Rahul Tripathi (31) and Ajinkya Rahane (30) provided a 63-run opening stand and a 58-run third-wicket stand between Steven Smith (27) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (28) led to expectations that they would score around 175.
But Dhoni and Smith fell off successive deliveries starting from the final ball of the 16th over. They lost three more wickets within three runs. But Manoj Tiwary's quickfire 27 off 11 deliveries helped them get past 161.
However, the competitive total could easily have been a match-winning one, thanks to the start they got from Tripathi (31) and Rahane (30), who posted 61 at the end of Powerplay overs (six).
Both scored at a fair clip, Tripathi especially impressive with hitting three fours and a six against pacers Adam Milne and Sreenath Aravind.
Rahane too looked fluent, timing the ball nicely as he hit five fours in his 30-run knock.
Leg-spinner Samuel Badree broke the opening partnership as Rahane missed the length completely, allowing the ball to dismantle his stumps, with Pune at 63/1 in 7.4 overs.
The following over, bowled by left-arm spinner Pawan Negi, saw Tripathi hitting straight at Virat Kohli at short cover.
These two quick wickets brought Steven Smith and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the middle and a partnership slowly flourished.
Dhoni, who had 28 runs so far prior to this match, showed flashes of his destructive self, hoicking a delivery from leg-spinner Yuzvender Chahal to the roof of the stadium in the leg side.
Smith too joined in the act as the pair got their side past 100 in 13.2 overs.
But just when both were seeming to be dangerous going into the last overs, Dhoni and Smith were bowled in successive deliveries off Shane Watson and Aravind, respectively, leaving Pune at 127/4 in 16.1 overs.
Five deliveries later, Aravind removed Daniel Christian (1). The following over saw Kiwi paceman Adam Milne dismissing Ben Stokes (2) and Shardul Thakur (0) in the first two deliveries, as Pune plunged to 130/7.
Later, Tiwary cracked three fours and two sixes off the 11 deliveries he faced to lift Pune to 161/8.
Brief scores: Pune 161/8 (Rahul Tripathi 31, Ajinkya Rahane 30, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 28, Steven Smith 27; Adam Milne 2/27, Sreenath Aravind 2/29, Pawan Negi 1/12).
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