Kolkata, May 4 (IANS) Rookie batsman Rahul Tripathi put his more illustrious team mates in the star-studded Rising Pune Supergiant batting line-up in the shade when he produced a belligerent half-century to help his side beat Kolkata Knight Riders and increase their chances of bagging a spot in the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs.
The 26-year-old opener came up with a quick fire 52-ball 93 at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday evening that helped Rising Pune Supergiant beat Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by four wickets.
In a team which boasts of some of the world's best batsman including skipper Steven Smith, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane and Ben Stokes, it is really difficult for a young inexperienced player to stand out.
"Rahul played outstandingly today. He has really been in good touch from the start of this season," Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary, a senior player in the Pune team, said of the Maharashtra batsman at the post-match press conference.
"I was following him in the Ranji Trophy as well. Last year he scored a hundred against Bengal, I remember. At that point of time, I knew that if this guy works hard, he will come up.
"This year also, he played in the quarterfinal against Bengal in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, over there, he scored 92 runs. Throughout the year, he's been in really good touch and was scoring the 30-40s in the previous games and I am pretty happy, the team is also very happy that he has carried that start to convert it into a big one," Tiwary added.
Chasing a sub-par target of 156 runs to win, Pune needed a solid start but little did KKR bowlers know that they would be taken to the cleaners away in the first six overs of the contest.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has been KKR's best paceman in this campaign, was hit for 19 off his first over while Umesh Yadav, India's best fast bowler at the moment, was hit for a six and a four off back-to-back balls in the next over.
Tripathi smacked Coulter-Nile for 14 more in his next over, racing to 47 off just 18 balls.
Next up was left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav who had been tricking the big boys in this IPL with his googlies. Kuldeep got rid of Dhoni, the second time he has managed to dismiss the former India captain in this IPL.
But Tripathi sent the young left-armer for three sixes in a row to once again establish that he was not bothered by reputations, and rather was there to build his own.
"It's always difficult to stop a player on his day," KKR's English all-rounder Ben Stokes said after the match.
"Unfortunately, we actually gave (David) Warner a couple of chances, myself included, I dropped a catch. When you give good players opportunities to score runs, they take full advantage, We didn't do that today, we didn't drop any chances. He simply played a fantastic knock.
"He played very, very well, credit to him. He put us under pressure, attacked the new ball and when the spinners came on as well, he cleared the ropes and hit some good boundaries. Some times, you got to say fair play, he looks a very good player, bright one for the future, I am sure," Stokes added.
Tiwary pointed out that Tripathi has performed well in the Ranji Trophy as well.
"I was following him in the Ranji Trophy as well," Tiwary said answering a lot of questions regarding the arrival of Tripathi.
"Last year he scored a hundred against Bengal, I remember.At that point of time, I knew that if this guy works hard, he will come up. This year also, he played in the quarterfinal against Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, over there, he scored 95 runs," Tiwary added.
There were cheers of "Dhoni, Dhoni" when India's most successful captain came in to bat. But by then, Tripathi had already left a mark at the Eden and by the time the packed crowd were leaving the amphitheatre like stadium, they had their smartphones out googling the name "Rahul Tripathi."