first, and the Indians tallied a competitive 184-8. They had never lost a match with that high a score.

But Smith, after a grand start by opener Ajinkya Rahane, made 84 not out to help Supergiant score 187-3 with one ball left.

Smith came into Supergiant's chase in the fourth over. Rahane was on 27.

Rahane continued to take the lead, reaching his 50 off 27 balls with his sixth boundary. He was out for 60 off 34, to a diving catch by Nitish Rana at deep square leg. Smith was on 25.

Dropped on 36 by Rana, Smith made 50 off 37 balls.

He lost Ben Stokes for 21 in the 16th over, to a catch by Tim Southee, who then dropped Mahendra Singh Dhoni on 9 in the penultimate over.

Smith clinched the win by smashing allrounder Kieron Pollard, just arrived from the West Indies' losing T20 home series against Pakistan. Smith's 84 off 54 balls included three sixes and seven boundaries.

Supergiant turned heads by picking two legspinners, Imran Tahir, the world No. 1-ranked T20 spinner, and Adam Zampa, their leading wicket-taker last year.

The decision proved to be wise.

Tahir took the first three wickets, bowling Parthiv Patel around his legs for 19, taking out Rohit Sharma for 3, and trapping Jos Buttler on 38 off 19 balls. Contrast that with 2016, when Tahir conceded 59 off four overs against Mumbai and wasn't picked again.

Medium-fast bowler Rajat Bhatia got the next two wickets, and made the catch for Zampa's wicket.

In the final over, medium-fast bowler Ashok Dinda was smashed by Hardik Pandya, and conceded 6-6-6-4-6-wide/run out-bye. Dinda conceded 57 in his four overs but would have had a wicket in his first over if Rajat Bhatia hadn't dropped opener Parthiv Patel.

On Friday, Gujarat Lions meet Kolkata Knight Riders.

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