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IPL Season 9: Gujarat Lions pip Rising Pune Supergiants to last ball win

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A thrilling contest in Pune went down to the last ball, and India's super skipper MS Dhoni's legendary touch for dramatic wins appears to be deserting him this season as the Rising Supergiants lost yet again with birthday boy James Faulkner hitting the winning runs off the final ball of the match, narrowly escaping getting out on consecutive deliveries as Pune spurned a run out opportunity and then Faulkner pulled a short delivery from Thisara Perera past the diving Steve Smith who could only watch in vain as his maiden T20 century failed to guide Pune to a much needed win.

The Gujarat Lions, top of the IPL standings, won the toss and asked Pune to have a bat. Saurabh Tiwary, given an opportunity to open the batting by Pune, was run out for 1, beaten to the stumps by the diving Suresh Raina, Jonty Rhodes style ala the 1992 World Cup.

That set the stage for a 111 run partnership for the second wicket between Steve Smith (101) and Ajinkya Rahane (54). The duo played some gorgeous cricket shots, with Smith in particular exceptional to watch. Rahane's vigil was brought to an end by another run out, with Dwayne Bravo scoring a direct hit after Rahane bolted for a single at the non-striker's end and was sent back by an uninterested Smith.

MS Dhoni came out at no.4 and joined Smith in what was essentially a late demolition job. Smith brought up his century off just 53 deliveries, courtesy 8 boundaries and 5 sixes. He was out shortly after with Dwayne Bravo the only Pune bowler to take a wicket. Dhoni meanwhile continue to plunder, finishing unbeaten on 30 off 18 balls as Pune posted what on paper looked an insurmountable 195-3 in their 20 overs.

It's been a season to remember for the chasing teams, however, and today was to be no different as Gujarat's openers, Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum ran riot in the powerplay, scoring 72 runs, outscoring Pune by 24 in that period alone to put their side firmly in the driver's seat.

Smith smashed 63 off 37 balls with the help of 9 boundaries and 1 maximum, while McCullum has a strike rate of nearly 200, making 43 off 22 balls. The duo added 93 runs for the opening wicket and it wasn't until both men fell that Pune appeared to crawl back into the contest.

Their replacements, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik took some time to get going and a period of 4 overs went by without a boundary. Karthik finally upped the tempo, smashing 33 off 20 balls.

Pune once again came back into the contest with Ashok Dinda getting rid off Karthik and Dwayne Bravo in consecutive overs, before Dhoni ran out Ravindra Jadeja for a first ball duck. 6 runs though off the last 2 balls of Dinda's over, left Gujarat needing only 9 to win from the final over.

A boundary and a wide from Thisara Perera left the Lions needing 4 runs from 5 balls to win the match, but consecutive wickets brought the equation down to 3 off 2 balls with James Faulkner on strike. A hit down the ground straight to long-off should have cost Pune just a single but a wayward throw from the usually reliable Rahane cost Gujarat 2 when a run out at either end was possible. Unsurprisingly, Rahane decided to go to Faulkner's end instead of the slower Praveen Kumar, and a better throw from the Indian would surely have caught either batsman out by miles.

With a run to win off the last ball, Faulkner struck a poor short delivery from Perera just wide off Smith at short mid-on, and picked up the winning runs to make it a memorable birthday for the Aussie.

With the win the Gujarat Lions move up to 12 points, going 4 clear of the Kolkata Knight Riders and with a game against the Kings XI Punjab to follow on Sunday afternoon, they could all but seal their place in the top 4, even at this early stage of the competition. The Rising Pune Supergiants meanwhile are in 6th place with just 4 points from 7 games, and will need to string together some wins if they are to bounce back this season. They face the Mumbai Indians also on Sunday, 1st May in the late evening start.

Teams:

Rising Pune Supergiants: Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Tiwary, Steven Smith, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Peter Handscomb, Thisara Perera, Albie Morkel, Rajat Bhatia, Ravichandran Ashwin Murugam Ashwin, Ashok Dinda

Gujarat Lions: Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan, Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik

Mini Scorecard:

Rising Pune Supergiants 195-3 (20 overs, 9.75rpo)

S Smith 101 (54) D Bravo 1-40 (4)

A Rahane 53 (45)

Gujarat Lions 196-7 (20 overs, 9.80rpo)

D Smith 63 (37) A Dinda 2-40 (4)

B McCullum 43 (22) T Perera 2-41 (4)

Gujarat Lions win by 3 wickets

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