RAJKOT, April 14 (IANS): Gujarat Lions produced an impressive all-round performance to outclass Rising Pune Supergiants by seven wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) tie at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday.
Batting first, Pune posted 163/5 in 20 overs, thanks to Faf du Plessis' 43-ball 69.
In reply, riding on Aaron Finch's 50 and Brendon McCullum's 49, Gujarat chased down the total comfortably scoring 164/3 in 18 overs.
Chasing a challenging target of 164, openers Finch and McCullum got Gujarat off to a flying start scoring 62 runs in the powerplay.
Finch took the initiative from the word go to hit seven boundaries and two sixes in his 36-ball innings to put his team in a comfortable position. He was well supported in the other end by McCullum, who hit three boundaries and three sixes in his 31-ball innings.
But young leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin brought the much needed breakthrough removing in-form batsman Finch in the ninth over to put Pune back into the game.
McCullum, as he was looking good to reach yet another T20 fifty, was removed by Ishant Sharma in the 14th over to have Gujarat at 120/2.
But despite the openers getting out, the duo has done their job to help team stay on track for their second win of the tournament.
New batsman Suresh Raina (24) and Dwayne Bravo (22 not out) held on scoring runs at a good pace to take team close to victory line.
But after the dismissal of Raina in the 17th over, Bravo along with Ravindra Jadeja (4 not out) took team over the line with ease.
Earlier, electing to bat first on winning the toss, Pune skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw his decision justified as openers Faf du Plesis and Ajinkya Rahane (21) gave the team a good Astart.
With du Plesis going after the Gujarat bowlers, Rahane played a steady innings at the other end, with four well-timed hits to the fence. Pravin Tambe handed the hosts the breakthrough when Rahane missed the line of a delivery that kept straight after pitching, only to see the ball hit him on the backfoot.
Rahane's dismissal did not bring any respite for the Gujarat bowlers as Kevin Pietersen (37) joined du Plesis in the middle and the duo proceeded to lay the foundation for a competitive total.
Bravo finally got rid of Pietersen with an in-swinging slower delivery. He was completely fooled by the clever change of pace as the ball crashed into the stumps.
Tambe struck another crucial blow for the Lions soon after by sending du Plesis back to the pavilion. The South African right-hander had smashed a four and six off the previous two deliveries. He went for a third consecutive bit shot, dancing down the track in an effort to hit the ball over the long on fence. But he miscued his shot as Gujarat wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik pulled of a smart stumping.
Jadeja then sent back Steven Smith (5) early in the next over to put the brakes on Pune's once soaring run rate. However, Dhoni (22 not out) produced a trademark strong finish, plundering 22 runs off 10 balls help Pune finish on a strong note.
Ravindra Jadeja (2/18), Pravin Tambe (2/33) were the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat.
Rising Pune Supergiants 163/5 in 20 overs (Faf du Plesis 69, Kevin Pietersen 37; Ravindra Jadeja 2/18, Pravin Tambe 2/33) vs Gujarat Lions 164/3 in 18 overs (Aaron Finch 50, Brendon McCullum 49; Murugan Ashwin 2-31).