Suresh Raina, after missing Gujarat Lions' last game, returned to roaring form and helped his team to a thumping six-wicket win with 39 balls remaining over Kolkata Knight Riders at Kanpur on Thursday.
The win helped the Lions take a giant stride towards booking a play-offs spot for the new team in its first season.
Lions' chase was made easy by an unlikely force, Dwayne Smith. The West Indian's figures of 4-0-8-4 was one of the best. And it was pivotal to Lions' restricting Knight Riders to 124.
Then, Raina played a captain knock (53*) to chase down the paltry total without much ado. Yes, the start to the chase had a dramatic tone with local boy Ankit Rajpoot taking a wicket, that of bowling hero Smith, off the very first ball.
But Kanpur today belonged to the Lions, their home team. The city also became the 33rd IPL venue, 22nd in India.
The match was also witnessed by a hosts of dignitaries, as usual. But it was special for IPL to have a technocrat Tim Cook, who took the IPL bow at Green Park.
With the win, Lions have moved up to the second spot on the IPL points table. Knight Riders are now fourth, and both teams have only one match each to play.
GUJARAT LIONS INNINGS; TARGET 125
Over 13.3 || Score 125/4 (Raina 53; Jadeja 11)
A four to start the over, then a two singles to complete a thumping win for Gujarat Lions. Six wicket and 39 balls!
Morne Morkel's figures: 3.3-0-39-1.
Gujarat Lions now in second on points table.
Over 13 || Score 119/4 (Raina 52; Jadeja 6)
Bowling change, and Yuuf Pathan conceded six runs with two singles and a four. That four off the fourth ball, an inside out lofted shot, marked the fifty for Suresh Raina.
Gujarat Lions need another 6 runs required from 42 balls.
Over 12 || Score 113/4 (Raina 47; Jadeja 5)
Sunil Narine ended his spell with a tidy over. Six runs. from it. His figures: 4-0-30-1. Not a good day for the mystery bowler.
Gujarat Lions need another 12 runs from 48 balls.
Over 11 || Score 107/4 (Raina 45; Jadeja 1)
Another 10-run over for Gujarat Lions as skipper Suresh Raina continued with his attacking game.
Back-to-back fours to end the over. Jason Holder started well for his second over, with two singles off the first four balls.
But those two fours spoilt the figures.
Gujarat Lions need another 18 runs from 54 balls.
Over 10 || Score 97/4 (Raina 36; Jadeja 0)
Suresh Raina and Aaron Finch just completed a good 50-run stand off 34 balls, then ran into each other on the third turn off the penultimate ball. And easy run out for Kolkata Knight Rider.
WICKET: Aaron Finch run out 26 (23b)
Still six runs from the over, mainly thanks to a well-timed six over cover from the blade of Finch, which brought up their 50-run partnership.
Ravindra Jadeja is the new man.
Sunil Narine figures so far: 3-0-24-1.
Over 9 || Score 87/3 (Raina 34; Finch 19)
Bowling change, finally, from Gautam Gambhir. Jason Holder, the like for like replacement for injured Andre Russell, on.
Good start from the West Indian all-rounder, only four runs from the over.
Gujarat Lions need another 38 runs from 11 overs.
Over 8 || Score 83/3 (Raina 33; Finch 17)
Morne Morkel continued with his third over. Good start to the over with a single and two dot balls, then...
Aaron Finch took a measure of Morkel and hit the fourth ball for a six over long-on.
A single, then a mysteriously crafted shot for a four.
Finch half-pulled, half-hooked a short delivery, but the ball deflected of the back of the bat thanks to a deceptively slower ball and went over fine leg fielder, beating the chasing fielder to the boundary.
12 runs from the over.
Over 7 || Score 71/3 (Raina 28; Finch 10)
Kanpur's own Ankit Rajpoot blowing hot and cold. 16 runs from the over, which also included a four, and five wides.
A single to Suresh Raina to start the over, then a double to Aaron Finch. A wide down the leg, then a single. It was followed by another wide, then five wides down the leg.
It was followed by a four through the slip cordon. A single and a dot.
