A thrilling encounter in Pune saw Rising Pune Supergiants edging past the Mumbai Indians by a ball to spare and with seven wickets in hand. With a total of 370 runs being scored, the game was obviously not short of action. We pick four extravagant moments from today’s Match.
1. The funny banter between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kevin Pietersen…!
Amid all the thrilling Cricket at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s Stadium in Pune where RPS prevailed over MI with a ball and seven wickets to spare, the funny banter between Pietersen, in the commentary box behind the mic and RPS’s wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the best moment of the game, as far as our opinion is concerned. It was the second over of the match and Manoj Tiwary, standing in first slip, was connected with the commentary box. Pietersen, in a bid to have pure fun, asked Tiwary to tell MSD that he was a better golfer than the former India captain.
“Pietersen keh rahe hai ki woh aapse better golfer hai (Pietersen is saying that he is a better golfer than you)” said an amused Tiwary, to which a witty Mahendra Singh Dhoni replied, “tell him he’s still my first wicket”.
This had the commentary box and everyone here in splits, even as Pietersen tried to shout amid loud laughter, “Noooo, it was a referral and I was not out”.
It may be recalled that Mahendra Singh Dhoni once took off his gloves and came out to bowl. With Pietersen facing, he had a leg-slip in, quite an unusual position for someone like Pietersen. As luck would have it, Pietersen was caught in the leg-slip and was out as per the umpire, before the third-umpire was referred to by him and the decision was eventually overturned.
After a high-octane series against Australia where abuses and criticisms were hurled at each other, this light-hearted banter was a refreshing experience for everyone.
2. Hardik Pandya smashes 30 off the last over!!!
Mumbai Indians were gasping for air at 154/7 after 19 overs, a score that was way below par on an absolute belter of a wicket. Ashoke Dinda readied himself to bowl the last over and even as he charged into the bowl the first ball, a determined Hardik Pandya stood with a middle-stump guard, ready to swing his blade at anything and everything. Result? 6 6 6 4 6 Wide 1Byes. A total of 30 runs off the last over and the game was suddenly an interesting one. Talk about the momentum switching within an over!!!!! This was quintessentially T20 Cricket!
3. Smith hits two sixes to finish things off, too good!!!
At one point, it looked like Steven Smith would steer Rising Pune Supergiants to an easy victory. Yet, after a few dots and a couple of mishits, it came down to the Supergiants needing 10 off last 3. The RPS fans could be seen nervous, biting off nails. Smith, who has been in sizzling form ever since we first saw him, hit two clinical sixes, the first one carted over long on into impunity and the second one lifted over deep mid-on three rows back. He won the game and settled the nerves. A charismatic Captain, indeed.
4. Imran Tahir disturbs Rohit Sharma’s woodwork.
Imran Tahir, the South African leggie who had gone unsold in the IPL 10 auctions in February, sneaked in at the last moment as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Marsh. A lot of experts and fans, including us, were surprised when Tahir, a wily leg-spinner, didn’t find any takers. One of the few disadvantages of the fast-paced league, we thought. We were delirious after Tahir eventually made his way into the league, picked up by the RPS. And today, Tahir showed why he deserved to be in there, in the middle. He first bowled Parthiv from behind his legs but the moment that put the Mumbai Indians on backfoot, and the moment that showed why Tahir is who he is – a respected spinner – was when Tahir bowled a swirling googly to Rohit Sharma, a delivery Sharma seemed to have no clue about. Sharma played for the conventional leg-spin and the bowl simply whizzed past his bat, through the gap, and rammed onto the furniture. A staggering moment, indeed!