Gujarat Lions win thriller; Steven Smith ton in vain
Gujarat Lions 196 for 7 (Dwayne Smith 63, McCullum 43, Dinda 2-40) beat Rising Pune Supergiants 195 for 3 (Steven Smith 101, Rahane 53, Bravo 1-40) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
This match should have never gone down to the last ball. But a combination of poor shot selection and frantic running between the wickets from Gujarat Lions kept the game alive till the end. On a night when Supergiants' No. 3 Steven Smith scored a century and Dwayne Smith countered with a 37-ball 63, it was birthday boy James Faulkner who sealed Lions' chase of 196 with three wickets in hand. This win meant Lions consolidated their top spot in the league standings with their sixth win in seven matches.
Steven Smith's surgical placement, fast hands, quick feet and strong wrists fetched him a maiden T20 century that would have been match-winning on most nights. But it was put to shade by Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith, who needed only 8.1 overs for a 93-run opening partnership. The blazing start allowed Suresh Raina (34) and DineshKarthik (33) the luxury of playing themselves in and taking the game deep.
When Karthik holed out to Ajinkya Rahane at deep midwicket, Lions needed 30 off 22 with seven wickets in hand. But legspinner M Ashwin gave away only four runs in the 18th over, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja were knocked over in the 19th and the pressure mounted.
With eight runs to defend, Thisara Perera was given the final over. Faulkner held his shape and swung a leg-side full toss into the square leg boundary. The next delivery was far outside off stump and the second was driven to cover for a single. Raina was bowled off the third ball and Ishan Kishan was run out off the fourth. But Faulkner kept his composure to deliver the finishing blow.
The pace was similarly frenetic t the start of the chase. McCullum hammered four boundaries in the third over, from Albie Morkel. Dwayne Smith punished Ashok Dinda and R Ashwin for two fours each as Lions racked up 72 runs in the Powerplay.
With his quicks and spinners leaking runs, MS Dhoni turned to Rajat Bhatia whose canny medium pace accounted for McCullum in the ninth over. Dwayne Smith was unfazed, however, swinginganything in his hitting arc to deep midwicket and long-on. With nine fours and a six, there was an air of authority to his batting until he inside-edged a Perera yorker onto his stumps. By then, the equation had been brought down to 81 off 55 balls with eight wickets left. A level-headed half-century stand between Raina and Karthik and a timely cameo from Faulkner finished the game.
So Steven Smith ended up on the losing side again. That didn't look likely when he was toying with the Lions bowlers during a 111-run partnership with Rahane after Supergiants had been put in to bat.
Steven Smith made 101 off 54 balls, having built his innings with deft, back-foot flicks and powerful, front-foot drives. With Lions bowling too short and overcompensating later, Smith had straightforward choices to make. The visitors' generosity peaked in the 10th over when T20 debutant and chinaman bowler Shivil Kaushik bowled Steven Smith off a no-ball and the resulting free-hit lofted for six.
Then Rahane, like his new opening partner Saurabh Tiwary, was brilliantly run-out to leave Supergiants at 124 for 2 in the 14th over. Dhoni came in and slugged an unbeaten 30 off 18 to push the total towards 200, which should have been match-winning but Supergiants wilted under pressure.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo