Sublime Smith and Tahir sparkle in Pune victory
Steve Smith shows no signs of ending his remarkable form, this time guiding Rising Pune Supergiant to an IPL win over Mumbai Indians.
Steve Smith maintained his outstanding form with a sublime innings after a leg-spinning masterclass from Imran Tahir as Rising Pune Supergiant started their Indian Premier League campaign with a seven-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians.
Smith was imperious during Australia's recent Test series defeat to India, scoring three centuries after another in a tour match, and carried on where he left off in his first game as Pune captain on Thursday.
The Australia skipper hit back-to-back sixes in the final over to seal victory and ended his latest stellar innings unbeaten on 84 from only 54 balls, having been dropped on 36, after Ajinkya Rahane bludgeoned a rapid 60 from 34 in a superb run chase.
Jos Buttler took a liking to England team-mate and IPL debutant Ben Stokes as the most expensive overseas recruit in the history of the tournament took 1-36, while Hardik Pandya produced some late fireworks to enable Mumbai to post 184-8.
It was South Africa spinner Tahir - only brought in as an injury replacement for Mitchell Marsh after being overlooked in the auction - who was the best bowler on the night, taking 3-28 before Smith produced yet more heroics to raise the roof.
Buttler put on a show at the top of the order after Smith won the toss, scooping Stokes audaciously over the wicketkeeper from outside the off stump for one of his three sixes.
It was the introduction of the in-form Tahir that turned the tide, though, Buttler one of three victims in his first two overs as Mumbai slipped to 62-3.
Tahir also appeared to be unfortunate not to have Kieron Pollard trapped leg before when the ball appeared to strike pad before bat in front, although the spinner did strike a blow to the West Indies all-rounder when his throw hit him on the elbow.
Pollard batted on in pain after treatment, but became Stokes' first IPL victim before Pandya took 35 from only 15 balls - 28 of which came off five deliveries in a horror final over from Ashok Dinda, whose wicketless four overs went for 57.
Rahane rode his luck early on, but was able to set the tone at the top of the order, with Smith put down on 36 by Nitish Rana off Mitchell McClenaghan at deep square leg in a moment that proved to be costly as he found the boundary with apparent ease.
Stokes holed out for 21, but Smith led his side home with a ball to spare, launching Pollard for two towering sixes on a painful night for Mumbai, who also had Ambati Rayudu carried off with a leg injury prior to Tim Southee dropping MS Dhoni (12 not out).