Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina couldn’t have asked for a better performance to mark his 150th Indian Premier League match as his team pocketed their first win of the tournament on Friday, after two heavy defeats. (Highlights)
Suresh Raina’s bowlers restricted Rising Pune Supergiant to 171 for eight in 20 overs with Aussie pacer Andrew Tye’s brilliant show on his IPL debut, claiming 5/17 with a hattrick in the final over. (Scorecard)
Raina then remained unbeaten on 35 (22 balls) to steer his team to a magnificent seven-wicket win after Gujarat Lions openers Dwayne Smith (47 off 30 balls) and Brendon McCullum (32-ball 49) launched an explosive start and produced a 94-run partnership.
The big-hitting West Indian and the former New Zealand skipper were in destructive mood on Friday. Smith lodged the first ball he faced for four to square leg and then clobbered a four and six to take 16 runs off the opening over bowled by Ankit Sharma.
McCullum too found his aggressive mode when he whacked a slower ball from debutant Lockie Ferguson for six over long-off, off the fourth ball he faced. From there, the Gujarat Lions openers showed little mercy on the RPS bowlers, who have already come under pressure in this tournament.
RPS’ most successful bowler so far in the IPL, Imran Tahir, the No 1 spinner in T20 Internationals, was hammered for 15 and 20 runs off his first two overs, leaving skipper Steven Smith helpless.
The run riot came to halt, albeit for a brief while, when RPS dismissed the openers and Dinesh Karthik in the space of 25 balls.
However, Raina and Aaron Finch (33no, 19 balls) didn’t take unnecessary risk to see the team through with two overs to spare. Finch slammed two sixes to finish off the match in style.
The Australian pacer claimed the wickets of Ankit Sharma (25), Tiwary (31) and Shardul Thakur (0) in the first three balls of the final over in which he conceded only four runs to restrict RPS to 171/8 in 20 overs. Tye had earlier claimed the wickets of Rahul Tripathi and Ben Stokes, finishing with 4-0-17-5.
Ravindra Jadeja’s much-anticipated return to competitive cricket didn’t pan out as he would have expected. The India left-arm spinner was the second-most expensive Gujarat Lions bowler after Praveen Kumar (4-0-51-0), conceding 40 runs in four overs. However, Jadeja claimed the big wicket of the struggling Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wicket for five runs.
No end to Dhoni’s woes
MS Dhoni is perhaps experiencing his worst IPL performance as the ex-India skipper was once again dismissed for single digit. Dhoni was welcomed with vociferous chants as he arrived in the middle. His stay though did not last long after a straighter one from Jadeja beat Dhoni’s blade to hit his back leg.
Smith fires again
Steven Smith, who missed the last match due to stomach upset, top scored with 43 off 28 balls as the RPS skipper maintained his rich form in the tournament.
His teammate Manoj Tiwary (31 off 27 balls), who had missed the last match due to the death of his father, slammed some lusty blows towards the end.