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Gujarat Lions dominated with both bat and ball to thrash Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by seven wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday evening. Chasing a modest target of 135 runs, Gujarat crossed the line in 13.5 overs. Aaron Finch and skipper Suresh Raina played a crucial role with 92-run stand. Finch produced a whirlwind innings of 72 runs, hitting five boundaries and six sixes during his 34-ball stay in the middle, while Raina remained unbeaten on 34, off 30 balls with four hits to the fence and a six. This is the sixth defeat for RCB who are going through a poor run this season. They are now placed seventh in the eight-team table with a mere five points from nine matches with only two wins to their credit.
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They had suffered a humiliating 82-run defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Eden Gardens on April 23 when they were bundled out for a mere 49 runs which is the lowest-ever total in the IPL's 10 year history. Gujarat registered their third win of this season to climb to the sixth position. They have six points from eight matches which include three wins and five defeats. Defending a modest total, the hosts were handed a glimmer of hope when West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree picket up wickets in consecutive overs. Badree struck the first blow for RCB in the third over when Ishan Kishan could not time his shot properly while attempting a sweep and was trapped plumb in front of the stumps. Brendon McCullum also did not last long as he was also dismissed by Badree. The New Zealand star stepped out to attempt a bit hit but miscued his shot only to be caught by A.B. de Villiers at long on.
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That was the only bit of success the hosts will enjoy in a long time as Raina and Aaron Finch proceeded to take on the RCB bowling. Raina enjoyed a major reprieve in the 10th over. The jampacked stadium collectively leapt to their feet when Raina holed out to the fielder on the deep midwicket boundary while attempting to hit Yuzvendra Chahal out of the park. But the joy of the RCB players and fans soon turned to disappointment when the delivery turned out to be a no ball. Raina and Finch made full use of the reprieve and continued to punish the RCB bowlers. By the time Finch holed out to de Villiers at long on when he mistimed a pull off Pawan Negi, Gujarat was well on their way to victory. Earlier, Gujarat produced a disciplined bowling performance to restrict RCB to 134.
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This was the second successive match in which the big three guns of the RCB batting line-up -- Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and de Villiers -- proved to be a damp squib. Negi was the highest scorer for the hosts with 32 runs off 19 balls which included three boundaries and two sixes. Kedar Jadhav, who smashed 31 runs off 18 deliveries, was the only other RCB batsman who managed to trouble the Gujarat bowlers. For Gujarat, Australian pacer Andrew Tye returned figures of 3/12 while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja also picked up a couple of wickets. RCB skipper Virat Kohli was the first to go when he picked out Finch at short fine leg while attempting a big shot off young pacer Basil Thampi. Tye then took consecutive wickets with the first two balls of the next over. He struck a crucial blow with his very first ball of the match when he induced an outside edge off the dangerous Gayle with wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthick doing the honours behind the stumps. The Australian pacer then produced a similar delivery to remove Travis Head, whose edge travelled to Raina at first slip.
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Jadhav and de Villiers then tried to spark an RCB comeback, adding 36 runs between them off 26 balls after the former kicked off the partnership with three boundaries off Thampi in the sixth over. But the partnership did not last too long as Jadhav was removed by Jadeja. The batsman had exposed his stumps while attempting a late cut to third man, but he missed as the ball held its line and crashed into the stumps. RCB plunged into further trouble when a mix-up between de Villiers and Mandeep Singh coupled with an excellent piece of fielding by Jadeja saw the South African being run out. Negi then strode to the middle to play a slam-bang knock and produce a 40-run stand with Mandeep. It was however, not enough to revive the hosts' innings. By the time Negi hit an Ankit Soni delivery into the hands of Thampi at deep midwicket, the wind had been knocked out of RCB's sails.