KXIP missed out on a chance to strengthen their play-offs chances as Gujarat Lions inflict a defeat

dwayne-smith_806x605_51494180417.jpgThe visiting captain Suresh Raina, won the toss and invited the KIngs XI Punjab to bat first. Gujarat got the breakthrough in the very first over as they managed to dismiss Martin Guptill for a meager 2 runs. Basil Thampi at the deep mid-wicket made no mistake as he held on to the ball tightly. Shaun Marsh, who came in at number three joined Hashim Amla. Having lost the opening wicket very early, these veteran batsmen played a conscionable innings and their partnership brought up a colossal 125 runs for the side. The Aussie-Protea combination hit a passel of boundaries, each coming at steady interludes, daunting the Gujarat bowlers. At the halfway, Punjab had posted a decent score of 81, but had 9 wickets in hand. Well set Amla and Marsh reached fifties in the 13th and 14th over respectively. The latter lost his wicket as soon as he reached his fifty with Marsh’s mistimed shot being caught by his compatriot Aaron FInch. Unflappable Amla catapulted the very next ball over the rope, putting the pressure back on the Lions. Maxwell, who replaced Marsh was launching the balls all over the park with successive sixes coming up in the penultimate over. With a six, Amla reached his second ton of the season. He became only the third player to score two tons in a season, with Gayle and Kohli achieveing the feat already. Finally, Hashim Amla was removed, courtesy of a Basil Thampi’s wicket. Losing three wickets, KXIP managed to post 189 runs.

With a redoubtable target to reach, the Gujarat openers Ishan Kishan and Dwayne Smith laid the foundation for the next batsmen to come and win the game. Utilizing the fielding restrictions sagaciously, Lions racked up 58 runs without losing a wicket. Boisterous Smith reached fifty off Axar Patel’s next over as he smacked him over the rope for a maximum. Smith, who was fortunate to be dropped a sitter by David Miller went on to add another 29 runs. Ishan Kishan, after playing a foundation laying innings of 29 runs was dismissed by Natarajan, who picked up his second IPL wicket. Raina did not want the rhythm to slip and he found the rope twice in succession off Varun Aaron’s 11th over. Gujarat lost their second wicket, with Dwayne Smith aiming to hit another ball over the rope, hit the ball straight to the deep mid-wicket stationed Martin Guptill. With a less than 9 RPO target to attain, the Gujarat Lions batsmen played singles and doubles and tried not to go for the maximum. Running fast between the wickets, they made the equation look cinch with 28 needed off the last three overs. Sandeep Sharma’s brilliant over put Punjab back into the game. Suresh Raina, finally wanting to lash the balls hard, found Gurkeerat Singh, who had missed a catch few balls ago. Sandeep’s over could only delay Gujarat’s win, with Dinesh Karthik steering the game in favor of his side with a six and a four in the 19th over. Needing 8 off the last over, the game completely slipped away form the home side as Natarajan bowled two wides and his fellow Ranji team mate finished the game off with a four.

Dwayne Smith, whose aggression in the initial overs won the game for Gujarat Lions was awarded the Man of the match. Gujarat after winning this game supplant Delhi Daredevils and are now perched at 6th place. KXIP have to win their remaining games in order to fancy any chances of settling in the top half of the table. Punjab will face KKR and Gujarat will play Delhi Daredevils in their next games respectively

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