Debutants Gujarat Lions started their Indian Premier League (IPL) venture with a splendid five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association’s I.S. Bindra Stadium on Monday. Set a 162-run target, Lions achieved the imprint with 14 balls to spare with Australian opener Aaron Finch (74) scoring most of the runs. Dinesh Karthik (41 not out) was also a boss contributor.
Their run chase stuttered early on when former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum departed for a second ball duck, advancing down the track to be smartly stumped by Wriddhiman Saha off the bowling of Sandeep Sharma in the first over. But Lions recovered from the loss, spearheaded by skipper Suresh Raina (20) and Finch.
Raina guided the team past the 50-run mark in the sixth over with a big six over midwicket. But then he fell off the very next ball, foxed by a Marcus Stoinis slower delivery to offer a simple catch to mid on. Finch remained unperturbed by Raina’s dismissal and used all his experience to lead his team’s chase, bringing up his 50 in the eight over.
He forged another 50-run partnership with Karthik to bring up the 100 in the 11th over. Lions were costing at that point but Finch’s sudden stumping in the 12th over, leaving them 117/3, gave Punjab hopes of a turnaround. Lions still needed 41 runs from 42 balls. Ravindra Jadeja’s (8) run out made the game more interesting.