Desh Gaurav Sekhri on Rising Pune Supergiants

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The Rising Pune Supergiants are one of the two debutants in IPL 9, but their lineup appears to be that of a seasoned and settled team in large part due to their captain- M.S. Dhoni. The Supergiants, despite being an interim/temporary franchise as one of the replacements to the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals, have depth and balance in their squad, and could easily be considered one of the stronger teams this season. After a one-sided victory over the Mumbai Indians in their opening game, the Supergiants have underachieved since, losing in convincing fashion to the other debutant- the less fancied Gujarat Lions, and then to the Kings XI Punjab which currently sits at the bottom of the standings.  In tonight’s game, Pune faces the dangerous but equally disappointing Royal Challengers Bengaluru, in what could be a season-defining match for both teams. Pune’s biggest strength lies in its leadership, and its capped Indian players. With spinner R. Ashwin, batsman Ajinkya Rahane, bowlers Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, and all-rounder Irfan Pathan, Pune can turn things around. If it is to do so, it will also need consistent performances from its star batsmen South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, England’s Kevin Pieterson, and Australian captain Steven Smith. With two shots at winning the IPL title, 2016 is the edition that Pune will be targeting for its campaign to be successful. After all, with Dhoni at the helm, anything is possible.

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