Rising Pune Supergiant sealed their berth into the IPL knockout stages after a dominant showing against Kings XI Punjab at MCA Stadium in Pune. RPS brought to an end KXIP’s surge with five straight wins and a late rise in hopes of qualifying for the latter part of the IPL. But that run went for nothing in the end after KXIP were dismissed for 73 and RPS coasted to a nine wicket win and a second place finish in the IPL standings with the round robin done and dusted.
The win and placement in the table means RPS will take on table toppers Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium in the first qualifier. A win for either of the two teams will seal their passage into the final, scheduled for May 21, in Hyderabad.
Speaking after the win against KXIP, RPS coach Stephen Fleming and young guns Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur remained upbeat in a candid conversation with the former Kiwi skipper posing questions.
Fleming: We got through a Quarterfinal (against KXIP). We’ve had a couple of young guns and excited to be through to IPL knockouts. It was frustrating last year but this year we’ve had great performances.
Fleming to Unadkat: You’ve taken a lot of wickets this season, bowled at death and performed number of roles. What’s the secret?
Unadkat: The backing I’ve received from the captain and the management has been really helpful. Coach has been very, very supportive (laughs). The plan was to keep things simple. Our talks always centre around that. Things don’t always work out as per plans in T20s but our execution has been brilliant. Really happy that things are going in my favour.
Fleming to Thakur: Why are you so unpredictable?
Shardul: I think it is due to my attitude in life. I’m unpredictable in life and it is there in the game too.
Fleming: We will be without Ben Stokes. How important has he been?
Shardul: He’s also unpredictable like me but not in the game. Jokes apart, Ben has been an inspiration and got us through many times. He’s got three Man of the Match Awards and been a big bonus for the team
Fleming: He’s been a very good buy. He was an expensive buy but a very good.
Fleming: The team has won both the games against Mumbai Indians this season. Can we make it three?
Unadkat: We would have the advantage against them. We’ve beaten them twice this season and it’d play on their minds. We must grab the opportunity which has come our way. We have the momentum while they’ve not done really well in the last couple of games. They’re a formidable side but the team we have is good enough to beat any team on any day. And that’s what we’d be hoping for come May 16.
Shardul: I am from Mumbai, I don’t know if you’re aware. I look forward to playing at Wankhede. I won’t like to miss that opportunity to beat Mumbai in Mumbai and then go to Hyderabad.