KKR make mincemeat of Gujarat Lions bowling, register 10-wicket win
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Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) toyed with the toothless Gujarat Lions bowling attack to script a facile 10-wicket victory riding batting heroics of skipper Gautam Gambhir and Australian Chris Lynn in their opening Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Friday. Gambhir (76 off 48) and Lynn (93 off 41) did not let the cheerleaders rest from the word go chasing 184 to win as the Lions had posted 183/4 after being asked to bat first. The unbroken opening stand of 184 between the pair became the highest in IPL history for the first wicket, overcoming the 167-run partnership between Chris Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors. Sans Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, the home side's inexperience in the bowling department was laid bare as the opening pair recorded their fastest 100-run opening partnership, coming off just 46 balls. This was also KKR's highest opening wicket association, surpassing the previous best of 121 runs involving Gambhir and Robin Uthappa.
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KKR got off to a flying start at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium with both Lynn and Gambhir taking the opposition bowlers to the cleaners. Lynn's pyrotechnics saw the Australian bring up his half century in just 19 balls laced with four boundaries and five sixes. The Australian used his raw power to clobber the likes of Dwayne Smith whom he took 23 runs off one over. At the other end, Gambhir milked rookie chinaman Shivil AKaushik for 23 runs in 13 deliveries. Dhawal Kulkarni was the worst among the bowlers, conceding 42 runs off his 2.5 overs. The way both batsmen paced their innings was a study in contrast. Gambhir did not hit a six in his whole innings, preferring grounded shots (12 fours) and the leg side more. Lynn, however, smoked eight sixes and six fours, mostly taking the aerial route and using his power to send the ball to all parts of the park. Earlier, skipper Suresh Raina led from the front with a half century while Dinesh Karthik added the fireworks later on as the Lions posted 183/4 in 20 overs.
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Raina (68 not out off 51) was dropped twice during his stay, with the veteran of the shortest format of cricket making the most of his lives to notch up his 29th fifty in the IPL. Raina also surpassed India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli as the highest run getter in the T20 league. Karthik (47 off 25) continued his purple patch with the bat with a well paced 47 off 25 balls where the Tamil Nadu batsman spanked medium pacer Chris Woakes in the penultimate over as the Englishman had a forgettable debut. The partnership between the pair for the fourth wicket was 87 runs. Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav returned best figures of 2/25 in his four overs for the visitors.