Just when the standings were starting to take a specific shape, Gujarat Lions have roared their way back in contention. After winning the toss, Suresh Raina put Kolkata Knight Riders in to bat first, but the latter got off to a blistering start thanks to Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa.
Unfortunately for the home team, their middle order couldn’t keep up the momentum and get them over the 200 margin, finishing with 187 on board.
In reply, the Lions roared from the start as both openers - Brendan McCullum and Aaron Finch - gave them the raging start that was necessary. Suresh Raina then came in and played a captain’s knock to win the game for his team.
Here are 5 memorable moments from the match that don't fade away, quite like the Axe Signature range of body perfumes:
#5 Narine goes berserk
About 4-5 years ago, it felt as though Sunil Narine found it difficult to lift his bat while batting. Fast forward to right now and it feels as though Chris Gayle has transferred his power to his fellow West Indies teammate.
Opening the innings for the Knight Riders, Narine smacked a vehement 42 runs off only 17 balls. That lightning fast innings saw the left-hander smash 9 boundaries and a six to unsettle the visitors.
If you do the math, you will realise that Narine scored 100% of his runs through boundaries with 36 coming off fours and 6 off a maximum. An astonishing feat!
#4 Robin’s rage
Who needs Batman when you have Robin? We just had to use that, didn’t we? Kolkata Knight Riders have a conundrum that every team would love to have. Coming into the IPL 2017, Kolkata had the most stable opening pair in Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir.
However, they were probably bored at how efficient that pair has been over the years and, hence, opted to experiment with the opening slot.
That meant that Uthappa had to be demoted down the order, but that doesn’t really matter to a batsman who is in outstanding form as he translated his wonderful flow with a well-paced innings of 72 of 48 balls, a knock which kept the scorecard ticking at a brisk rate and helped his team set a target of 188.
#3 The part-timers’ fight back
The start that Sunil Narine provided to the Knight Riders meant that anything under 200 would be a disappointing finish. Couple this with the fact that Robin Uthappa struck at a rate of 150, and KKR not going beyond 200 seems astonishing.
But that was due to some fine bowling from part-time bowlers, Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith, in the middle of the first innings which brought the run-rate back to below 10. Raina ended with figures of 2-0-11-1 and Dwayne Smith gave away only 14 runs in his 2 overs. The heroics from these two, coupled with some good death-over bowling, allowed the Gujarat Lions to keep the target in sight.
#2 Kuldeep Yadav’s valiant effort
In a team that consists of world class spinners like Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine, making your name as a slow bowler is a daunting task. However, Kuldeep Yadav is a special talent and he showed it once again, today.
The big names, however, were hammered all over the park as in a total of 7 overs, Shakib and Narine gave away 73 runs without picking a single wicket. That’s when Kuldeep Yadav stepped up. Although he conceded 33 runs, he managed to take 2 wickets including that of an on song Suresh Raina.
#1 Rain-a of Terror
Suresh Raina has been quiet on the international circuit for some time now. He hasn’t been the same player for Team India that he once was. However, in the Indian Premier League, so far, he is showing signs of his old self – one who the bowlers feared to bowl to.
At a time when wickets were falling consistently at one end, Raina kept his nerve and played a match-winning blitzkrieg innings of 84 in just 46 balls. Despite the fact that KKR were taking wickets at regular intervals, Raina didn’t allow them to take control of the game and steadied the ship towards the coast of victory and departed only when the result was virtually decided.