Seamers, Karthik lift Lions to top of table
Gujarat Lions 164 for 5 (Karthik 51, Finch 29, McCullum 29) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 158 for 4 (Shakib 66*, Yusuf 63*, Praveen 2-19) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The skill of Gujarat Lions' seam attack, led by Praveen Kumar, beat the depth of Kolkata Knight Riders as they snapped a three-match losing streak and moved to the top of the points table at Eden Gardens on Sunday. Praveen and Dhawal Kulkarni maximised the advantage of bowling under overcast skies by swinging the ball both ways to reduce Knight Riders to 24 for 4 by the end of the Powerplay. Half-centuries from Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan, however, lifted the hosts to 158 for 4. Dinesh Karthik's sprightly fifty and a string of cameos then secured Lions' seventh win with five wickets and 12 balls to spare.
Praveen laid down the marker in the first over with a big inswinger, which zipped through Gautam Gambhir's gate and nearly shaved the off stump. Suresh Raina strengthened the slip cordon and even added a leg-slip, perhaps teasing Gambhir to glance the ball fine. The Knight Riders captain attempted that shot, only to deflect an inswinger off the thigh to the stumps in Praveen's second over. A ball later, Praveen had Manish Pandey nicking behind for a duck with an outswinger. When Kulkarni dismissed Robin Uthappa in a similar fashion in his second over, Knight Riders lost more than two wickets in the Powerplay for the first time this season.
Suryakumar Yadav, under pressure to break free after giving Praveen a maiden, fell to a stunning catch from Raina at slip, off Dwayne Smith. Lions could have also had Shakib on 3 had Pravin Tambe, returning from injury, not dropped a tough chance at third man. Instead, Shakib combined with Yusuf to spark a revival - they put together an unbroken 134, the highest for the fifth wicket in all IPLs.
The introduction of spin marked a stark shift in momentum. Yusuf did the early running, drilling chinaman bowler Shivil Kaushik for back-to-back boundaries in the 10th over. He and Shakib eventually took 55 runs in six overs between Kaushik, Ravindra Jadeja, and Tambe.
By the time pace returned in the form of Dwayne Bravo, Yusuf was in his groove and went on to bring up a half-century off 32 balls. Shakib had been on 24 off 32 balls, but he cracked 42 runs off his next 17 balls to finish with 66 off 49 balls. Yusuf was subdued by the tactful use of yorkers and cutters from round the wicket by Praveen and Bravo. Shakib's twin scoops off Praveen over short fine leg were the only blemishes in an otherwise pinpoint bowling performance. After taking the Man-of-the-Match award Praveen said that he relished bowling in the Powerplay as well in the slog overs.
The chase was a cruise, largely because of Karthik's third half-century of the season. Karthik is a hyperactive player and it shone through when he began his innings with three successive fours in the ninth over, off Brad Hogg. The first one was reverse-swept against the turn while the second was conventionally swept for four. The third was flicked through midwicket. Karthik was dropped on 40 and 51, but he was stumped a ball after the second reprieve.
Brendon McCullum and Smith had set up the chase with a 42-run opening partnership. They rediscovered their mojo and struck seven fours and three sixes between them, before being dismissed by spin in a space of 14 balls. Raina was then bounced out by Andre Russell for 14 off 18 balls. Aaron Finch, who had not taken the field in the chase against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, started with a cover-driven four and launched Shakib inside-out for six. He teed off further by hitting Piyush Chawla for three successive boundaries before being run-out for a 10-ball 29. Jadeja finished things off with a slog-swept six over long-on.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo