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Dhoni, Smith together a blessing for Rising Pune Supergiant: Unadkat

India Today logo India Today 5 days ago Rasesh Mandani and Jepher Christopher Nickels

Jaydev Unadkat has been in impressive form this Indian Premier League season with 22 wickets in only 11 matches at a brilliant average of 13.77. Unadkat, who had to wait for four matches before make his Rising Pune Supergiant debut, has been key to guiding the franchise to their maiden IPL final.

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The left-arm pacer has grown in confidence after Pune showed faith in the pacer when they bought him for Rs 30 lakh in the player auction in February.

"I have grown in confidence from doing well. The first game was important and I kept going well from there. I became the captain's go-to-man in pressure situations and I am enjoying that. I also feel fortunate to get that opportunity. It will be great to finish on high," Unadkat told India Today in an exclusive chat.

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Unadkat, in the last two seasons, had played just two games for Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, respectively.

However, he bounced back in style with his consistent performances which also included a hat-trick against Sunrisers Hyderabad this season.

"My slower ones have worked well. I did not get enough game time in the past two seasons but I got it this time and I was happy to have played a crucial role in the team's victory," he said.

The 25-year-old speedster also praised captain Steve Smith and MS Dhoni and said that the team was "blessed" to have them. "Steve Smith and MS Dhoni have been brilliant. Both leaders have been great for their countries. We have been blessed to have them around," he said.

Ben Stokes, who became the costliest foreign player when Pune bought the all-rounder for a whopping Rs 14.50 crore, has returned home to prepare for the ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales from June 1.

Stokes finished his IPL 2017 campaign with 12 wickets and 316 runs from 12 matches. However, the Pune franchise did well in his absence to defeat the two-time champions Mumbai Indians by 20 runs in the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday. "Ben Stokes has been a pivotal player with both bat and ball. He is the one player we would definitely miss. But we did well in the qualifier and we will try to repeat that performance in one more match," Unadkat said.

It was a change in fortunes for RPS, who finished seventh in the points table in their debut season in 2016, to qualify for the final. Pune await the Qualifier 2 winners between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in the final on Super Sunday.

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