Gujarat Lions roared back in style, taming the formidable Kolkata Knight Riders in its den and ending its three-match losing streak, at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, who took two catches, scored an impressive half-century — his third of the season — to lead Lions’ run chase. The visitors, who won by five wickets with two overs to spare, regained the top spot with their seventh victory.
Earlier, Lions restricted Knight Riders to 158 despite a defiant 85-ball 134-run unbeaten partnership between Yusuf Pathan (63) and Shakib Al Hasan (66).
Lions, propelled by Praveen Kumar’s skilful seam bowling, reduced the hosts to 24 for four in six overs. This was Knight Riders’ worst-ever start in the tournament this season.
The wily Praveen executed his plans well to deliver a double blow in the third over. He provided the breakthrough when the ball brushed Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir’s thigh pad before deflecting on to the stumps. Manish Pandey fell to a gem of a delivery from the Lions seamer.
Dhawal Kulkarni, bowling with discipline, removed Robin Uthappa. Dwayne Smith then got rid of Suryakumar Yadav who gloved a sharply rising delivery and Suresh Raina spectacularly plucked the ball in his right hand diving to his left.
Yusuf, Shakib on song
Yusuf and Shakib revived the innings, targeting the spinners and registering the highest fifth-wicket stand in the IPL. Slam-bang expert Yusuf contemptuously dispatched the spinners to the boundary. He slammed seven fours and a straight six off Shivil Kaushik.
Shakib, who produced his best performance with the bat this season, played cautiously and sensibly before opening up. The southpaw, dropped on three, smashed four fours and as many sixes, including two in a row off Dwayne Bravo.
In reply, Lions was on the right track, thanks to the quickfire 42-run opening-stand between Brendon McCullum and Smith. The former punished Morne Morkel, hammering him for two glorious sixes and a four in the seventh over.
Karthik, who added 49 with Suresh Raina, hit three successive fours off Brad Hogg and played the linkman’s role to perfection in his 29-ball knock. It was his innings that made Lions’ journey to the destination smooth.