Finally, the Gujarat Lions let out a roar worthy of their pride. Led admirably by Suresh Raina who anchored the chase scoring 84, they beat Kolkata Knight Riders by four wickets here at Eden Gardens on Friday with 10 balls to spare. This was the Knights’ second loss and the Lions’ second win in six games. (KKR vs GL: T20 MATCH BLOG)
Like Kolkata Knight Riders, the Lions got off to a brisk start; Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum doing what Sunil Narine had done earlier in the evening. The Knights chipped away with wickets at regular intervals but Raina, the IPL’s most successful run-getter, took on everything the vaunted bowling attack had to offer and smothered them with an audacious display of stroke making. (KKR vs GL: T20 SCORECARD)
Till the 17th over, the Knights thought they had a chance but Raina hit Nathan Coulter-Nile for two fours on the off-side and a six over square-leg that tilted the scales in their favour. Raina and Ravindra Jadeja added 58 runs in the calm, assured manner expected of these two experienced T20 stars.
Kolkata Knight Riders scored 187/5 riding another early blast from Narine and handy contributions from Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey after being asked to bat.
It was Jadeja who ensured the Knights wouldn’t run away with the game, finishing with 4-0-31-0, his figures being marred by two fours in the last three deliveries of the spell.
That their biggest over came in the innings’ second when Narine took 17 off James Faulkner elucidates how the Knights couldn’t really change gears. They managed over 10 in only two overs after the sixth.
Uthappa’s innings had more panache than power. The way he glided Dhawal Kulkarni, James Faulkner and Jadeja for boundaries epitomised confidence and class in equal measure. He was dropped on six off Suresh Raina but had Finch completed that one-handed effort in the deep, it would have been in contention for the league’s best this season.
In terms of intensity, Narine and Finch’s innings were like the nor’wester that hit late on Friday. And like those showers accompanied by gusts of winds, it calmed the Eden. Gambhir, who contributed three to an opening stand of 45, and Uthappa eschewed risks to the point that it seemed like T20 on valium.
And yet at the end of the power play, Kolkata Knight Riders were 65/1, the highest in IPL10. The Lions replied with 72/1 after 6.
From the innings’ second ball, Narine started finding the boundary. Dealing only in fours and sixes, Narine made 42 off 17 balls.
He used the pace of Praveen Kumar and Faulkner to clear the in-field often after moving away to the leg-side. But Narine also played a sumptuous cover-drive and an off-drive that fetched fours in Faulkner’s first over.
Next over, Basil Thampi went for 14, including a six over his head but Narine was dismissed failing to clear Raina’s off-spin beyond Faulkner. Like Finch and McCullum’s innings, it was brief but an affair to remember.