Gujarat Lions rode on some powerful batting to defeat Kings XI Punjab by six wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Sunday evening. Chasing a challenging target of 190 runs, Gujarat romped home with two deliveries to spare. Gujarat now have eight points from 12 matches, while Punjab remain on 10 points from 11 matches.
Dwayne Smith played a starring role for Gujarat, smashing 74 runs off a mere 39 deliveries, hitting eight boundaries and four towering sixes along the way. Smith and fellow Ishan Kishan gave Gujarat’s chase a rocking start, producing a opening partnership of 91 runs in just 9.2 overs before Punjab pacer Thangarasu Natarajan ended it as Kishan hit a full length delivery into the hands of David Miller at deep midwicket. Smith followed him back to the pavilion a couple of overs later when he was dismissed by Glenn Maxwell.
Skipper Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthick then helped Gujarat get near the target with a 42-run stand which came off 35 balls before the former was caught by Gurkeerat Singh wide of deep midwicket while trying to smash a Sandeep Sharma delivery out of the park. Aaron Finch was also dismissed later in the same over when he offerred an edge to Punjab wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha while attempting to pull a bouncer. But Karthick and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that Gujarat achieved in the last over.
Earlier, a century from Hashim Amla and a half-century by Shaun Marsh helped Kings XI Punjab post 189/3. Amla plundered 104 runs off 60 balls with eight boundaries and five sixes before being trapped lbw by an accurate yorker from Gujarat pacer Basil Thampi on the penultimate ball of the innings. This was his second hundred in the IPL. Amla was also involved two crucial partnerships with Marsh and Maxwell. Marsh made 58 runs with six boundaries studding his 43-ball knock. Gujarat pacers Thampi, Pradeep Sangwan and Dhawal Kulkarni picked up a wicket each.
Asked to bat first, Punjab were off to a slow start as Gujarat pacers Sangwan and Kulkarni maintained a tight line. Sangwan struck in the very first over with a chest high-short ball to Gujarat opener Martin Guptill on the off stump line. The Kiwi star tried to hook the ball but only managed to offer a top edge to Thampi at long leg. However, Amla and Marsh helped the hosts shake off the early jitters and steadied the innings with a 125-run partnership in 89-balls. Amla batted well, showcasing his impeccable technique to find the gaps at regular intervals.
Kulkarni finally brought the stand to an end, dismissing Marsh with a slower delivery. The Australian was outfoxed by the change of pace and miscued his shot with Aaron Finch doing the honours at long on.
Marsh’s departure prompted Amla to go on the offensive and the South African star hit two sixes off consecutive overs. Known for his classical technical batting, Amla also showcased his ability to improvise. Thanks to big hitting Amla and excellent support from the other end by Maxwell, the Punjab run rate showed no signs of slowing down. The duo added 50 runs between them off 25 balls with Amla doing most of the scoring.
The 34-year-old reached his century in style, smashing Thampi for a six over the cover boundary. However, Thampi made a superb comeback, pitching an accurate yorker right in the block hole to trap Amla leg before. Maxwell remained unbeaten on 20 runs off 11 deliveries which included two sixes.