IPL: Kolkata Knight Riders down Gujarat Lions

Sport360 staff 22:20 07/04/2017
Batting strength at the top: Lynn and Gambhir.

In one of the most dominating batting displays in the history of the Indian Premier League, Kolkata Knight Riders openers Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn put together a record-breaking unbeaten stand of 184 to power their side to a 10-wicket win over Gujarat Lions.

In fact, they made a difficult target look easy, notching the win with 31 balls to spare in Rajkot yesterday.

Put in to bat first by Kolkata, Gujarat posted a decent total of 183 for the loss of four wickets, thanks to an unbeaten half-century from captain Suresh Raina (68) and a breezy 47 from Dinesh Karthik.

But aided by some poor bowling, and more so by some exceptional hitting, Lynn (93 not out) and Gambhir (76 not out) raced to the target in 14.5 overs. In the process, they bettered the highest opening partnership of the tournament, previously held by Chris Gayle and Tillekeratne Dilshan (167 for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 2013).

Apart from Praveen Kumar, who gave away 13 runs in his two overs, all other bowlers averaged more than 10 runs per over with Dwayne Smith going for 23 runs in the only over he bowled, and Indian Paul Adams, Shivil Kaushik leaking 40 runs in his four overs.

Lynn, a surprise opening partner for Gambhir instead of Robin Uthappa, faced just 41 balls and struck six boundaries and as many as eight sixes during his fiery knock. Gambhir was at his subtle best and scored his runs off just 48 deliveries with the help of 12 boundaries. Lynn was more aggressive against the fast bowlers, and that role was taken over by Gambhir against the spinners.

A delighted Gambhir said it was fun to watch Lynn bat from the other end and paid tribute to his bowlers for restricting Gujarat to 183.

“You can’t ask for more from Lynny. He took a lot of pressure off me,” said Gambhir, who has led Knight Riders to two IPL titles.

“We are going to give him a longer run. We all know how dangerous he is. Hopefully, he can keep smacking it and we can play around him.

“The bowlers also did a fantastic job. I always feel that somebody who can make the ball move both ways will be crucial. We have Kuldeep and Chawla.”

Lynn, who was named Man of the Match, said: “To hit the ball a long way is my role and I enjoy the role. At the end of the day, it is about preparation. I like the spot at the top, the ball is coming on. I am used to the ball coming on at home. But one good innings does not make a summer.”

Gujarat definitely felt the absence of two of their key all-rounders – Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, bot sitting out injured.

Earlier, Raina top-scored for the hosts and consumed 51 balls during his knock which included seven boundaries. During the course of the innings, he overtook Virat Kohli as the highest run-getter in the history of the IPL.

Raina started the innings at 4,098 runs, 12 adrift of Kohlii. He is now at 4,166 and certain to open up that gap as the Indian captain is out injured and not expected to play at least the first three matches for Bangalore.

Besides Raina and Karthik, Brendon McCullum played good hand for Lions at the top, but they were stopped in the track by the guiles of chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who picked up two wickets giving away just 25 runs.

“I think 180 still was a good total. We did not bowl well in the first six overs – the bowling was not experienced.  They played really good cricket shots and we need to learn from here,” said Raina.