Aaron Finch had a subdued World T20 by his standards. Known for big hits, the Aussie has a highest score of 156 in T20s but in the WT20 his highest was 43 against India at this ground.
On Monday, with his side chasing 162 for victory, Finch brought his A-game for IPL newcomers Gujarat Lions, playing a match-winning 74 to guide them to an easy win. While it was an ideal start for the Lions and skipper Suresh Raina, the signs look ominous for Kings XI and skipper David Miller as the side threw away a good start and later the bowlers failed to curtail runs.
The Kings XI bowlers had a bright start as they removed the dangerous Brendon McCullum for naught, but Finch and Raina rebuild the innings with a 51-run partnership. Finch got the momentum going by carting fellow Aussie Mitchell Johnson for two fours in the second over.
Thereafter, there were all proper cricketing shots as Finch hammered 74 off 47 balls, including 12 hits to the fence. Raina played a cameo of 20, while Dinesh Karthik, who was involved in a 61-run partnership with Finch, played sensibly to remain unbeaten on 41 off 26 balls.
Falter after great start
Kings XI enthralled but then faltered after a rousing start by openers Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra. Vijay, who was below par last year for Kings XI, hit the ground running by managing some lusty hits to all parts of the ground. He took on Pradeep Sangwan by carting the young left-arm pacer to a four and six in the second over.
At the other end, Vohra took time to settle down but then tore into James Faulkner, hitting the Aussie pacer for three fours. Batting on 8, Vohra was given a life when Bravo spilled a catch. The duo raised 52 in six overs and it looked Kings XI were set to score in excess of 180. It took the combination of Bravo and Jadeja to rein in the batsmen. Introduced in the seventh over, Jadeja accounted for Vohra (38) and Vijay (42) in the space of 13 runs to peg KXIP back.
At the other end, Bravo struck twice with well-directed yorkers to remove Miller and Glenn Maxwell in the space of a run to reduce Kings XI to 102 for four. Towards the end, IPL debutant Marcus Stoinis and Wriddhiman Saha played cameos of 20 and 33 to ensure the side crossed the 150-run mark.
The Lions’ bowlers conceded just 47 runs in the last five overs with Bravo striking twice in which he removed Saha and Stoinis off consecutive deliveries.