Amla ton in vain as Gujarat Lions dents KXIP playoff hopes

It was deja vu for Kings XI Punjab, as yet another 60-ball 104 from Hashim Amla went in vain as it slumped to a six-wicket loss to Gujarat Lions. The defeat has now put a serious dent on its qualification hopes for the playoffs.

Dwayne Smith smashed 79 off just 39 balls to help Gujarat win.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

It was deja vu for Kings XI Punjab, as yet another 60-ball 104 from Hashim Amla went in vain as it slumped to a six-wicket loss to Gujarat Lions. The defeat has now put a serious dent on its qualification hopes for the playoffs.

If it was Jos Butler’s 37-ball 77 for Mumbai Indians in Indore that blunted Amla’s first ton, on Sunday Dwayne Smith finally found form at the top of the order bludgeoning 74 off just 39 balls with eight fours and four sixes.

It did not help that Punjab was being far too gracious in its hospitality dropping Smith twice (on 42 and 51) and then Suresh Raina once (on 36).

Smith’s innings helped Lions go past 100 by the tenth over and cameos from skipper Raina and wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik was enough to post its fourth win of the season.

Earlier, Amla’s ton helped Punjab post a competitive 189 with Shaun Marsh chipping in with a valuable half-century.

Amla initially struggled with placements and his timing before accelerating towards the end of the innings. The South African put on a 125-run partnership with Shaun Marsh for the second wicket after losing Martin Guptill in the first over.

For someone who is known to find the gaps with precision, Amla started off with some fine drives but kept finding the fielders. He was even lucky when he was dropped by Jadeja off Basil Thampi- a tough chance with Jadeja diving to his right - when he was on just 12.

The former South African Test skipper however persevered with a few boundaries off the pads and got to his fifty in 35 balls but again lost momentum managing only 11 runs in the next nine balls.

Finally he picked one slower delivery of Kulkarni and despatched it over long on for his third six to find his mojo back. In the next 12 balls he put on show with his classical hitting scoring 28 runs with three fours and two more sixes.

In the final over, Amla used his magical wrists to find the fence twice - the second one a clean drive over the top of covers for a six to get to his century.

Electing to field, Lions who have not defended a total, once again struggled with its weak bowling unit.

Kulkarni was the pick of the bowlers as he took pace off his deliveries while maintaining a tight line. The other bowlers did vary their pace but couldn’t get the line right consistently and paid the price, leaking runs.

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