First they changed their captain, then the team's name. Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) are all set to feature in their second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). While the other newcomers, Gujarat Lions, made their mark by reaching to the business end of the tournament last year, MS Dhoni's RPS could not replicate the same success in their first appearance and failed to qualify for the playoffs, having finished seventh on the table. Now, the captaincy has shifted from the experienced Dhoni to Australia skipper Steve Smith. Hence, the former captain's role will be restricted in RPS' second edition. Nonetheless he still will have a big role to play.
RPS bagged England all-rounder Ben Stokes for whopping Rs 14.50 crore, which also made Stokes the most expensive overseas player in IPL history. He will be the one to watch out for in IPL 2017.
But the biggest setback for the team has been the pull out of Ravichandran Ashwin from the entire season due to sports hernia.
RPS boast of Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, Dhoni, and Faf du Plessis and have a more settled top six than last year. Smith's skills as captain will also come in handy as they seek a fresh start.
The middle-order looks solid in the presence of Dhoni, Stokes and Du Plessis. Moreover, RPS also have some serious all-rounders in its squad who can turn the game around on their day.
The bowling looks to be the weak spot and could lead to their downfall if the Steve Smith and Co. don't spot the right combination early. Ashok Dinda, Ishwar Pandey and Shardul Thakur will have to work really hard to justify their presence in the new-look team.
Squad: Steve Smith (C), Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, MS Dhoni (w), Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur.