What happens when Chennai Superkings fall? They break into two parts; The Rising Pune Supergiants and The Gujarat Lions. Well, at least the first look at them seems so. A closed cohesive unit for 8 consecutive years is now divided and you see them in new uniforms. The Master MS Dhoni leading the supergiants and his student (If we may call him so), Suresh Raina leading the Gujarat Lions. Both teams were off to a winning start in their respective debut matches and today faced off against each other at Rajkot. Looking at both the teams, it won’t be unfair to call it the battle of the equals.
MS Dhoni won the toss on a surprisingly green Rajkot pitch and had no hesitation in batting first.
The decision seemed as a good one when Faf Du Plessis and Kevin Pieterson were batting together.
They looked good for a score in excess of 190 but then came the Champion; DJ Bravo with his variations. Pieterson was fooled by a slower one by Bravo to be bowled out for a well made 37 off 31 balls to stitch together a 86 run partnership with Du Plessis, who top scored for RPS with a valiant 69 off 43 balls, which consisted 4 towering sixes as well. The wicket of Pieterson changed the momentum of the innings, as the Lions bowlers suffocated the batsmen for runs. Last 4 overs of the innings went for just 29 runs, out of which 20 were scored in the last over alone, by MS Dhoni. Star Bowler for the Lions was the home boy Ravindra Jadeja who came back for his second spell to bowl the 17th and the 19th over for figures of 2 wickets for 4 runs.
Dhoni’s blitzkrieg in the last over presented some respectability to Pune’s score, reaching 163 for 5, which on this wicket was way below par.
Gujarat Lions boast of the most destructive opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch in IPL. And they did not disappoint. Both the openers went after the bowling from the word go to kill any chances of RPS trying to make a match of it. Finch was the first wicket to fall but after completing his 2nd half century in as many matches in IPL 9. The openers added 85 in just 8.3 overs. Ishant removed McCullum for a breezy 49 off a mere 31 balls. The last nail in Pune’s coffin was the arrival of Dwayne Bravo, who finished off the match in style with a Caribbean flair filled 22 off 10 deliveries. Gujarat Lions romped home with 2 overs to spare. Aaron Finch was man of the match for his innings.
By the look if it, both these teams seem to be among the strongest contenders for the trophy in their debut season and will be the teams to beat.