Supergiant start favourites against Kings

Supergiant start favourites against Kings

Supergiant start favourites against Kings

Rising Pune Supergiant would aim to build on a promising start when they take on last season’s laggards, Kings XI Punjab, in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.

Steven Smith, who has replaced MS Dhoni as the Pune captain, began the season in style by smashing an unbeaten 84 on Thursday to seal a seven wicket win in the opener against Mumbai Indians.

The Australian would be hoping his dream run with the bat rubs off on to the Pune outfit, which is eyeing a turnaround after a forgettable IPL debut last season. The team had finished second last in the standings, only ahead of Kings XI.

Pune’s spinners — Imran Tahir and Adam Zampa — impressed but Smith will be expecting more from Ashok Dinda and Deepak Chahar considering the Indian pace duo leaked runs against Mumbai. Ben Stokes, the most expensive foreign buy in the IPL auction, had a decent debut for Pune as he picked up a wicket before coming up with a 21-run cameo that included three sixes.

Ajinkya Rahane was sublime at the top of the order while Dhoni didn’t get too much to do with the bat. Smith stole the show courtesy a couple of sixes in the final over of the match.

Pune will be up against Kings XI, a team looking to make amends for finishing last in the previous two seasons.

They would be hoping their bold decision of making Glenn Maxwell the captain, ahead of established names like Eoin Morgan, pays off.

It remains to be seen what combination Kings XI goes ahead with in their IPL opener. Though they have retained their core group, Kings XI bought eight players in the IPL auction including well known names like Morgan, Darren Sammy, Martin Guptill and Varun Aaron. The squad has been training at the Holkar Stadium for about a week now and should be familiar with the conditions. Sources confirmed that Sammy is yet to join the team.

The team was dealt a blow in the run up to the IPL when senior batsman Murali Vijay was ruled of the competition due to an injury. Pacer Ishant Sharma, who went unsold in the auction, was named Vijay’s replacement.

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