Gujarat Lions (GL) have been the best team in IPL 2016 so far, and they continued their amazing run, winning their sixth game of the competition, against Rising Pune Supergiants at MCA Stadium in Pune on Friday by three wickets. The game went right down to the wire, and the GL players held their nerves to script yet another impressive win.
With this victory, Gujarat Lions have taken a four-point lead at the top of the table over second placed Kolkata Knight Riders. The GL batsmen, who have been brilliant in IPL 2016, played a huge hand as they scored 196 runs to win. Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum starred in Pune with the bat.
The GL openers – Smith and McCullum – were required to get off to a blistering start, and the duo did not disappoint. They thrashed RPS bowlers all around the park, and provided a great start, scoring 72 runs during the Powerplay.
Smith and McCullum hit 11 fours and one six in the first six overs to put them in a comfortable position. However, McCullum was back in the pavilion after scoring 22-ball 43, glittered with five fours and two sixes.
Despite losing McCullum, Smith was taking the attack to the opposition, playing his shots and scoring runs with ease, which helped them inch closer to the target as well, but Thisara Perera dismissed Smith in the 11th over as the West Indian scored 37-ball 63.
Smith had done his job at the top for GL, and it was left for the middle order to help them emerge triumphant. Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik were looking good, but the required rate was increasing, and it reached 10 runs per over as well.
The game moved into an interesting phase as the GL required 49 runs from the last five overs. Karthik was back in the dugout after scoring 33 runs from 20 balls. The RPS bowlers showed some discipline as GL required 20 runs from the last two overs, and the home team got back into game with two wickets in succession. GL had to score 16 runs from nine balls.
It was anybody's match in the final over as the GL had to score nine runs from the final over to win the game, and the visitors clinched the match in the last ball, taking one run to emerge triumphant.
Earlier, RPS, who were asked to bat first by GL, did not get off to a great start as Saurabh Tiwary lost his wicket in the third over of the game. Tiwary was asked to open the innings with regular opener Faf du Plessis ruled out of the IPL due to an injury.
Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith looked in complete control of the innings as they began to show their class, hitting some exquisite boundaries. The duo were fantastic in the middle, and the GL bowlers did not have any answer to their brilliant batting. Rahane and Smith played shots all around the wicket with considerable ease, and a score of 180 plus runs looked inevitable.
Rahane and Smith were involved in a partnership of 111 runs, which brought them in a comfortable position. Though Rahane was dismissed for 53 runs in the 14th over, Smith and MS Dhoni looked brilliant as they hit those massive fours and sixes with relative ease.
Smith was in sensational form as he completed an amazing century, which comprised eight fours and five sixes. Dhoni, on the other hand, played a great innings, scoring 18-ball 30, which helped them score 195 runs in their allotted 20 overs.
However, the score did not prove to be enough as the GL batsmen shone to emerge victorious in Pune.