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IPL 9: Dhoni's Supergiants beaten as Raina's Lions roar at Rajkot

Rajkot: Suresh Raina's Gujarat Lions registered an impressive seven-wicket win against MS Dhoni's Rising Pune Supergiants at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium last night in their first IPL-9 match on home turf.

Gujarat Lions Brendon McCullum (L) watched by Rising Pune Supergiants captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League(IPL) match at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday.
Gujarat Lions Brendon McCullum (L) watched by Rising Pune Supergiants captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League(IPL) match at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday.

Gujarat openers Aaron Finch (36-ball 50 with 7x4s & 2x6s) and Brendon McCullum (31-ball 49 with 3x4 & 3x6s) began brilliantly and consequently took the game away from Dhoni's men, who earlier failed to make the most of winning the toss and putting themselves in on a batting-friendly pitch.

Skipper Raina (24 off 24 balls) and Dwayne Bravo (22 off 10 balls) were the other chief contributors with the bat as the home side won in 18 overs. Spinner Murugan Ashwin with 2-31 was the pick of the lot from a mostly unsuccessful Pune attack. Earlier, Supergiants scored 163 for five in 20 overs.

Tambe's turn
Though Ajinkya Rahane did not last long, it was he who set the pace of scoring, making 21 off 17 balls with four fours before the ageless Pravin Tambe flummoxed him in front of the wicket. By then the platform was ready for Kevin Pietersen to play a long overdue characteristic aggressive innings.

Pietersen found an ideal partner in Faf du Plessis, who was already in his element when Pietersen arrived at the wicket. The two batted with gay abandon and executed a wide range of shots all round the wicket. No bowler save Tambe was able to make any impact on the duo as the Supergiants reached 100 in only 11.5 overs.

Gujarat Lions' Dwayne Bravo (L) reacts after taking the wicket of Rising Pune Supergiants' Kevin Pietersen during the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday. Pic/AFP
Gujarat Lions' Dwayne Bravo (L) reacts after taking the wicket of Rising Pune Supergiants' Kevin Pietersen during the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday. Pic/AFP

Du Plessis was more aggressive of the two. The South African completed his 50 in 33 balls with four fours and three sixes. Pietersen looked set to play a big innings when Dwayne Bravo bowled him with his customary slower ball for 37 (31 balls, 2 fours, 1 six). The two added 86 runs for the crucial second wicket in 10.1 overs.

Pietersen's dismissal seemed to disturb the rhythm of Du Plessis, who was going great guns till then, stepped out a bit too much against the clever Tambe only to be stumped by Dinesh Karthik for an enterprising 69 (43 balls, five fours, four sixes). The two quick wickets revitalised Gujarat Lions, particularly Ravindra Jadeja, who immediately struck and had the always dangerous-looking Steven Smith caught by James Faulkner for 5.

Jadeja delivers
The Supergiants were 141 for 4 after 18 overs and much depended on Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mitchell Marsh to lend some respectability to the score. But Jadeja different ideas. He dealt a crushing blow to the Supergiants' aspirations when he bowled the Aussie for seven. Jadeja, finished with impressive figures of 4-0-18-2.

However, Dhoni tried his best, and might, and hammered Bravo for 20 runs in the 20th over to take his team's eventual total to 163 for 5. But for his lusty blows, the Supergiants would probably not have reached even 150. He remained unconquered on 22 (10 balls, 2 fours, 1 six).

Brief Scores:

Rising Pune Supergiants: 163 for five in 20 overs (Faf du 
Plessis 69, Kevin Pietersen 37, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 22 not
out; Ravindra Jadeja 2/18). Gujarat Lions: 164 for three in 18 overs (Aaron Finch 50, Brendon McCullum 49; Murugan Ashwin 2/31).

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