It will not be an understatement to say that there was something terribly amiss at the Rising Pune Supergiant outfit last season, which led them to finish seventh in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). They had a formidable batting line-up, big-name foreign players and a captain with the track record of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
However, injuries to key foreign imports Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith midway through the campaign hurt them as much as Ravichandran Ashwin's dip in form. The off spinner claimed just 10 wickets in 14 innings — terrible returns for a bowler of the calibre of Ashwin. Dhoni too seemed to be off colour with both his batting and captaincy.
Ajinkya Rahane, with 480 runs in 14 innings, was one of the rare bright spots in what was a dark and gloomy year for the franchise. The dismal results forced the team management to chop and change, hoping to get out of the rut of the ninth edition. They let go players like Pietersen, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Thisara Perera, RP Singh, Peter Handscomb, Saurabh Tiwary and Albie Morkel. In the IPL auctions in February, they forked out Rs 14.5 crore on Ben Stokes, nearly 80 percent of their purse. They also did the unthinkable: took captaincy away from Dhoni and handed it over to Smith. Not to mention they dropped an alphabet from their name.
Stokes aside, many of the other names Pune bought in the auction were low profile. However, they managed to secure the services of spinner Imran Tahir as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Marsh, which will bolster their spin department in the absence of Ashwin, who has been ruled out of the season.
Whether these changes jolt the team out of their inertia, however, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure – given the dejection of last season under his captaincy and having lost the reins of the team, Dhoni will have a lot to prove. How he performs could also reflect in how the team does.
RPS squad: Shardul Thakur, MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith(c), Faf du Plessis, Ashok Dinda, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Adam Zampa, Jaskaran Singh, Baba Aparajith, Deepak Chahar, Usman Khawaja, Mayank Agarwal, Ben Stokes, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, Rahul Chahar, Daniel Christian, Lockie Ferguson, Saurabh Kumar, Milind Tandon, Rahul Tripathi, Imran Tahir.
Updated Date: Apr 05, 2017 14:55 PM