Finch fifty helps Lions off to a winning start

After Bravo took four for 22 to restrict the host to 161 for six in 20 overs, man of the match Finch slammed a 47-ball 74 and Dinesh Karthik gave the finishing touch.

Aaron Finch anchored Gujarat Lions' chase with a 47-ball 74.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

As widely anticipated, Indian Premier League’s debutant Gujarat Lions flexed its muscles, beating Kings XI Punjab by five wickets. > Dwayne Bravo and >Aaron Finch were top performers for the Lions.

After Bravo took four for 22 to restrict the host to 161 for six in 20 overs, man of the match Finch slammed a 47-ball 74 before Dinesh Karthik gave the finishing touch.

>SCORECARD AND BALL-BY-BALL DETAILS

The first over dismissal of Brandon McCullum did not hurt Gujarat as Finch flourished in the brief company of skipper Suresh Raina and then Karthik.

Returning to the venue where, 15 days back, India ended Australia’s World Twenty20 campaign, Finch carried on the form that helped him score 43 in that game. Showing his liking for the pitch at the I. S. Bindra Stadium, Finch smashed 12 boundaries and effectively paved the way for his team’s victory.

>DAY THREE IN PICTURES

PARTNERSHIPS WITH RAINA, KARTHIK

Finch added 51 runs for the second wicket with skipper Suresh Raina whose decision to field proved right. Thereafter, the Aussie dominated the 65-run third-wicket stand – in just 6.2 overs – with Karthik by contributing 44. By the time, Finch ‘walked’ after being stumped, Lions needed only 45 runs 8.1 overs.

In fact, the target of 162 hardly looked intimidating considering Kings XI 98 for two in 11 overs. Even after Jadeja accounted for the well-set openers M. Vijay and Manan Vohra (they put on a 78-run stand), the host was eying a big total.

If just 62 runs came off the last nine overs, Bravo’s three overs had much to do with it. Making more than just amends for dropping a difficult catch of Manan Vohra (8), Bravo virtually ended Kings XI hopes of setting a challenging target.

BRAVO'S DOUBLE STRIKE

In the 12th over, Bravo’s yorkers got past the aggressive intent of Glenn Maxwell and skipper David Miller. Maxwell tried to make room to play on the off-side and stood castled. A delivery later, another yorker, slower than the one that foxed Maxwell, castled Miller.

With these wickets, Bravo reached 300 wickets in T20 cricket, overtaking Lasith Malinga’s tally of 299. But the West Indian was not done for the day. He returned with another twin-strike in the final over, scalping the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha and Marcus Stoinis after duo resurrected the innings with a 55-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Bravo’s strikes pushed into background opener M. Vijay’s robust 42 off which 33 came in the power-play. Vohra, watching Vijay do most of the scoring in the first four overs, then held centre-stage. But with Jadeja striking in his successive overs and Bravo getting into the act, Lions did not have to chase too many.