Rajpoot's figures so far: 3-0-35-1.
Over 6 || Score 55/3 (Raina 22; Finch 7)
A six to start the over, and Suresh Raina also crosses 4000 IPL run. It was Virat Kohli yesterday, who got there first. Raina missed a game, and he's hungry.
Three singles, and wide to make it a 10-run over.
Gujarat Lions need another 70 runs from 14 overs.
Over 5 || Score 45/3 (Raina 14; Finch 6)
Good over from Sunil Narine. A dot ball to Aaron Finch the start the over, then a four behind point.
Narine did well to give away two more singles for a six-run over.
Over 4 || Score 39/3 (Raina 13; Finch 1)
That;s cricket, IPL cricket. Two brilliant fours from Dinesh Karthik and it looked like he had complete control.
Then, a beauty of in-cutter from Morne Morkel to uproot Karthik's wickets.
WICKET: Dinesh Karthik b Morne Morkel 12 (8b)
Aaron Finch is the new man. 11 runs and wicket from the over.
Over 3 || Score 28/2 (Raina 13; Karthik 2)
Lions skipper Suresh Raina continued playing his usual attacking game despite the lose his openers early.
A dot ball, then a four over cover. Inside-out. Classic.
A double followed, then a leg bye. A single to end the over.
Thus Ankit Rajpoot leaked eight runs from his second over.
Gujarat Lions need another 97 runs from 17 overs.
Over 2 || Score 20/2 (Raina 7; Karthik 1)
Game on in Kanpur! Sunil Narine leaked eight runs, but got the big wicket of Brendon McCullum. Trapped.
WICKET: Brendon McCullum lbw b Sunil Narine 6 (3b)
Dinesh Karthik is the new man.
Over 1 || Score 12/1 (McCullum 6; Raina 5)
Kanpur's own Ankit Rajpoot provided the perfect start to Kolkata Knight Riders, in their defence of a low total.
The right-arm medium pacer removed Gujarat Lions bowling hero Dwayne Smith first ball, with Robin Uthappa doing a bit of jugglery to complete the caught behind.
WICKET: Dwayne Smith c Robin Uthappa b Ankit Rajpoot 0 (1b)
Suresh Raina, the new man, took a dot ball before hitting his state-mate for a four through mid-wicket.
A single, the Brendon McCullum hit a towering six. A wide, and 12 runs from the over.
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KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS INNINGS
Over 20 || Score 124/8 (Narine 2; Morkel 1)
Dwayne Bravo produced a tidy final over, and some champion act too. He sent off Jason Holder with his signature champion move.
A slower delivery, and Holder failed to time his lofted shot. Hold out at extra cover.
WICKET: Jason Holder c Aaron Finch b Dwayne Bravo 13 (8b)
Four runs from the over.
Over 19 || Score 120/7 (Holder 12; Narine 0)
After a good over, Kolkata Knight Riders lost Yusuf Pathan to yet another soft dismissal.
WICKET: Yusuf Pathan c Suresh Raina b Dhawal Kulkarni 36 (36b)
Kulkarni completed his spell, for figures of 4-0-34-1.
In the previous over, Dwayne Bravo leaked 13 runs with Jason Holder hitting him for a four and a six.
Over 17 || Score 103/6 (Pathan 31; Holder 1)
Two 10-run overs for KKR in Kanpur as the two-time IPL champions looked for a late flourish. Seeking quick runs, Surya Kumar Yadav ended his innings, caught at fine leg boundary.
WICKET: Surya Kumar Yadav c Dhawal Kulkarni b Shadab Jakati 17 (14b)
Jakati ended his spell today, for figures of 4-0-22-1.
Jason Holder is the new man.
Over 16 || Score 93/5 (Pathan 29; Yadav 10)
In the last four overs, Kolkata Knight Riders have steadied the innings thanks to Yusf Pathan. He and Surya Kumar Yadav have faced Gujarat Lions bowlers' onslaught, scoring 38 runs.
In between, Dwayne Smith have completed his spell for figures of 4-0-8-4.
