Gujarat Lions v Rising Pune Supergiants, IPL 2016, Rajkot April 14, 2016

Finch, McCullum propel Lions to big win

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Gujarat Lions 164 for 3 (Finch 50, McCullum 49, M Ashwin 2-31) beat Rising Pune Supergiants 163 for 5 (Du Plessis 69, Pietersen 37, Jadeja 2-18) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Aaron Finch hit his second consecutive half-century of the season © BCCI

Another one-sided encounter, another win for the chasing team. This season's IPL, it seems, is on repeat mode, after Gujarat Lions cruised to a seven-wicket win against Rising Pune Supergiants in Rajkot. After a strong start, Supergiants looked set for a score in excess of 180, but a superb display of defensive bowling towards the end turned the contest in Lions' favour. Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum then effectively killed the game by pillaging 62 in the Powerplay, during their chase of 164.

MS Dhoni had pulled back some momentum for Supergiants by contributing to a 20-run last over in the first innings, but his bowlers threw it all away. Loose deliveries stacked up, and the Lions openers duly dispatched them. Four fours and two sixes off the seamers, RP Singh and Ishant Sharma, meant Dhoni turned to M Ashwin in the last over of the Powerplay, but Finch took the legspinner for four fours in a 19-run over.

Finch then hit medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia for two sixes over long-on in the seventh over, but holed out to square leg in the ninth, for 50 - his second half-century of the season. By then, though, the damage had been done.

McCullum continued to latch on to wayward bowling, as the spinners failed to extract much from the patchy surface. Supergiants' day was summed up when Dhoni missed a routine stumping with McCullum well short of his crease after R Ashwin had yorked the batsman.

After McCullum top-edged an attempted pull to cover off Ishant, the captain Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo produced cameos as Lions reached the target with two overs to spare.

Supergiants' batting was a tale of two halves. Faf du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane continued from where they left off against Mumbai Indians, using exquisite timing to plunder five fours in the first 21 balls. After Pravin Tambe trapped Rahane lbw in the fourth over, Kevin Pietersen and du Plessis ensured a productive Powerplay with a bunch of boundaries.

The pair added 30 off 13 balls to end the Powerplay at 57 for 1, with du Plessis being particularly aggressive down the ground. Even as the field spread, the boundary was found regularly and their stand stretched to 83.

But just when Supergiants looked to accelerate, Bravo brought out his slower balls to stall the charge. He bowled four of them in succession in the 14th over, the last of which forced Pietersen to drag on. Suddenly, one wicket brought three as the spinners found their lengths. Ravindra Jadeja, who has played most of his domestic cricket at this ground, varied his pace effectively to concede just four off the 17th and 19th overs to finish with figures of 2 for 18.

The situation may have been a lot worse had Dhoni not given Supergiants a late surge - he took Bravo for a six, two fours and three twos in the last over. In the end, Supergiants' 163 was nowhere near enough as they tasted their first defeat in the IPL.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SREEJITH on April 16, 2016, 7:33 GMT

    My playing 11 rahane,faf,irfan,kp,dhoni,marsh,perera/morkel,bhatia,aswin,sharma,m.aswin rahane,faf,smith are same type players. why irfan at no 3 for depth in batting line up and he can be a pinch hitter.bcz pune don't have power hitting openers like gayle mccullum etc .if both one opener and irfan fail early kp can play an anchor role.perera/morkel can be a power hitter in death overs.

  • Vikrant on April 16, 2016, 4:38 GMT

    RPSG must send Smith at 3 because he can push the ball in gaps and keep the score board ticking where as Pietersen can strike the ball and can score boundaries in the end whereas Smith cannot score boundaries at will. Marsh should be given one more game to prove his mettle,against the lions he had to score from the word go,so he struggled. The only replacement must be Irfan to play instead of RP Singh.Irfan offers them variety as there is no other left handed batsman in the XI and Irfan can pick up early wickets. Playing XI - Rahane,Faf,Smith,KP,Dhoni,Marsh,Irfan,Bhatia,Ashwin,M.Ashwin,Ishant.

  • James on April 15, 2016, 23:48 GMT

    Since Pune lost, no one mentions the word Captaincy...if they would have won it will be of course due to cool captaincy...

  • Samuel Murphy on April 15, 2016, 23:12 GMT

    What if? could of? wonder how the T20WC would have gonhad mccullum played

  • Ralf on April 15, 2016, 17:43 GMT

    Why isn't Dhoni not playing Irfan? Even though he was burned out in longer formats, he s very handy in T20 with his, bowling, big hitting and fielding

  • Ralf on April 15, 2016, 17:42 GMT

    RPS bowling is weak. Virtually non-existent strike bowlers you can rely on to get breakthroughs. Ashwin the spinner can't do it all the time.

  • Dinesh on April 15, 2016, 14:09 GMT

    For the past few years, perhaps Dhoni is the best captain to win or the best to lose. How team plays, captain has no control. If you win the toss, captain decides. If both sides are good batting (India/Aus,...), esp. in T20/ODI, if you field first you know your destination and you can plan properly. Moreover, captain decides who to bowl, I have rarely seen him bowling changes based upon need but he's highly conservative. We should remove him as the captain. He's a great finisher batsman and still a good wicketkeeper and a great runner

  • John on April 15, 2016, 11:57 GMT

    I am getting alarmed by M S Dhoni! At the start of the this game he announced the wicket wouldn't change much. And then chose to bat first. The current wisdom is that if the wicket won't change, if you win the toss you field first and get the advantage of chasing, because you are aware of what you are chasing. Pietersen, for one, was too leisurely in approach. Give him, and others, the chance to know what they needed and it would have obviously been another tempo. The last time India played the ODIs vs Australia, Dhoni misread the game by batting first, and India lost. Subsequently, when he fielded first, India won. It may be that Dhoni now enjoys walking on water, sure of winning whichever way he chooses. But he shouldn't be surprised if he gets wet all the time! Also can I suggest, with respect, that he gives himself, say, 3 more years to play regular cricket, including First Class and Tests, and then retire altogether? He's now a bit hesitant otherwise. But what a player!

  • Garry on April 15, 2016, 11:38 GMT

    Finch and McCullum opening, it is like 2 long lost twins finally finding each other!

  • bhanu67325088 on April 15, 2016, 10:57 GMT

    Dhoni seems to have inherited a weak bowling team.With the exception of Ashwin the Pune attack seems to be very weak.Ishant is not lethal and Bhatia seems to be an easy fodder. Suddenly the ex Chennai Super Kings skipper who had many resources at his disposal seems to be in desperate search of new answers.But the brilliant strategist he is,one would like to see how MSD bounces back...!!!

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