The third game of the tenth edition of Indian Premier League between Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders turned out to be a one-sided game. Although Gujarat Lions did a good job in setting a challenging target of 184 runs, KKR turned out to be heavyweights as they won the game with all 10 wickets intact.
Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir left the Gujarat Lions at sixes and sevens with their match-winning partnership of 184 at the top. It’s a record win for KKR as this is the highest successfully chased total without losing a solitary wicket.
Both the openers were on fire as they got the ball rolling right from the outset at Rajkot. Gambhir was in no mood to play a supportive role and inflicted massive damage in the final over of the power-play, where he juiced 23 runs off Shivil Kaushik’s second over. It was pure class and timing from the KKR skipper as he picked the gaps to perfection with deft touches.
Lynn, meanwhile, showed no mercy in the very next over and smashed Dwayne Smith for cleaners, he juiced 20 runs off the seventh over with brute force and accompanied by finesse. It was some serious power hitting by Lynn as he blazed away to the joint second-fastest fifty for KKR, which came off 19 deliveries.
Smith smashed three muscular sixes and a boundary to steer KKR to a commanding position. Though KKR dominated most of the parts in the game but these two overs saw KKR scoring 43 runs and helped them getting comfortably placed at 96 for no loss.
Saying that there was a turning point in the game would be wrong as KKR were as clean as a whistle in the run-chase but the momentum totally shifted in KKR’s favour at the end of the seventh over as these two overs snatched even the minutest possibility GL had to get back into the game.
The Raina and Karthik show
The Lions, however, got off to a solid start after KKR won the toss and invited them to bat first. Jason Roy came out hard but fell to Piyush Chawla after a good start. The hosts went for the kill and played all four overseas batsmen in the line-up, which meant that they needed near 200 runs on the wicket to put any kind of pressure on KKR. Brendon McCullum looked in good nick as well but Kuldeep Yadav caught him leg before just as he was shifting to the higher gears.
Aaron Finch struck a couple of big hits before Suryakumar Yadav’s brilliance on the field ended his time on the pitch for 15. Suresh Raina started his 2017 campaign on a high with an emphatic fifty, which had its fair share of glitches. He was dropped on a couple of occasions but made the most of it by scoring 68 off 51 deliveries, though a little slow by Raina’s standards.
Dinesh Karthik, on the other hand, was amazing to watch and brought into use his astounding domestic form. He improvised to perfection and played with a cool head under immense pressure to belt six boundaries and a couple of maximums for his 47 off 25.
Raina and Karthik stitched together 87 runs off 57 deliveries between them and did the repair work to guide GL to 183. However, they were still 20-25 runs short than anticipated on the batting-friendly wicket of Rajkot. Kuldeep Yadav was the pick of the KKR bowlers with two prized scalps to his name.
Also read: RCB announce KL Rahul's replacement
Gambhir and Lynn set the stage on fire
Gambhir and Robin Uthappa are hailed as one of the most consistent and performing opening pairs in the IPL; the duo has consistently got good starts and put pressure on the opposition in the power-play overs. In fact, they have accounted for 1478 runs in 39 innings at a healthy average of 37.89 for KKR.
Thus, it was a gamble by playing Lynn ahead of Uthappa at the top but very few had any idea of the kind of storm, which was gonna strike Rajkot. The duo played with unmatched confidence and came out all guns blazing.
This was the third time when Lynn was opening the batting in his T20 career, but he batted as if he has mastered it. He was not only smashing the bowlers all over the park but was astute enough to steal singles off good deliveries. Gambhir, on the other hand, was not quite either and played in his own style.
In doing so, KKR also scripted few records; they plundered 73 runs in the power-play and overhauled their previous best of 68 against Pune Warriors in 2012. The duo also recorded the highest partnership for KKR and this was also the highest successful run chase for any team without losing a single wicket in T20s.
KKR made a mockery of GL’s bowling asLynn remained unbeaten on 93 off 41 deliveries while Gambhir was unconquered on 76 off 48. Rajkot certainly witnessed one of the best batting displays in the history of IPL. Though GL didn’t have enough quality bowlers to defend 184, the situation had been different if those two overs were quite ones.
Some brutal hitting by Lynn and an eye-pleasing knock by Gambhir was enough to get the job done for KKR and kick start their 2017 IPL campaign with a bang.