Mumbai: Rising Pune Supergiant skipper Steven Smith hailed Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the former captain struck an unbelievable innings to guide Pune into their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) final on Tuesday.
Dhoni’s innings was crucial as it was his 40, from 26 balls, which made the difference in the end as Mumbai fell short by 20 runs.
Skipper Smith was left in the awe of Dhoni’s blitzkrieg and the Aussie lauded Dhoni’s heroics in the final overs of the match.
“It was a big day and big players stepped up. I thought M.S. [Dhoni] was magnificent at the end with Manoj Tiwary. Rahane batted beautifully at the start to give us a chance to have a launch pad at the end,” Smith said during the post-match presentation.
“That was the momentum we needed going into the bowling innings. I thought the execution was fantastic. It was a slow wicket and it was difficult to time the ball but M.S. and Manoj did a terrific job to get a few over the fence and get us to that total,” Smith said.
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma said their batting performance against Pune on Tuesday was their worst of this edition.
“I think 160 was below par to be honest, having seen the scores chased here. Probably the worst batting performance of this season for us,” Sharma said after Mumbai suffered a 20-run loss to Pune.
“We didn’t have enough partnerships, it’s crucial to get small partnerships in. They bowled well to restrict us and to take wickets in the middle overs.
“The shot selection is very important. You need to understand the situation and the conditions and respect them. You’ve to pick the gaps and take it to the end and we didn’t do that. It’s not the end of the world, we still have one more shot in Bangalore,” he added.
Man of the match Washington Sundar of Pune said: “It’s very heartening for me to do well against such a big team on such a big stage in front of a packed crowd. This is for my parents, their prayers are the reason I did this.
“Keeping it simple works for me. Right now I’m not really open to being experimental. I just go out there and I back myself to play to my strengths. ‘Mahi’ bhai has helped me a lot too,” said Sundar.