SURESH Raina struck a brilliant 84 to steer Gujarat Lions to a much-needed four-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League yesterday.
Gujarat had triumphed just once in 2017 prior to this encounter at Eden Gardens, while KKR had won four out of five and were flying high.
The hosts had looked set for a score north of 200 after explosive contributions from Sunil Narine (42) and Robin Uthappa (72), striking his second half-century of the season, before eventually finishing on 187-5.
Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum got the Lions off to an electrifying start during the powerplay, before captain Raina led his side towards victory with nine fours and three sixes in his 46-ball knock – the visitors getting over the line with 10 balls to spare.
Earlier, KKR had got off to a flyer courtesy of Narine, with the West Indian scoring all of his runs in boundaries as he powered nine fours and a six, before holing out to James Faulkner off the bowling of Raina.
That set the platform for a second-wicket partnership of 69 in 49 balls between Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir (33), before the latter skied a slower ball from Faulkner to opposite number Raina.
In response, Finch perished for a quick-fire 31 from 15 early on as he and McCullum (33 off 17) helped the Lions reach 72-1 at the end of the powerplay.
Raina helped steady the ship as wickets fell around him, with fellow left-hander Ravindra Jadeja (19 not out) joining him in a match-winning sixth-wicket partnership of 58 in 31 balls as the Lions skipper overtook Virat Kohli once more at the top of the all-time IPL run-scorers list. (OmniSPORT)