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IPL Season 9: Gujarat Lions return to winning ways, go back top

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The Gujarat Lions brought their losing streak to a halt at 3 games, and reclaimed top spot in the Indian Premier League standings, beating their closest rivals the Kolkata Knight Riders by 6 wickets at the Eden Gardens tonight.

The Lions won the toss and predictably invited the Knight Riders to have a bat. Praveen Kumar was the star of the show for the Lions early on, picking up a couple of big wickets at the top of the order, including that of Kolkata skipper Gautam Gambhir for 5. He was well supported by Dhawal Kulkarni, and surprise first change bowler Dwayne Smith as both men chipped in with a wicket each to reduce KKR to 24-4 with a ball left in the powerplay.

 

Kolkata did well to stage an excellent recovery with Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan producing matching half-centuries, sharing in an unbeaten stand for the fifth wicket worth 134. Pathan struck 7 boundaries and 1 six en route to 63 off 41 balls, while Shakib showed he could use the long handle to good effect as well, producing 4 sixes and as many fours to reach 66 off 49 balls.

Despite that excellent partnership, the Gujarat Lions would have happily taken a target of 159 to win, and made light work of the run chase, cruising to victory with 2 full overs to spare, and truth be told could really have notched up the win even sooner.

Dwayne Smith once again gave Gujarat a great start, smashing 27 off 18 balls before he was bowled by Shakib. Brendon McCullum then took over, recovering from a slow start to contribute 29 off 24 before he holed out in the deep. Suresh Raina struggled to find his timing today, falling to Purple Cap holder Andre Russell for 14, but Dinesh Karthik set the game alight with another excellent half-century, finding the boundary with unerring precision to post 51 off 29 balls before he was dismissed when 4 runs were required for victory, trying to hit Brad Hogg out of the park.

Aaron Finch from the other end set the Eden Gardens ablaze, pummeling his way to 29 off 10 balls before he was run out a run short of victory. Ravindra Jadeja, quickly put that run out behind him by hitting a six to wrap up the game to put the Lions back on the winning track.

The win takes the Lions back to top spot in the League standings with 14 points from 11 games, while the Knight Riders slip to third after the Sunrisers Hyderabad temporarily took over top spot with a win earlier today. Both teams have 12 points with the Knight Riders having played 10 games to the Sunrisers' 9.

Up next for the Knight Riders is the visit of the Rising Pune Supergiants next weekend, giving them a bit of a midseason break. The Lions too have some holidays in their future, playing in the 4pm game on Saturday away to the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Teams:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (wk), Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Brad Hogg, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav.

Gujarat Lions: Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (capt), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Aaron Finch, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Pravin Tambe, Praveen Kumar Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik

Mini Scorecard:

Kolkata Knight Riders 158-4 (20 overs, 7.90rpo)

Y Pahtan 63* (41) P Kumar 2-19 (4)

S Al Hasan 66* (49) D Smith 1-14 (2)

Gujarat Lions 164-5 (18 overs, 9.11rpo)

D Karthik 51 (29) B Hogg 1-19 (2)

A Finch 29 (10) A Russell 1-21 (3)

Gujarat Lions win by 5 wickets