Over 11 || Score 55/4 (Pathan 6; Al Hasan 2)
Shadab Jakati returned for his second over, and leaked four runs.
This is the fifth over without a boundary for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Over 10 || Score 55/4 (Pathan 5; Al Hasan 0)
Dwayne Smith on song.
A single to Yusuf Pathan to start his third over, then clean-bowled Piyush Chawla, ending the KKR batsman's misery in the centre. No foot-work, no clue. Stood there, and was bowled.
WICKET: Piyush Chawla b Dwayne Smith 11 (16b)
One run and a wicket from the over. Shakib Al Hasan is the new man.
Over 9 || Score 54/3 (Chawla 11; Pathan 4)
Double bowling change. Spinner Shadab Jakati on. Four singles and a leg bye for a five-run over.
Lions have taken complete control over Knight Riders at Kanpur.
Piyush Chawla and Yusuf Pathan have added 10 runs 16 balls.
Over 8 || Score 49/3 (Chawla 9; Pathan 2)
Another bowling change from Gujarat Lions. Dwayne Bravo on. And another tidy over. Only two singles from it. In the last five overs, Lions have conceded 26 runs taking three wickets. Brilliant period for the home side.
In between, Piyush Chawla has consumed 13 balls for his nine runs.
Over 7 || Score 47/3 (Chawla 8; Pathan 1)
Dwayne Smith again. His slow medium pace deliveries have created enough havoc.
A dot to Robin Uthappa to start the over. Then, the wicket. A hint of bounce, and some movement. Uthappa wanted to guide pass the third man, but ended up offering an easy catch to wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik.
WICKET: Robin Uthappa c Dinesh Karthik b Dwayne Smith 25 (19b)
Yusuf Pathan is the new man, and three runs from the over.
Over 6 || Score 44/2 (Uthappa 25; Chawla 7)
Last ball of the power-play was hit for a four by Piyush Chawla. Other than that, that was as a tidy over from Dhawal Kulkarni. Eight runs in total from the over.
Over 5 || Score 36/2 (Uthappa 23; Chawla 2)
Bowling change for Gujarat Lions, and Dwayne Smith struck.
A dot ball to Manish Pandey, then a gentle nudge. Catching practice for Suresh Raina at first slip. What was Pnadey doing?
WICKET: Manish Pandey c Suresh Raina b Dwayne Smith 1 (3b)
Tidy over from the West Indian. Two runs and a wicket. New man Piyush Chawla failed to do justice to his promotion, as yet. Was beaten by pace, couple of times.
Over 4 || Score 34/1 (Uthappa 23; Pandey 1)
Brilliant stop, and bulls eye to send back Gautam Gambhir. Run out. Shadab Jakati, at mid-wicket, dived full-length to his left and hit the target on non-striker's end. A slip from Robin Uthappa might have contributed to a little stop, but that was a run-out, any day.
WICKET: Gautam Gambhir run out 8 (8b)
That happened off the first ball of the over, but Uthappa continued playing his game.
Hit a four and a four off the fourth and sixth ball respectively. 11 runs from Dhawal Kulkarni's second over.
Over 3 || Score 23/0 (Uthappa 13; Gambhir 8)
A wide, then another wide. The second was a harsh call, though. On the tram-line.
Then, a well-timed punch/ flick from Robin Uthappa for his second four. Brilliant timing again. Lions skipper Suresh Raina had a futile chase. It was followed by a straight drive, and Gautam Gambhir just made ground by miliseconds from backing-up. Good reflections from Praveen Kumar for his deflection.
Then, a superb stop from Brendon McCullum to deny Uthappa a four. A dot ball, the another drop. Gambhir got a thick edge and Dwayne Smith, at first slip had his hands on the ball, but failed to take the catch.
Nine runs from the over.
And Praveen Kumar left the field. Injured?
Over 2 || Score 14/0 (Uthappa 7; Gambhir 7)
Two slips for Robin Uthappa, and the first ball from Dhawal Kulkarni on the off-stump. Uthappa came forward, and punched through cover. Timing beat the fielder to the fence.
A dot ball followed, and a quick single as the ball raced to mid-on fielder.
