Finch, McCullum get GL's first home win

The pitch wasn't watered in the last two days and the coarse surface was predicted to bring in the spinners into play. But the pitch hardly mattered to Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch, as they made short work of Supergiants' 163.

Aaron Finch starred for Gujarat Lions with a second consecutive half-century.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Gujarat Lions refused to be intimidated by a target of 164 set on a wicket that was overused in the season. The gorund staff felt it would not facilitate stroke play. The pitch wasn't watered in the last two days and the coarse surface was predicted to bring in the spinners into play. But Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum, not given to bring the pitch into equation, blasted Rudra Pratap Singh, Ishant Sharma and leg spinner Murugan Ashwin in spectacular fashion as the Lions proceeded to surprise the Rising Pune Supergiants by seven wickets to occupy the top position in the points table.


There were many spellbinding parts to the engaging tussle between the offshoots of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals at a nearly-packed house at the Khanderi-village stadium here, but the 20th over scrap between the Supergiants captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the Lions’ hero of the first match, Dwayne Bravo held everyone’s breath as the most celebrated Indian captain outwitted the West Indian to score twenty runs – 4,2,2,6,2,4 -- and help his team recover lost ground.

As it found its way back to the dug out at the end of the first session, the home team may have wondered if it let slip the grasp it had on the match after Bravo, leg spinner Pravin Tamble and left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja had struck after the half way mark. Dhoni’s 10-ball cameo appeared to be a game changer.


After being clobbered by Kevin Pietersen and Faf du Plessis for two sixes in different directions Bravo did not bowl until the 14th over when the Supergiants was poised at 112 for two wickets. Bravo, gifted with the ability to drop his pace, won a one-on-one contest with Pietersen. Soon Tambe won his battle with du Plessis and then Jadeja got rid of Steve Smith.

Fifty seven runs in the powerplay in which Ajinkya Rahane played his part, gave a rousing start to the Supergiants campaign. The South African du Plessis and Pietersen took heavy toll of left arm spinner Shadab Jakati playing his second IPL match in two years. Then Pietersen put away Bravo’s first ball over backward square leg for a six. The second wicket pair rollicked, added 86 runs off 61 balls before Bravo varied his pace from 102 to 135 in his second over and outfoxed Pietersen. The fall of the former England player’s wicket saw the Lions roar back into the match.

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