IPL 2016: Finch, McCullum power Gujarat Lions to second successive win

Though the Gujarat Lions-Rising Pune Supergiants match was a battle of the newbies, it was just old wine served in the new bottle. Openers Aaron Finch (50) and Brendon McCullum (49) came out all guns blazing, adding 85 runs for the first wicket, to power Gujarat Lions to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against Rising Pune Supergiants in the sixth match of the ninth edition of IPL played at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday.

Gujarat moved to the top of the standings after posting their second successive win of the tournament. Chasing 164, Gujarat team coasted home with two overs to spare and seven wickets in hand. Gujarat skipper Suresh Raina also played a fine run-a-ball cameo of 24 to dash the visitors’ hopes of a win whatsoever. Dwayne Bravo played a handy unbeaten knock of 22 which came in 10 balls. Bravo smacked three consecutive fours off Ishant Sharma to take his team to 147 after the end of the 16th over.

Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat team as he picked up two wickets, giving away 18 runs in his four-over spell.

Rising Pune Supergiants batsmen, who were taken aback by the late fightback of Gujarat bowlers, managed to post 163/5, courtesy fine knocks by Faf du Plessis (69) and Kevin Pietersen (37).

McCullum and Finch gave Lions the perfect start to the chase, racing to 62/0 after six overs of mandatory Powerplay in comparison to Pune’s 57/1.

The pace combo of RP Singh and Ishant Sharma hardly troubled McCullum and Finch who added 85 runs for the first wicket. Together they gave away 38 runs in the first four overs. It was R Ashwin who briefly put some brakes on the run scoring by giving away only four runs in the fifth over.

McCullum tonked paceman RP for two huge sixes in the third over while Ishant was clobbered over backward point for two striking boundaries by Finch. Finch raced to his second successive fifty off 33 balls with the help of seven fours and two massive sixes before becoming the victim of legspinner Murugan Ashwin, who finished with the figure of 2/31. Murugan fought back hard in his second spell after conceding 20 runs in his first spell of single over. Ishant returned to get rid of McCullum but it was too late by then as the asking rate was just over six.

Both Murugan and Ashwin bowled in tandem from ninth to 12th over of the innings but couldn’t check the run flow. Gujarat reached the 100-run mark in the 11th over and took five balls less than their opponents.

Earlier, Pune were 121-2 after 15 overs and could add only 20 runs in the next three overs. It was Pune skipper MS Dhoni who scored 20 runs off Dwayne Bravo’s last over that included two boundaries and a six to take his team to a fighting total but in the end fell short by at least 30 runs.

Pune lost Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 21 off 17 balls, at the score of 27 after he was trapped by Pravin Tambe who came as a first change in the fourth over.
In came Pietersen who joined Du Plessis in the middle. The duo put on 86 runs off 61 balls for the second wicket. Pietersen and Du Plessis – who scored only two fours and a six post six overs of Powerplay – played cautiously and ran hard between the wickets to keep the scoreboard ticking. Du Plessis hit a 33-ball 50 with the help of four fours and three sixes.
Dwayne Bravo who went for 16 runs in his first over – the sixth of the innings – came back in the 14th to get rid of Pietersen. The flamboyant Pietersen played a gritty 37-run knock off 31 balls, which included two fours and a six. Tambe, who finished with the figures of 2/33, returned for his third spell to dismiss Du Plessis who scored 43-ball 69 with the help of five fours and four sixes over the ropes.

Brief Scores: Gujarat Lions 164/3 Finch 50 McCullum 49; Murugan 2/31 beat Rising Pune Supergiants 163/5 Du Plessis 69, Pietersen 37; Jadeja 2/18 by seven wickets