Slips still in place, and a dot ball to Gautam Gambhir. Next ball, Gambhir lofted straight for a four. Then a drop.
Praveen Kumar at extra cover waited, and the ball fell behind him, just beyond his reach. Two runs, and 11 from the over.
Over 1 || Score 3/0 (Uthappa 2; Gambhir 1)
An (over)enthusiastic Praveen Kumar started the proceedings with a dot ball to Robin Uthappa, and still plenty of grass in Kanpur.
A single off the second ball, with Uthappa playing down the third man. Ball moving.
Slips on either side, for Gautam Gambhir. And a dot ball, then a single. Good running between the wickets continued, with a single more. Superb understanding between the KKR openers.
A dot to end the over.
Playing XIs are out:
Kolkata Knight Riders: Robin Uthappa (wk), Gautam Gambhir (capt.), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Jason Holder, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Ankit Rajpoot, Morne Morkel
Gujarat Lions: Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina(capt.), Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Eklavya Dwivedi, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shadab Jakati
Today, Test cricket returns. And Dasun Shanaka — debutant Sri Lankan pacer took three wickets in his first three wickets, which also included two maiden overs. In fact, his figures was 3-1 after first 14 balls.
His first victim, England captain Alastair Cook, was out 20 runs shy of breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record of youngest batsman to score 10000 Test runs.
Lions warming up a while ago
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) May 19, 2016
TOSS: Suresh Raina wins toss, and Gujarat Lions will bowl first against Kolkata Knight Riders.
One interesting trivia, Kanpur today becomes 33rd IPL venue — yes, the cash-rich league has had forays in South Africa and Middle East. And 22nd Indian IPL venue.
Four teams are on 14 points, behind leaders Sunrisers Hyderbad (16). Here's the TABLE.
A win today and KKR will confirm their last-four spot.
But GL will need to win today, and also their last match against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, which is likely to be virtual quarter-final, so to say.
Umpires: Anil Chaudhary and Nandan
Third Umpire: Anil Dandekar
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama
Reserve Umpire: Rohan Pandit
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt.), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Ankit Rajpoot, Morne Morkel, Chris Lynn, Colin Munro, Brad Hogg, Shaun Tait, Jason Holder, Umesh Yadav, Sheldon Jackson, Jaydev Unadkat and Rajagopal Sathish.
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (capt.), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Dale Steyn, James Faulkner, Ishan Kishan, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik, Dwayne Bravo, Sarabjit Ladda, Amit Mishra, Akashdeep Nath, Paras Dogra, Eklavya Dwivedi, Shadab Jakati, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Umang Sharma, Pravin Tambe, Andrew Tye.
PREVIEW: After Virat Kohli-induced huge win for Royal Challengers Bangalore's over Kings XI Punjab, the Indian Premier League table has seen a considerable change in standing.
RCB with 14 points are second, behind Sunrisers Hyderabad (16). Interestingly, there are three more teams with 14 points each — all fighting for a play-off spot. Yes, Delhi Daredevils are still contention even though they have 12 points.
Two of those three teams are — Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders — are taking on each other today, at Kanpur's historic Green Park stadium.
Lions will play hosts to Kinght Riders, knowing well enough that a defeat today will spoilt their bid to play in the play-offs. They are inferior in net run-rate, and relatively inexperience as a team.
The return of skipper Suresh Raina will bolster their chances, considering how the India all-rounder's fear-less brand of cricket.
Once again, it will be huge ask for the new team to take on the probably the most consistent IPl team. The two-time champions from Kolkata has a well-balanced team, despite their evident lack on on star-power, as against the Lions.
But under Gautam Gambhir and a stable back-room staff, KKR have managed to churn out title winning consistency season after season. Meaning, they do well in crunch, must win situations.
Having said that, a great team like KKR will have it tough against Raina's men.
Brace for a classic Twenty20 clash in Kanpur, as two teams fight it to stay alive for a shot in last four finish.
Welcome to our live coverage of the Match 51 of 2016 Indian Premier League between Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders, being played at Green Park, Kanpur.