Skipper Smith praises Pune bowlers

Jaydev Unadkat is currently behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar with 21 wickets in 10 matches

But this fact will not be enough for the first qualifier match that is held today (May 16, 2017) at Wankhede Stadium.

In the batting department, Pune will bank on their top order comprising Rahul Tripathi, Ajinkya Rahane and Smith to give them a platform for Manoj Tiwary and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to flourish later in the order. He's in good touch and could pose a problem to the Mumbai bowlers, who can't afford to stray in length.

Mumbai have another shot at booking a final berth when they take on the victor of the eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in the second qualifier on Friday.

Kings XI got off to the worst possible start when they lost opener Martin Guptill to a first-ball duck, and they had only added 19 to the total by the time Shaun Marsh (10) holed out to Australia team-mate Steve Smith. Saha played one (good) innings, Manan Vohra played one innings but apart from that none of the others played responsibly. Until the penultimate over. Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwari constructed the RPS inning with a solid 80 runs partnership for the third wicket. Rahul Tripathi scored 28 runs in 20 deliveries, which included four boundaries and a six. As the boundaries dried up, the duo resorted to running between the wickets to keep the scorecard ticking.

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A lot of questions have been raised on MS Dhoni's skills as a finisher. Three times we have beaten them this year. Steven Smith for RPS, and Glenn Maxwell for KXIP, need to turn match-winners for their respective teams in this virtual knockout match.

In the 20th over, Tiwary chose to take a single and watch the show as Dhoni first went over covers off Jasprit Bumrah and then went for a double off a mistimed pull. This meant, Mumbai slipped to 51/4 in eight overs. He hit two more sixes to help Rising Pune plunder 41 in the last two overs. The over produced 26. "You can carry momentum, but that's it". Tiwary fell in the 20th over for a 48-ball 58, while Dhoni remained unbeaten on a 26-ball 40.

Pune made just one change with pace bowler Lockie Ferguson replacing all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has gone back home. But Mumbai weren't really up to the task.

Only Parthiv Patel (52) showed some resolve to bat sensibly. With this, RPS climbed up to the second spot on the points table and will take on table-toppers Mumbai Indians in the qualifiers at Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.

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