Skipper Suresh Raina conjured up a tenacious rearguard action to lead Gujarat Lions to a four-wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in an Indian Premier League game at the Eden Gardens on Friday
Gujarat Lions celebrate after their skipper Suresh Raina dismissed KKR batsman Sunil Narine in Kolkata on Friday. Pic/PTI
Suresh Raina played a captain's knock to guide struggling Gujarat Lions to a comprehensive four-wicket win over two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League match, here today.
Chasing a challenging 188-run target set by KKR, Raina led from the front with a blistering 46-ball 84-run knock to set the platform for the much-needed win for Gujarat Lions.
Coming on to bat at the no. 3 position, Raina took the attack to the opposition bowlers and decorated his innings with nine boundaries and four sixes to steer Gujarat Lions chase.
He was ably supported by Brendon McCullum (33) and Aaron Finch (31) who stitched 42 runs off just 21 balls for the opening stand to get Gujarat Lions' chase off to a flier.
Down the order, Ravindra Jadeja remained unbeaten on 19 to finish off the proceedings for Gujarat Lions with a boundary in 18.2 overs.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav (2/33) Nathan Coulter-Nile (2/41) picked up two wickets apiece for KKR.
Suresh Raina during his match-winning knock against KKR at Eden Gardens on Friday. Pic/PTI
Earlier, a brilliant Robin Uthappa slammed his second half-century of the tournament while Sunil Narine played a cameo at the top as Kolkata Knight Riders toyed with Gujarat Lions lacklustre attack to post a commanding 187 for five.
It was raining boundaries and sixes at Eden Gardens with Narine using his long handle to great effect. Narine played 42-run cameo knock that came off just 17 balls as he and skipper Gautam Gambhir put together quickfire 45 runs off 20 balls for the opening stand to get KKR off to a blazing start.
After Narine's departure, Uthappa, in his 50th appearance for KKR, made a feast of the lacklustre Gujarat Lions attack and smashed 72 runs in 47 balls with the help of eight fours and two sixes to post his second half-ton of the season and 19th overall in IPL.
Dropped on six by Aaron Finch at long on, Uthappa put together 69 runs off 49 balls with Gambhir (33 from 28 balls; 2x4s, 1x6).
It was yet another insipid bowling display by Gujarat Lions as Raina (1/11) looked lack of resources and was forced to bowl two overs.
KKR had routed Gujarat Lions by 10 wickets in the first leg match in Rajkot with Chris Lynn and Gambhir putting on a T20 record opening stand of 184.
Narine, the makeshift KKR opener, dealt only in boundaries en route to a blistering 42 from 17 balls (9x4s, 1x6) -- an IPL highest score only in boundaries, bettering Sanath Jayasuriya's 36 (6x4s, 2x6s).
Narine had shown his big-hitting skills as an opener in his T20 career-best 37 against Kings XI Punjab earlier in the tournament and today he got past that mark with another blistering knock.
He swung his bat to every ball and the Gujarat Lions new ball attack of Praveen Kumar and James Faulkner was found wanting. Narine began his assault with three boundaries in Praveen Kumar's first over that yielded 12 runs, and then he hammered four boundaries, three of them on succession, off Faulkner's next over.
Looking for some respite, Raina brought on Basil Thampi who's known for bowling consistent yorkers. But the Kerala speedster too failed to arrest Narine's run flow as hit him for two fours and one six to take KKR to 44 after three overs.
A desperate Raina brought himself in the fourth over, a move that finally worked as Narine failed to clear the in-field this time giving a straight forward catch to Faulkner at midwicket.
The spectacular start meant KKR raced to 65 for one in the powerplay as Gambhir and Uthappa built the innings from there on.
Gambhir mistimed a pull shot and the top edge ballooned up in the sky before Raina completed the catch but Uthappa stayed on to bring up his second fifty of the season in 35 balls.