Gujarat Lions beat Kings XI Punjab by six wickets in an IPL 2017 encounter at Mohali.
Gujarat have played party spoilers here! Hashim Amla scored his second century of the tournament, only the third player to do so in an IPL season, but the playoff chances of Kings XI Punjab crushed with their sixth loss in 11 matches.
Staying fifth on the table, the gap between them and fourth-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad remained three points. Amla’s first century against Mumbai Indians had also gone in vain when Kings XI could not defend 198, and on Sunday night, they failed to defend 189 against Gujarat Lions.
Dwayne Smith’s power-packed 74 off 39 balls gave their chase a rollicking start and threw Kings XI’s plans off track. None of their first three bowlers - Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron - struck in their first spells.
When Smith departed in the 12th over, they needed 70 off 52 balls, and even though Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik did not finish it off smoothly, Karthik stayed till the end to seal a nervy last-over win.
The top order of both sides came to the fore to score over 380 runs. When Kings XI were asked to bat, their innings was set up by a second-wicket century stand between Amla and Shaun Marsh. Amla was the more aggressive of the two, after he took off against Pradeep Sangwan in the third over with consecutive fours and relied on boundaries towards the end for the late surge his team needed, and scored his half-century off 35 balls. His partnership of 125 with Marsh set the tone for a brisk finish, which included 66 runs off the last five overs.
Smith, Amla’s counterpart, had not scored a fifty in 10 IPL innings and, before this game, had managed only 103 runs in nine innings this season, with single-digit scores in his last six innings. This time, he used his powerful arms to smash eight fours in the Powerplay, scoring 43 out of the team’s 58.
Ishan Kishan at the halfway mark brought the equation down to 87 from 60 with his 28-ball half-century.
In the first innings, Marsh had been middling strokes from his first ball but was unable to find gaps. Marsh showcased his trademark cuts square of the pitch and scored a useful 58 off 43. Once Smith started using his flashy bat-swings to collect boundaries, Kishan made sure he took those singles, scored at more than run-a-ball and saw off the opening bowlers.
Facing Maxwell in the eighth over, Kishan pulled and cut to collect 12 from the over with Smith’s help. Kishan’s 29 off 24 was not quite a match-winning knock but did the job the team needed with Smith firing.