The Gujarat Lions put the brakes on their three-match losing streak after they chased down the 190-run target set by Kings XI Punjab on Sunday night. The Lions were powered to the 6-wicket win by blitzes from opener Dwayne Smith and skipper Suresh Raina, before Dinesh Karthik helped the team get across the finish line with two balls remaining in the innings.
The platform for the Lions win was set by the opening pair of Smith and Ishan Kishan, who added 91 runs at nearly 10 runs an over. The teenager Kishan set things rolling by collecting a boundary off the second ball of the innings, but then took a backseat as Smith plundered the KXIP bowlers. By the time the powerplay period had ended, the Lions had cruised to 58-0, with Smith contributing 43 to the total.
Smith must have been under immense pressure having scored only 19 runs in his last six innings. But the 34-year old had the platform to hit himself into form; he had the opportunity to open the innings, he had the freedom to go and play his strokes, and he did not let slip the chance to hit his way out of poor form. He hit eight boundaries and four sixes in his 39-ball 74 and scored more than half his runs hitting down the ground. Smith needed only 28 balls to get to his half-century and dominated the 91-run stand with young Kishan.
The opening stand was broken in the tenth over when Kishan holed out to midwicket; the left-hander made 29 from 24 balls. Smith’s entertaining innings ended in the twelfth over when he attempted to deposit Glenn Maxwell into the stands, but picked the man on the boundary.
Suresh Raina (39 from 25 balls) batted fluently and struck four boundaries and a six, and it appeared that he would help his team win pretty easily. But Raina’s dismissal in the eighteenth over, which was followed by Aaron Finch’s dismissal, brought life back into the match.
Dinesh Karthik (35 from 23 balls) stayed calm and took his team across the line; the Lions wicketkeeper was lucky in that he collected a timely six – off a top-edge which sailed over the wicketkeeper’s head – in the nineteenth over, after which he collected a boundary through point to bring the equation down to manageable proportions. Karthik completed the run-chase when he collected a boundary through extra cover and the Lions had collected two points from the match.
For KXIP, Sandeep Sharma was impressive yet again returning figures of 2-29, while Maxwell and Natarajan (who bowled a sloppy final over) chipped in with a wicket each. KXIP made things difficult for themselves by not holding onto the chances that came their way; Smith was put down twice – on 42 (by David Miller) and on 51 (by Gurkeerat Mann), while was let Raina off when he was on 36.
Earlier in the evening, Hashim Amla scored his second century of VIVO IPL 2017 and stitched together a 125-run partnership with Shaun Marsh that helped KXIP post 189-3. The hosts started on a poor note losing opener Martin Guptill to the fifth ball of the match.
Amla too took time to get going; he did not score off the first five deliveries be faced, but then collected boundaries off successive balls in the third over to set things in motion. Two quiet overs followed, after which Amla welcomed James Faulkner into the attack with a six over long-off and a boundary through the leg-side. At the end of the powerplay period, KXIP were 44-1 and Amla was 30 from 18 balls.
With Amla batting fluently, Shaun Marsh had the time to get his eye in. The left-hander did not score a boundary until he had faced 15 balls, but once he had gauged the conditions, he upped the tempo. Marsh collected a boundary each in the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth overs, to race to 37 from 28 balls. At the half-way stage, KXIP were 81-1.
The second wicket pair continued to steadily accumulate runs for the next couple of overs. Amla brought up his half-century in the thirteenth over – needing 36 balls to get to the milestone, and the same stroke also raised the raised the 100 of the partnership. Soon after reaching his half-century, Amla signaled intent, hitting the leg-spinner Ankit Soni for a six over long-off.
The partnership was broken in the sixteenth over soon after Marsh (58) had brought up his half-century; the Australian made 58 and hit six boundaries in his 43-ball outing. The Lions might have sensed an opportunity to pull things back when the partnership was broken, but Amla did not allow the Lions bowlers to dictate terms. He collected 24 runs off the next seven balls he faced; he was particularly severe on Basil Thampi, who he hit for a six and two consecutive boundaries in the seventeenth over. In the final over of the innings, Amla reached three figures in style when he played an inside-out drive and deposited a Thampi delivery into the stands at cover.
Amla was dismissed the following delivery when he couldn’t put bat to an inswinging yorker and was trapped in front of the stumps; he made 104 and his 60-ball knock contained eight boundaries and five sixes. Glenn Maxwell’s 11-ball 20 – which contained two hits over the fence – was the only other notable score for KXIP.
Dhawan Kulkarni was the most impressive of the Lions bowlers; playing only his fifth match of the season, the pacer finished with respectable figures of 1-24. Sangwan and Thampi were the other wicket-takers. Faulkner’s four overs cost the Lions 43 runs.
Man of the Match: Dwayne Smith
Kings XI Punjab: 189-3 (Hashim Amla 104, Shaun Marsh 58) lost to
Gujarat Lions: 192-4 in 19.4 overs (Dwayne Smith 68, Suresh Raina 39, Dinesh Karthik 35*) by 6 wickets.