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Pune set up Qualifier 1 date with Mumbai

Wisden India logo Wisden India 14-05-2017 Nisha Shetty
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The penultimate league match of Indian Premier League 2017 between Rising Pune Supergiant and Kings XI Punjab at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune was billed as a high-stakes, mouth-watering affair for the final playoff spot. However, only Pune turned up, in their Sunday (May 14) best, with Shardul Thakur taking 3 for 19 to blast out Punjab for a sorry 73 and set up a facile nine-wicket win.

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The home side lived up to their name, rising to the second spot in the points table to secure a Maharashtra derby with Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium on May 16. The result also means third-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad, the defending champions, will meet fourth-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator on May 17 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

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Opting to bowl, Pune needed only 15.5 overs to slice and dice through Punjab's line-up that had posted 230 for 3 just three days back against Mumbai. Pune chased the paltry target down in 12 overs, barely breaking into a sweat. Rahul Tripathi made a breezy 28 off 20 balls before he was bowled Axar Patel, leaving Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith to simply nudge the ball around to finish proceedings.

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It was that kind of day for Punjab that even the reliable Martin Guptill dropped Rahane, and he went on to make a run-a-ball 34 as Pune finished on 78 for 1.

From the outset, Pune pounced and were not prepared to concede an inch to Punjab, whose job was made difficult as Glenn Maxwell lost another toss and his team was put in on a slightly sticky surface. Jaydev Unadkat struck with the first ball of the innings, Guptill slapping it straight to Manoj Tiwary at short-cover.

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One after another, Punjab's batsmen found new ways to get out. Shaun Marsh (10) was suckered by into a loose drive by Thakur, and Unadkat was alert to catch Eoin Morgan several inches short of his crease. Thakur then struck again with the wickets of Rahul Tewatia and Maxwell (0), cramping the former for room while the latter was guilty of playing a poor shot, given the circumstances.

Punjab were in the quicksand and sinking fast at 32 for 5 at the end of the Power Play. Wriddhiman Saha and Axar managed to survive for three overs before the innings took a final nosedive.

The cross-seam delivery, particularly, was causing the batsmen a lot of trouble, and ended Saha's stay at 13, Mahendra Singh Dhoni holding onto the edge off Daniel Christian, having dropped one in similar fashion in the third over.

Christian then dismissed Axar, who survived the longest at the crease for a 20-ball 22, before Pune mopped up the tail inside 16 overs.

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