Lions beat Pune by 3 wickets, post sixth win in seven matches

Indian Premier League (IPL)
KXIP face uphill battle against Gujarat Lions

The Gujarat Lions roar in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as Steven Smith’s brilliant century went in vain as Gujarat Lions rode on a blazing opening stand between Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum to beat Rising Pune Supergiants by three wickets in a thrilling last ball finish on Friday.

Smith smashed 101 off just 54 deliveries as Pune posted a challenging 195 for 3 after being put into bat but the Lions capitalised on the 93-run opening stand between Dwayne Smith (63 off 37 balls) and McCullum (43 off 22 balls) to pull off a narrow win at the MCA Stadium.

Captain Suresh Raina (34 off 28 balls) and Dinesh Karthik (33 off 20 balls) also made useful contributions as they stitched 51 runs together for the third wicket to take the Lions closer to victory.

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The visiting side made a heavy weather of the 196-run chase towards the end as they lost the wickets of Dwayne Bravo (7), Ravindra Jadeja (0), Ishan Kishan (0) and Raina in quick succession but James Faulkner (9 not out) was there at the end to take the Lions home.

The Lions needed nine runs from the final over bowled by Thisara Perera but they lost Raina and Kishan in consecutive deliveries, leaving them to get three from two overs.

The penultimate delivery fetched the Lions two runs and Faulkner took a single off the last ball to take the Lions to 196 for 7 and post their sixth win in seven matches.

With the win today, the Lions consolidated their top spot at the league table as they have collected 12 points from seven matches. Rising Pune Supergiants remained sixth with four points from seven matches.

The Lions began their run chase in a flier with Smith and McCullum butchering the Pune bowlers to submission. The hard-hitting opening duo blazed to 72 without loss in the first six powreplay overs, hitting boundaries with impunity.

The opening pair took 24 runs off the third over bowled by Albie Morkel with McCullum hitting three fours and a six, followed by 15 and 14 runs from the next two overs.

McCullum was out in the ninth over with Rajat Bhatia giving Pune the much-needed breakthrough. The former New Zealand captain went for a slog sweep but his top edge landed at the safe hands of Morkel at short fine leg.

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Smith continued his aggressive batting and sent the next ball after McCullum’s dismissal to the boundary to bring up his fifty off just 28 deliveries.

The Lions reached the 100-run mark in the ninth over but Smith was out in the next over as the West Indian inside-edged a Perera yorker length delivery onto the stumps.

(With PTI inputs)

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