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IPL 2017, Match 2: Pune v Mumbai

Wisden India logo Wisden India 06-04-2017 Wisden India staff
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Pune will always remain special for Steven Smith. The Australian captain’s match-winning 109 in the first Test against India in the recently concluded series on a pitch that was termed by “poor” by the International Cricket Council has set the benchmark for all overseas batsmen in the future. Having replaced Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Rising Pune Supergiant’s skipper, Smith now has an opportunity to extend his honeymoon with the city by helping the franchise put up a good show in the 2017 Indian Premier League as they begin their campaign with a home game against Mumbai Indians on Thursday (April 6).

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NEW DELHI, INDIA - APRIL 29: Cheerleaders during the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi on April 29, 2012. (Photo by Kaushik Roy/India Today Group/Getty Images) 20 biggest IPL controversies — Presented by OPPO

The Maharashtra derby last year was shared 1-1, Pune prevailing in their maiden IPL game and then Mumbai settling scores in their away fixture. Both teams failed to make it to the playoffs, resulting in major rejigs. Pune, hampered by injuries last season and without R Ashwin now, stripped Mahendra Singh Dhoni of the captaincy – a big call considering the success he has had in the league over nine editions, and with the country for so long. Then, they spent Rs 14.5 crore to buy Ben Stokes in the auction. Mumbai brought in Mahela Jayawardene as coach, spent Rs 2 crore to buy K Gowtham, the Karnataka offspinner, and bought back the services of Mitchell Johnson.

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With Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya fit to play, Krunal Pandya in good form and Kieron Pollard eager to prove a point, Mumbai have experience in their favour. But they will miss Lasith Malinga in their first game, and that gives Pune an opening to work on. 

Pune’s spin attack looks much better on paper with Adam Zampa, one of the best performers from last season, and Imran Tahir, the No.1 ranked white-ball bowler in the world currently, in their ranks. The seam department, though, is slightly thin but it is an opportunity for those in the ranks to make an impression.

Pune would do well to remember that in the opening game last season, each of their six bowlers took a wicket at least to restrict Mumbai to 121 for 8 before Ajinkya Rahane got the job done with an unbeaten 66.

Rahane and Rohit will have one eye on Champions Trophy selection, and there is no better way to make themselves count than a strong start in the last tournament before the team travels to England.

With so many subsets within the contest, there is a lot at stake and both teams would want to begin their respective campaigns with the right result.  

Head-to-head record of the teams involved:

Matches played: 2, Mumbai won: 1, Pune won: 1 

Head-to-head record at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium:

Matches played: 1, Mumbai won: 1, Pune won: 0

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