Dwayne Smith led from the front with the bat to help Gujarat Lions beat Kings XI Punjab in Mohali on Sunday. KXIP, after this loss, might still be in the IPL 2017 Playoffs contention, but they will have to play some amazing cricket in the remainder of the matches to have any chances of progressing through.
It must really be frustrating for KXIP to lose a match after a splendid batting performance from their batsmen, including Hashim Amla, who scored his second ton of the competition. The home team dropped a number of catches, which really cost them the game as well.
After being put into bat by Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina, KXIP did put up some good runs (189) on the board, which did not prove to be enough.
However, one should not forget Amla and his brilliant innings of 104 runs. It was an innings, which had class written over it. Amla (104, 60b 8x4 5x6) played all the shots in the book, including some lap shots behind the wicket too. He might not have started too well in the first six overs of the match, but it was during the middle stages of the game and the final few overs, where Amla came onto his own.
Gujarat Lions bowlers had no answer to his amazing willow show in the middle. Most of his shots pierced the gap, and it was all about his timing. The right-hander reached his second hundred of the season, hitting a wonderful six over cover in the final over of the first innings.
Such was the class of Amla's innings that Shaun Marsh's contribution did not receive much attention. The Australian (58b, 43b 6x4) had a great partnership with Amla, with the former compiling 43-ball 58. It was a combined batting effort from the two, and some lusty blows from Glenn Maxwell, which helped them, post a huge total.
Chasing 190 runs to win was always going to be a huge task, and Gujarat Lions had to start well. With no Brendon McCullum in their playing XI, the onus was on Smith to get them off to a flier, and the West Indian responded to his team's call.
Smith (74, 39b 8x4 4x6) looked in dangerous form with the bat as he was dealing in boundaries during the Powerplay. Ishan Kishan did not receive much strike as Smith was doing bulk of the scoring. KXIP fielders were not upto the mark as substitute fielder David Miller also dropped Smith , which cost them hard. GL scored 58 runs from their six overs, which was what the doctored for the visitors.
The West Indian played his natural attacking game even after Ishan was out. He got another life, again, in the eighth over of the innings, dropped by Gurkeerat Singh. He took that advantage and scored an important 74 runs before getting out.
That brought two experienced Indian players in the middle, Suresh Raina (39, 25b 4x4 1x6) and Dinesh Karthik. They were not looking in much trouble at the crease, but they had to be careful to stay in touching distance with the required run rate.
The GL bowlers bowled well in the last few overs to bring back KXIP into the game. Sandeep Sharma took two wickets in the 18th over of the match, sending back Raina and Aaron Finch.
The match got really interesting with GL requiring 24 runs from last two overs. With Karthik smashing Varun Aaron for a six and four in the penultimate over along with a few couples, Gujarat Lions had to score eight runs from six balls, which was achieved easily with two balls to spare.
Kings XI Punjab vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2017 scorecard:
Toss: GL won the toss and chose to bowl.
KXIP: 189/3 in 20 overs.
Gujarat Lions:192/4 in 19.4 overs.
Result: GL won by six wickets
Bowling: Gujarat Lions: Pradeep Sangwan 3-0-28-1; Dhawal Kulkarni 4-0-24-1: Basil Thampi 4-0-48-1; James Faulkner 4-0-43-0; Ravindra Jadeja 2-0-19-0; Ankit Soni 3-0-27-0.
KXIP: Sandeep Sharma 4-0-29-2; Mohit Sharma 4-0-35-0; Varun Aaron 4-0-43-0; Axar Patel 3-0-29-0; Glenn Maxwell 2-0-21-1; T Natarajan 2.4-0-32-0
Fall of wickets: KXIP: 1-2, Guptill (0.5 ov), 2-127, Marsh (15.4 ov), 3-187, Amla (19.5 ov),
Gujarat Lions: 1-91, Ishan (9.2 ov), 2-120, Smith (11.2 ov), 3-162, Raina (17.1.6 ov) 4-165, FInch (17.4 ov)