Rajkot: Skipper Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn made short work of a challenging target as two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders thrashed Gujarat Lions by 10 wickets to make a confident start to their campaign in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier league, here on Friday.
Gambhir and Lynn made the 184-run chase look easy as they went hammer and tongs from the word go. The duo didn’t spare a single Gujarat Lions bowler as it rained fours and sixes from the willows of Gambhir and Lynn. Lynn struck unbeaten 93 while Gambhir was not out on 76 not out) as the duo shared a match-winning 184-run run opening stand to cruise to the victory in 14.5 overs.
Lynn consumed just 41 balls and struck six boundaries and as many as eight sixes during his fiery knock. Gambhir, on the other hand, scored his runs off 48 deliveries with the help of 12 fours. While Lynn was at his aggressive best, Gambhir played the second fiddle initially in the match-winning partnership.
With Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo missing the match due to injuries, the inexperienced Gujarat Lions attack found the going tough against the rampaging KKR openers. Gujarat Lions bowlers looked out of sorts against Lynn and Ganbhir’s onslaught. Not a single bowler from the home team could make any impact after their batsmen put on a challenging score on the board.
Earlier, skipper Suresh Raina led from the front with an unbeaten 68 to propel Gujarat Lions to a challenging 183 for four. Raina top-scored for the hosts and consumed 51 balls during his knock which was studded with seven boundaries. Besides Raina Dinesh Karthik (47) and Brendon McCullum played good hands for Gujarat Lions.
For KKR, chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav picked up two wickets giving away 25 runs. Sent into bat, hard-hitting Englishman Jason Roy (14) made a breezy start to his IPL debut, smacking two fours off Trent Boult in the opening over. But Roy’s cameo came to and end in the fourth over when he got a leading edge of a short delivery from Piyush Chwala (1/33) and Yusuf Pathan did enough to hold on to the chance.
But the wicket hardly made any impact on McCullum’s style of play as he clobbered Chawla for a six just two balls later. Raina then joined the party and hit Chris Woakes for two boundaries in the sixth over. The Lions skipper, however, got a reprieve in the fifth ball of the same over when, running backward, Kuldeep failed to latch on to a tough chance.
McCullum looked ominous in his short stay as he welcomed Kuldeep with a four and a six in the next over. But Kuldeep got his revenge in his next over when McCullum missed a straight delivery that caught the former Kiwi batsman plumb in front of the wicket. New man in Aaron Finch (15) then smashed Pathan for consecutive sixes before he was holed to Suryakumar off Kuldeep at long-off in the next over.
Then Karthik and Raina joined hands and the duo shared crucial 87 runs for the fourth wicket. Raina should consider himself lucky as beside surviving a run out chance, he was dropped again — this time Pathan spilling a simple chance — soon after scoring the batsman scored his half-century.
Raina grabbed the life with both hands and struck Chawla over the midwicket fence in the final ball of the same over. Without going for rash shots, flamboyant Karthik hit Woakes for a six and a four and then Raina also found the fence to pick up 16 runs off the penultimate over.
Karthik continued in the same vein and struck two more boundaries in the final over from Boult before being caught by Suryakumar in search of quick runs.