Finch, Bravo lift Lions to victorious start
Gujarat Lions 162 for 5 (Finch 74, Karthik 41*) beat Kings XI Punjab 161 for 6 (Vijay 42, Vohra 38, Bravo 4-22) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Aaron Finch and Dwayne Bravo helped Gujarat Lions ease into the IPL with a thumping win against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. Barring the first over, Lions were in total control in their chase of 162; they won with 14 balls to spare on the back of Finch's 47-ball 74.
Brendon McCullum, who made a whirlwind ton in his final Test in February, was stumped by Wriddhiman Saha, standing up to the stumps to the medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma, in the first over of the chase. Sandeep, who anticipated a forward shimmy, bowled a superb outswinger to leave McCullum stranded. Finch and Suresh Raina then took the attack to the pacers, capitalising on loose deliveries to drive the chase.
While Raina holed out to mid-on in the sixth over, Finch peppered the boundary with deft touch and exemplary placement, particularly behind square on the off side. He hit 12 fours.
It needed a moment of brilliance from Pardeep Sahu, the legspinner, to dismiss him. Finch was drawn forward, and was beaten in the air and off the pitch as Saha completed his second stumping. The rest of the chase was a mere formality as Dinesh Karthik accrued his runs with sweeps and punchy strokes in front of the wicket to finish 41 not out.
Earlier, Kings XI were given an ideal start by their openers M Vijay and Manan Vohra, who saw off the swinging new ball before getting stuck into their work. A blend of crisp drives and flicks earned the pair a half-century stand within the Powerplay. The spread fields after the sixth over did not impede Vohra, as he manufactured boundaries courtesy swift footwork off the spinners.
However, the momentum shifted rapidly when Ravindra Jadeja struck twice in consecutive overs to remove the openers. Dwayne Bravo then undid Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the space of three balls in the 12th over. The ball that got Miller - the slow, dipping yorker - made Bravo the first bowler to pick up 300 T20 wickets.
Suddenly, debutant Marcus Stoinis and Wriddhiman Saha were left to rebuild. The pair were forced to use pockets of space in the large Mohali outfield to find their runs, and struggled to score quickly. Much of that was down to the efficiency of the Lions bowlers, who executed their yorkers and slower balls well. Bravo took two more wickets off consecutive slower balls in the last over, and could have had his best T20 bowling figures had Sarabjit Ladda not spilled a skier off the last ball.
Only two boundaries and 36 runs were scored off the last five overs as Kings XI mustered 161. Lions then rode their momentum to consign Kings XI to their ninth loss in 10 matches.
Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo