Suresh Raina's only other fifty this season had also come against Kolkata Knight Riders. In that match, Lions' first of the season, his unbeaten 68 lifted his team to 183 only for them to be razed by Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir in a record chase. This time, KKR wre without Lynn, but despite his absence, strung together a lethal opening partnership after being put in.
Raina, however, wasn't willing to take things lying down. He took the ball in the fourth over and dismissed Sunil Narine with the first ball he bowled to him. It brought the run rate down as Knight Riders' senior batsmen looked to build a solid base to launch from later on. Raina was happy to play to that strategy, knowing that he had Basil Thampi's yorkers and James Faulkner's change-ups to turn to in the slog overs. And the ploy worked, with Faulkner's 17th over going for five runs and Thampi's 20th costing seven. KKR collected just 38 from the last four overs, after the first three had been worth 44.
Raina then anchored his team's chase. Lions' openers had put up 42 before being separated in the fourth over. But that didn't slow them down. In fact, Lions struck a boundary within seven balls for every wicket that fell during the chase. Raina himself did it on a few occasions and notched up a fifty under pressure. It ensured the home team didn't run through their overs and build up pressure. By the time he got out, he had made a further 34 off 14 balls, leaving Lions with less than ten runs to win.
The wow moment
In the 17th over, Gambhir turned to Nathan Coulter-Nile in his search for a breakthrough. Coulter-Nile had struck in both his previous overs. But with Raina striking the ball impeccably, the move backfired. He backed away to the first ball and slapped it past the bowler. Then, two balls later, he used deft touch to squeeze a four through point, before walking across his stumps and launching one over the square leg boundary. As a result, sixteen came off Coulter-Nile's over and the equation was brought down to less than a run a ball.
Stats that matter
This was Suresh Raina's highest score for Gujarat Lions. He went past the 75 he made Sunrisers Hyderabad last year.
Raina has never been dismissed by Narine in the IPL.
What they said
"We need to give credit to the opposition at times. It's always good that someone like Raina keeps getting runs. Not against us, obviously."
"Raina has rewound the clock tonight...needed a captain's knock to get the campaign back on track."
Aakash Chopra, on Twitter