Suresh Raina leapfrogged Virat Kohli to become the leading run-scorer in Indian Premier League (IPL), and powered Gujarat Lions (GL) to a competitive 183 for 4 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their opening match of the 10th edition. Raina cracked his 29th fifty in the history of IPL and was involved in two partnerships in excess of 50 to power Gujarat Lions to a position of command. However, the Gujarat captain was lucky as he survived two dropped catches and a run-out chance as KKR made an ordinary start to their campaign. Dinesh Karthik was the second-highest run-getter for Gujarat with a rapid 47 off 25 balls. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Gujarat Lions (GL) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2017
Gujarat Lions were off to a confident start, with Jason Roy providing early fireworks on his IPL debut. The English batsman cracked two boundaries off Trent Boult in the first over despite the New Zealand seamer getting the ball to move dangerously. Roy showed ominous signs when he slapped a boundary through a packed off-side field, making the last-moment adjustment execute the switch-hit perfectly off Piyush Chawala. FULL CRICKET UPDATES: Gujarat Lions (GL) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2017
Gautam Gambhir was quick to grasp what could be his side’s fate if he continued with fast bowlers, and immediately brought on Sunil Narine from the other end. While both Chawala and Narine did not generate any amount of turn that would have threatened the batsmen. However, Roy, looking to remain aggressive, got a leading edge off Chawala on the fourth ball of the third over, and Yusuf Pathan took a simple catch to end his innings at 12-ball 14.
Brendon McCullum was then joined by Raina and while the Gujarat Lions captain took his time to settle-in, the former New Zealand captain decided to unleash himself. He whacked a six two balls after Roy’s wicket, and collected two boundaries in the next over from Narine.
KKR brought on Chris Woakes in the sixth over and Raina cracked two boundaries to begin with. However, his innings would have ended in that over itself had Kuldeep Yadav managed to keep the ball in his hands as he covered a lot of ground to take a tough catch. The ball popped out of his hands as he put in the dive, and Raina went on to make most of the lifeline.
Notably, this was not the only lifeline which the Gujarat Lions captain got in his innings. A little short of his half-century, Raina was given another reprieve, this time by Pathan on a chance that should have been grabbed.
Further embarrassment was in store for the Knight Riders, as a horrible mix-up between Raina and Karthik was not capitalised on by Kuldeep. Despite having collected a throw from the deep and Raina making a desperate dash to the striker’s end, Kuldeep did not throw the ball to Robin Uthappa who kept yelling for it.
Raina took his time to get his runs; he never looked in a hurry to push Gujarat towards a big score. He faced 51 balls and cracked 68 not out, and the support which he got from Karthik allowed him to bat without any hassle. Raina added 87 runs for the fourth wicket with Karthik, but the latter was more aggressive among the two. Karthik hammered 6 boundaries and 2 sixes to score a 25-ball 47.
Earlier in the game, the platform for a big total was set by a 50-run stand between McCullum and Raina. The former Kiwi skipper looked in his usual elements, swatting 4 boundaries and 2 sixes to score 35 off 24 balls. His strokeplay showed McCullum is in form, which will be pleasing to the Gujarat side.
KKR’s strategy looked appropriate when they operated with the spinners, with Kuldeep finishing with 2 for 25 off his 4 overs. But the same cannot be said for the other two bowlers, with Chawala getting 1 or 33 and Narine going wicketless and giving away 33 runs in 4 overs. Pathan was provided with one over but he gave away 15 runs.
Gujarat Lions 183 for 4 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 35, Suresh Raina 68*, Dinesh Karthik 47; Kuldeep Yadav 2 for 25) vs Kolkata Knight Riders