The table toppers of the previous season, Gujarat Lions opened their account as they achieved their first win of the season against Rising Pune Supergiant. On the other hand, the visitors suffered their third loss on the trot.
Opting to bowl first after winning the toss, GL got an early wicket in the very first over but the partnership between Steve Smith and Rahul Tripathi provided stability to RPS innings. They looked like getting to a big score but the GL bowlers kept picking wickets at regular intervals to keep a check on the scoring.
Andrew Tye, who was playing his first game in IPL, picked up 5 wickets that included a hattrick in the last over. RPS ended with 171/8 in their 20 overs, a total that was going to be tough to defend against the strong batting line-up of GL.
In reply, GL got off to a quickfire start as openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith brought the advantage to their side with a stand of 94 runs. Suresh Raina and Aaron Finch then carried on the momentum and took them past the line with two overs still to go as they won by 7 wickets.
Here are the 5 highlights from the game that made the talking points:
#1 Andrew Tye inflicted second hattrick of the day
In an incredible turn of events, two hattricks took place on the same day. First, it was Samuel Badree who achieved the feat in the earlier game for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Mumbai Indians. Andrew Tye backed it up with another one for the Lions and that too on his debut in IPL.
Playing his first game for GL, he made a superb start and bagged the important wickets of Rahul Tripathi and Ben Stokes, who were looking dangerous. Those two wickets pegged RPS back and halted their progress.
But the blockbuster arrived in the dying stages of the innings when he was called in to bowl the last over. He removed Ankit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary and Shardul Thakur in three consecutive deliveries to complete the hattrick as well as his five-wicket haul. He ended with figures of 17/5 and contributed the 16th hattrick in the IPL history.
#2 Dhoni’s lackluster form continued
MS Dhoni has had a terrible time in the league so far. Initially, he was removed from the job of captaincy and Steve Smith was handed over the responsibility. With the captaincy, his form too seems to have left him.
He had three failures before the game and this innings too contributed to the series of low scores. He batted at number 6 this time around and walked in to bat in the 13th over after the fall of Ben Stokes.
Facing only his 8th delivery, he went for a heave over long on and missed a straight delivery from Ravindra Jadeja and was trapped right in front of the wickets. He now has only 33 runs in 4 innings so far and his lack of form is a big reason to worry for RPS.
#3 A night of classic catches
The league so far has witnessed several drop catches that have heavily influenced the outcomes of the matches. But it was a night where fielders of Lions were on top of the game.
First, it was Raina who pulled off a stunner to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane. The batsman edged one that flew quickly between the keeper and him at wide first slip. He went to his right initially but judged the trajectory of the ball soon to stick his left hand out and the ball stuck in his hand that presented a wonderful sight.
Next, it was Brendon McCullum who went running at long on and plucked one from the air to send Ankit Rajpoot back in the last over. Very next ball, Ishan Kishan judged one skier perfectly on the square leg boundary to stay inside the ropes and hold his balance.
#4 Smith-McCullum blitz at the top
GL made a big call in their batting order and promoted Dwayne Smith to open the innings having dropped Jason Roy from the XI. The move turned out just perfect as the openers Smith and McCullum provided a great platform at the top.
They added 94 runs for the first wicket before Smith was dismissed in the 9th over. He scored 47 off 30 balls that included 8 fours and a six. His Kiwi partner made 49 off 32 with 5 fours and 3 sixes before getting out in the 12th over.
They went after the bowling right from the word go and the put the pressure on the bowlers straight away. To chase the target of 172, it was the kind of start that puts the opposition on the back foot. The batsmen that followed weren’t left with too much to do and completed the formality having 12 balls in hand.
#5 Imran Tahir’s off day
The leg-spinner suffered a beating at the hands of the Lions’ batsmen who took him to the cleaners. It wasn’t as if he bowled badly but he encountered two devastating batsmen in destructive mood together and hence went for plenty.
The number one T20 bowler in the world was taken for 53 runs in his 4 overs and managed to pick up only one wicket in the form of Dinesh Karthik. But the dismissal came in too late in the innings when they were already lagging behind by a lot.
He was once holding the purple cap for being the leading wicket taker in the league. He now has 7 wickets in 4 games and is the joint leading wicket taker along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.