New Delhi: The match-up between struggling Rising Pune Supergiants and table toppers Gujarat Lions proved to be a classic with the result coming in the last ball of the match.
The second reverse fixture of the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) produced a centurion, but he ended on the losing side. Just like Virat Kohli's ton, Steven Smith ended on the losing side, as Lions once again produced a scintillating chase to a massive chase.
Suresh Raina won the toss and asked MS Dhoni & co. to bat first in Pune. A 100-run second-wicket stand between Smith and Ajinkya Rahane — who himself made 53 off 45 — helped Supergiants post 195/3. Skipper MS Dhoni himself got a good outing hitting two sixes and two fours in his 18-ball innings for unbeaten 30.
In the absence of injured Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni promoted his Jharkhand state-mate Saurabh Tiwary. But the move failed to materialize as Tiwary departed early, in the third over. Aussie batsman Peter Handscomb, who replaced injured du Plessis, played his first IPL match but failed to bat.
Another player who was making his IPL debut was Lions's Shivil Kaushik. And like Handscomb, Kaushik — the left-arm unorthodox spinner who bowls like former South African spinner Paul Adams — failed to impress. He did bowled Smith but the front-foot no-ball meant that his joy was limited to minutes.
The chase from the Lions started on a rollicking way, as expected from the duo of Dwayne Smith (63 off 37) and Brendon McCullum (43 off 22). They posted an opening stand of 93 inside nine overs.
Then, Suresh Raina batted calmly for his 34 off 28 balls. He, along with Dinesh Karthik (33 off 20) post a 50-run stand.
But, towards the end, they hit road bumps as Dwayne Bravo (7 0ff 6), Ravindra Jadeja and Ishan Kishan returned to the hut in quick succession.
Birthday-boy James Faulkner, however, hit the winning single off the last ball.
The over, bowled by Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera witnessed drama galore as the batting side lost two wickets.
Needing nine runs from the last over, Perera stared with a low, juicy full toss to Faulkner, who hit over mid-wicket for a four.
Then the drama ensued, including a throw from Ajinkya Rahane which incite MS Dhoni as it landed in the middle of the wicket. Probably, Rahane was in two minds as both the batsmen were running and yet to reach safety.
That was off the penultimate delivery, and cost two runs. A decisive moment, probably.
Talking about fielding, the very previous over, Saurabh Tiwary hits bullseye form mid-on to send back India U-19 captain Kishan.
Nothing much to talk about bowlers on a day which was earmarked for batsmen. But Murugan Ashwin deserves special mention for his brave spell. His figures, sans a wicket, for 3-0-22-0 was good.
Interestingly, three bowlers posted similar figures. Praveen Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravindra Ashwin — all going for 37 runs without a wicket from their four over spells respectively.
Thanks to the win, Lions continue to sit pretty at the top of the table with 12 points from six wins in seven outings. For Pune, it was their fifth defeat, and are still sixth, ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab. But both the teams have played lesser matches.