Raina leads Gujarat Lions to a much-needed win

Suresh Raina's second half-century enabled Gujarat Lions to overhaul a target of 188 set by Kolkata Knight Riders with 10 balls to spare and stop its slide by securing its second victory.

Suresh Raina steered Gujarat Lions's chase with a 46-ball 86.   -  AFP

Suresh Raina led from the front with a valiant 46-ball 84 as Gujarat Lions (GL) recorded a stunning four-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens here on Friday night.

Raina's second half-century enabled GL to overhaul a target of 188 set by KKR with 10 balls to spare and stop its slide by securing its second victory.

Even as KKR handed the new ball to spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine, GL openers Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch gave a breezy response by stealing 42 off just 21 balls. Finch butchered the home attack by hammering four fours and two sixes in the 'V'.

SCORECARD AND BALL-BY-BALL DETAILS

McCullum smashed boundaries all around the park and helped GL to 62 for one in five overs when a bout of drizzle stopped play for half an hour. Placed far ahead of the D/L target at rain interruption, GL lost some momentum due to the break.

Player of the match

Even though GL lost four wickets under pressure, captain Raina, who got a reprieve on one, maintained his composure and smacked nine fours and four sixes to keep his team in the hunt.

Displaying his breathtaking strokeplay, Raina shared a crucial 31-ball 58-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja. Raina took his team to the threshold of victory before getting out to Kuldeep Yadav.

Earlier, Sunil Narine hit a 17-ball 42, containing nine fours and a six over mid-off. It became an IPL record – the highest number of runs scored only in boundaries – and provided KKR another dazzling start.

The pinch-hitter cleanly drove the ball in the gaps and made room to slot it over the infield to plunder runs on both sides. GL bowlers struggled to bowl the right length, leaking 44 runs in first three overs.

Narine contributed 42 off his 45-run opening wicket stand with Gautam Gambhir before being caught at midwicket in Suresh Raina's first over and the team's fourth.

Gambhir (33) and Robin Uthappa forged a 69-run stand in which Uthappa played a dominant role. Even after Gambhir's dismissal, Uthappa joined hands with Manish Pandey to add 55 runs.

Uthappa, who had a close shave on six when Finch could not grab a hard chance at long on off Raina, predominantly chose the leg side to flex his arms apart from making some improvisations.

The Bangalorean, who struck two majestic sixes off Dhawal Kulkarni and Basil Thampi over mid-wicket, got his second half-century, a 48-ball 72, before hoisting Praveen Kumar to McCullum in the 19th over.

GL regained some ground, due to the good economy rates of its spinners and intelligent bowling from James Faulkner and Thampi, conceding 78 runs in the last nine overs.