Partnerships of the week - Gambhir, Lynn set the season rolling with record stand
A record-breaking 184-run opening stand between Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn, against Gujarat, ranked among the best partnerships in the first week of the Indian Twenty20 competition. David Miller and Glenn Maxwell's 79-run stand against Pune, and Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane's 58-run stand against Mumbai were also on the list.
After a less-than impressive 2016 season, Kolkata needed to get back to winning ways and they promoted Chris Lynn to open the batting in place of Robin Uthappa, who had shared 1478 runs in 39 innings at an average of 37.89 with Gambhir in earlier seasons. Lynn's form in the Big Bash League, where he had batted at No. 3 for the Brisbane Heat and for Australia in a subsequent ODI against Pakistan, prompted the promotion and he outpaced his more experienced partner throughout the innings.
The right-hander made his attacking intentions clear from the onset and along with Gambhir clubbed seven fours and two sixes in the first five overs. The next five overs were just as woeful for Gujarat as the duo added 70 more. The early onslaught set the tone for the rest of the innings. In all, Lynn smashed eight sixes and six fours in his 41-ball 93. He was most unforgiving against the seamers, scoring 69 of his runs against pace at a strike rate of 287.5. When Suresh Raina, the opposition captain, turned to spin for respite, Gambhir took charge and negotiated the spinners tactfully with a 48-ball 76.
What they said
"You can't ask for more from Lynny. He took a lot of pressure off me. The bowlers also did a fantastic job. We are going to give Lynny a longer run. Hopefully he can keep smacking it. These are early days in the tournament."
Gautam Gambhir on his match-winning innings
Maxwell, Miller wreck Pune with 79-run stand
A 79-run unbeaten partnership between Glenn Maxwell and David Miller took Punjab, a side that has struggled for form over the last two seasons, over the line with six balls to spare against Pune at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore.
Maxwell, debuting as captain, opted to bowl first on a surface that aided batting and his seamers, Sandeep and Mohit Sharma, in particular made life difficult for Pune's powerful batting unit. The neat bowling display restricted Pune to just 163 in their innings. Punjab's top order found runs, but they required 36 from the last five overs to register a win. Maxwell and Miller switched gears, with Maxwell smashing Tahir for two sixes in the 16th and Miller lofting Ashok Dinda for another in the 18th over. They held their nerve to complete the win.
What they said
"Nice to start off with a new home ground and get some joy. We haven't had fruitful seasons recently so it was nice. It was a clean slate for the team, we came with blank minds and had plans for all their batsmen. We can't control the past, only the future."
Glenn Maxwell on his match-winning innings
Smith, Rahane anchor narrow Pune win over Mumbai
Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane guided Pune to a seven-wicket win against Mumbai with a 58-run stand for the second wicket at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune.
Chasing 184, Pune required the top order to come good and the Rahane-Smith combine dropped anchor after Mayank Agarwal's departure in the fourth over. Rahane set the chase up with a 34-ball 60 at a strike rate of 176.47, and Smith steered them home with an unbeaten 84 off 54 balls. The equation came down to 10 off three balls, and Smith finished the match with successive sixes off Kieron Pollard.
What they said
"Fortunate to get over the line in the end. We always knew they would have to get an over in from a spinner or Pollard and we had to target them It was nice to hit a couple of sixes to hit the game. It was one of those wickets where it was hard to find timing as soon as you come in."
Steven Smith on his match-winning innings
Carlyle Laurie is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo