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Local boy Raina shines as Lions thump KKR to stay in playoff race

Suresh Raina & Co didn’t disappoint the crowd and carved out a six-wicket win to stay at the second spot on the points table

ipl Updated: May 20, 2016 01:32 IST
Suresh Raina,IPL9,Gujarat Lions
Gujarat Lions’ skipper Suresh Raina led from the front at the team’s new home ground in Kanpur. The Lions won by six wickets against Knight Riders.(PTI Photo)

Probably, it was the first time when fans fought with cops at almost every gate of the Green Park Stadium. They were chased from one gate to another but didn’t give up and some of them even managed to enter the venue, especially at the directorate pavilion’s gate. Such was the passion on Thursday.

The stadium with a capacity of 33,000 was overcrowded and many with valid tickets or passes, given to them by the host franchise Gujarat Lions, were denied entry as there was no place to sit. Fans even went asking the cheer girls for autographs after being denied selfies.

Local boy Suresh Raina & Co didn’t disappoint and carved out a six-wicket win to stay at the second spot on the points table. The win was also their second in as many games against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Leading from the front, skipper Raina not only became the highest run-getter in the IPL’s nine-year history, he is the second player to complete 4000 runs in this format after RCB skipper Virat Kohli.

Raina’s 36-ball unbeaten 53, his second half-century of the season, made things look easy for the Lions as they crossed the target in the 14th over. Raina completed the formality by taking a single off Morne Morkel.

Ankit Rajpoot dashed Lions’ hopes of a good start, forcing opener Dwayne Smith to offer a regulation catch to Robin Uthappa behind the wicket off the first ball. The big-hitting Brendon McCullum fell prey to a Sunil Narine straight one in the second over. But that did little to curb the run flow as the scoreboard was kept ticking.

With a good covering of grass on the surface, Raina chose to field and this proved vital. While Praveen Kumar swung the ball in his first two overs before leaving the field after sustaining a minor injury, Smith hit the deck to test the KKR batsmen. His four for eight was good enough to restrict the rivals to 124 for eight, their lowest total so far this season while batting first.

Barring Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan, none of the other KKR batsmen could come good on a surface where the ball kicked after hitting the deck. Uthappa’s 19-ball 25, containing three fours and a six, and Pathan’s run-a-ball 36, also studded with three fours and a six, entertained the jam-packed stands.

In fact, runs were hard to come by for most KKR batsmen, who failed to find the gaps.

First Published: May 19, 2016 23:53 IST