Maha Derby ends in last over finish

Entertainment was on full tilt in Pune today, as the Maharashtra Derby turned into a high-scoring game. After losing our way in the middle of our innings, Hardik Pandya pulled out something special out of his bag of tricks in the final over. His explosive hits gave us a great total to defend. However, the pitch stayed brilliant to bat on, even in the second innings and Rising Pune Supergiant batted well for most parts of the innings. The game wasn’t over until the final over as a lot of drama unfolded.

Before the match began, the toss didn’t go our way and Steven Smith put us in to bat. On a pitch which looked quite hard and conducive to bat on, we didn’t really mind having to wield the willow first. A surprise was in store for RPS as Parthiv Patel was accompanied by Jos Buttler to open the innings. The wicket-keeping duo got us off the blocks early and made the most of the Powerplay. Buttler was in a destructive mood as he scored 38 off just 19 balls.

A good opening stand was followed by a mild storm in the middle overs, as the batsmen in our middle-order lost wickets at regular intervals. However, Nitish Rana kept his cool and struck a vital 34 to keep the innings on track. Once Rana was dismissed, the onus of finishing the innings rested on two big hitters, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya. They took time before getting going, but Pollard received a nasty blow on his arm which left him in considerable pain.

It didn’t seem like we would get a massive total, as we managed to get up to 154 by the 19th over. Hardik Pandya though, had other ideas. The last over was being bowled by Ashok Dinda, and little did he know that he would have to endure a Ben Stokes-like memory. This is how the final over read:

6, 6, 6, 4, 6, W/1WD, 1 - 30 runs that boosted our total from 154 to 184.

Rising Pune Supergiant came out all guns blazing, knowing that they had to get off to a brisk start. Ajinkya Rahane was middling almost everything and laid the platform, despite losing Mayank Agarwal rather early. We had to work hard for the second wicket. Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane added 58 runs together and kept the scoreboard ticking at a fair clip.

Smith took over once Rahane fell and went on to score a crucial half century for RPS. He was also aided by Nitish Rana, who gave him an extra life, dropping a tough chance in the deep when the Pune skipper was on 36. Our bowlers tried their best to keep a lid on the scoring, but the Pune batsmen found ways to score boundaries at regular intervals. Dhoni kept Smith good company as our bowlers took it down to the final over.

With 13 runs needed off the final over, the ball was handed over to Kieron Pollard. Tensions were running high as the first three balls yielded just a single each, for Smith and Dhoni. Smith kept a cool head and smacked the next two balls for sixes, to seal the Mahrashtra Derby.

We may not have won the game, but the fight we showed with the bat and the ball was very pleasing. At no stage did it look like we were out of the game. Some individual performances should be great positives to take away from the game. We play our next game at home, our first this season, against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, 9th April.

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