Kanpur | Dwayne Smith starred with the ball before Suresh Raina struck a sublime half century to guide Gujarat Lions to a six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders, taking them closer to a spot in the play-offs of the Indian Premier League here Thursday.
A timely 59-run run stand between Suresh Raina (53 not out of 36 balls) and Aaron Finch (26) secured the game for Lions after Smith put a stellar show with the ball, ending with career best T20 figures of four for eight.
Lions eventually raced home in 13.3 overs after restricting to KKR to 124/8 at the Green Park Stadium, which hosted its first ever IPL game.
With the win, Lions leaped to second place in the points table having gained 16 points from 13 matches. KKR remained in the play-offs hunt despite the loss and are fourth in the standings with 14 points from 13 matches. Both teams have one match left to play.
The modest chase was going to be a tricky one under the conditions.
The Lions lost their star bowler on the day, Smith, after he got an inside edge to the keeper while attempting a pull on the first ball of the innings. Pacer Ankit Rajpoot provided the important breakthrough.
The other dangerous opener Brendon McCullum too did not hang around for long after hitting a six. Morne Morkel went through the gate of Dinesh Karthik to have Lions in a spot of bother at 38 for three in the fourth over.
What worked well for Lions was that they maintained a healthy run rate even as they lost quick wickets. The experienced Raina, who returned to action following the birth of child, steadied the ship alongside Finch.
With run rate pressure not there, the two batted sensibly to take the team at the doorstep of victory. Finch was unlucky to be run out after he collided with Raina as the pair attempted a third run.
Raina’s effort included a straight six off Morkel and seven delightful boundaries. He also went past 4000 runs in the IPL, becoming the second one to do so after Virat Kohli.
Earlier, Smith turned out to be almost unplayable for KKR batsmen after Raina put the opposition on a greenish track.
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