IPL 2016: All-round Gujarat topple KKR to regain top spot

IPL 2016: All-round Gujarat topple KKR to regain top spot

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Image Courtesy: © IPL

An all-round performance by Gujarat Lions helped them defeat Kolkata Knight Riders by 5 wickets at Kolkata on Sunday and return to the top of the table. Earlier, after losing 4 wickets in the powerplay, the home side posted 158 on the back of a partnership between Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan.

Brief Scores: KKR 158/4 in 20 overs (Shakib 66*(49), Yusuf 63*(41), Praveen Kumar 2/19) lost to GL 164/5 in 18/20 overs (Karthik 51(29), Finch 29(10), Hogg 1/19) by 5 wickets

In the top-of-the-table clash at the Eden Gardens, second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders took on third-placed Gujarat Lions in a bid to take back the top spot, which they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad after their win earlier in the evening. The home side retained the same XI that defeated Kings XI Punjab in the last match, while Gujarat Lions made one change to the team after suffering three defeats on the trot. Leggie Praveen Tambe came into the XI in place of left-arm pacer Pradeep Sangwan, who gave away 28 runs in two overs in the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The Lions skipper Suresh Raina won the toss and he decided to bowl first on the night.

A horrific start for the home team

The opening partnership between Robin Uthappa and Gautham Gambhir has been the greatest strength for the two-time champions. Four half-century stands and a century partnership have arrived between the two in the nine matches so far this season, but today they failed to add to that.

Praveen Kumar struck first in the third over by removing KKR skipper Gambhir. The southpaw's attempt to glance the ball down the leg found him deflecting the ball into the stumps off his thigh pads. Manish Pandey lasted just two balls as he also fell to Praveen Kumar by giving Dinesh Karthik an easy catch behind the stumps. The procession to the pavilion wasn’t finished as Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav also joined the predecessors to leave the side reeling at 24/4. A partnership was the need of the hour, and it was delivered by Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan.

(Take a look at how Twitter reacted to Raina's outstanding catch and Gujarat's easy win over Kolkata)

Shakib and Yusuf’s rescue act

Just 28 runs came in the powerplay as KKR looked down and out of the match. Although four top-order batsmen returned to the pavilion without giving much trouble to the scorers, Shakib and Yusuf were still in the middle. They started slowly by taking singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. But mystery spinner Shivil Kaushik’s introduction in the 10th over broke the shackles for the home team. Yusuf took a liking to the youngster and smashed him for a six and a four in back-to-back balls to up the ante.

Only 57 runs were made in the first ten overs, but Yusuf and Shakib scored 101 runs in the next ten to take the team to a fighting total. The 134-run stand between the two also saw both Yusuf and Shakib scoring fifties. The duo threw the kitchen sink at everything and scored 60 runs in the last five to finish on a high at 158/4.

Smith and McCullum put Gujarat on top

Unlike the Kolkata side, who lost four wickets for 24 runs, Gujarat had a steady start with Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum producing a 42-run opening stand. They started cautiously with just one run coming in the opening over from Andre Russell. The duo, who struggled against the swing of Bhuvneshwar and Nehra in the last match, made sure that the team did not lose wickets in the match.

Smith donned the role of the aggressor and went after Morkel and Shakib, while McCullum dealt in singles. When the partnership was looking dangerous, Shakib broke through the defence of Smith to strike the first blow. McCullum took over from where Smith left off and went after Morkel—hitting him for two sixes and a four in the seventh over. By the time McCullum departed in the eighth over, 67 runs were on board, and with eight wickets in hand 92 runs from the next 12 overs looked doable.

Dinesh Karthik takes the team to victory

With the platform set by Smith and McCullum at the top, Gujarat needed 92 more runs to win the match and Dinesh Karthik starred with a knock of 51 off 29 balls to take the team to victory. He first formed a 49-run partnership with skipper Suresh Raina before combining with Aaron Finch to make a 39-run stand. The wicket-keeper batsman started with three back-to-back fours against Brad Hogg before smashing Umesh Yadav for a four and a six in the 10th and 12th over respectively.

Raina, who played the role of a spectator during Karthik’s onslaught, returned to pavillion in the 14th over after making an uncharacteristic 18 off 14. Finch came out and started hitting from the word go, and took Shakib and Chawla to the cleaners with a 10-ball 29. Although both Karthik and Finch departed before their team crossed the line, Jadeja made sure that there were no more jitters as he smashed Chawla for a six in the last ball of the 18th over to take the team to the victory.

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